WENHAM — A good number of the folks who showed up at Tuesday night's meeting of the Board of Selectmen appeared drawn by the prospect of a showdown over the election of Molly Martins as the new chairwoman.
They may have gotten less than they anticipated, as only two residents addressed the issue and Selectman John Clemenzi, who voted for Martins rather than fellow board member Harriet Davis, kept his responses brief.
Clemenzi had said his vote was in part prompted by knowledge of certain projects that only he and Town Administrator Jeffrey Chelgren were privy to; the other board members had not been informed about them. He voted for Martins because he believed she would be a "fresh set of eyes" looking at the possibilities, he said.
Main Street resident and 2009 selectman candidate Don Costin wanted to know exactly what Clemenzi was talking about and expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea that Chelgren would have information that was kept from the other two selectmen.
"This isn't Washington, D.C.," Costin said. "It's Wenham."
Chelgren said he was "really excited" about some of the possibilities but wasn't at liberty to get into specifics, which didn't pacify Costin.
"As far as I'm concerned, there's too much secret activity in this town," he said.
Larch Lane resident Don Luxton said he'd already expressed his disagreement with Clemenzi in private, then expanded on his disapproval.
"I don't think Jeff should be privy to things the other two selectmen don't know about," he said.
With that, the meeting was on track the rest of the evening.
A clerk's work never done
Chelgren came to the meeting looking for a little backup for newly elected Town Clerk Trudy Reid. He noted that former Clerk Fran Young, who had to leave the job for health reasons, had set the bar higher than could be reasonably expected of her successor.
Liz Carey has been helping out in the clerk's office, and Chelgren said he'd like to "keep her in the wings" for those times when Reid might have other commitments.
Davis didn't have a problem with the concept, but did question where Chelgren would find the necessary $8,000.
"I've spoken with Jack (Finance and Advisory Committee Chairman Jack Wilhelm), and he doesn't feel these are unforeseen circumstances," Davis said.
That would make a transfer from free cash less likely, but Chelgren suggested there might be another option. The town is looking for a replacement for recently departed Finance Director Sarah Johnson, and might pay that person less than Johnson was making.
"That changes the game," Chelgren said.
Jack Hauck, a resident of The Maples, was interested in a different sort of change.
"At the League of Women Voters candidates' night, both candidates advocated for a three-year term" for the clerk, Hauck said, and asked whether there had been any consideration of that suggestion.
It's ongoing, Chelgren said.
Several years ago, a Stanton Street resident had asked to have a "No dumping" sign erected on Orchard Street. Never heard of Orchard Street?
Well, it's unmarked, and like Gertrude Stein's Oakland, Calif., there is no there, there.
"It's a right of way with no roadway," Chelgren told the board.
Now, other neighbors would like to see the sign taken down, including Stanton Street resident Tom Pawlyk, who said the whole business is tomfoolery.
"In the last five to seven years, the DPW has been down there twice cleaning the property, for at least four hours each time," Pawlyk said. "It's silly and a waste of time."
It's not the first time a sign appears to have been little more than a roadside decoration.
Asked how big the sign was, Pawlyk let the cat out of the bag.
"It's the same size as the one on Arbor Street where we dumped for years."