The Tannery Re-use Committee (2005) was the first official group to discuss the different possibilities for the Tannery property. That group was followed by the Tannery Redevelopment Advisory Focus Group (2007), which was followed by the Tannery Work Group (2015). Each group brought some solid ideas to the table such as incorporating the River Walk; suggesting guiding principles for the use of the property or possible sale of the property; establishing a permanent home for the Farmer’s Market; requiring that the property could only be disposed of by a vote of Town Meeting; to name a few.

With the Tannery Work Group, there seemed to be an easing of the tensions between those who envisioned an open recreational space and those who wanted something that would generate tax revenue. The Work Group presented to the Select Board in March of 2017 a multi-use concept to “reserve green space and enhance the aesthetics of the Riverwalk & overall Tannery Site” and to “Enable a wide variety of uses: recreational, commercial, special events” etc.

I felt that we were perhaps moving closer to some sort of town-wide consensus at this point. The Select Board seemed to approve, and the Town Manager successfully procured a substantial EPA Brownfield Grant for additional site clean-up using language in the application that totally supported the Work Group’s conclusions. Our Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell acknowledged that “all of the work the community and the Tannery Working Group have devoted to the town-owned Tannery property made the difference in what she said was a very competitive grant process.”

Something went off the rails here. The Work Group proposals were never brought forth for town approval. Time passes; Select Boards change. Requests for new proposals are sent out from Planning and Development, and we’re back to square one, completely disregarding the years of work by many to reach a consensus.

Let’s get back on track. Let’s keep control of the property. Let’s explore the ideas proposed by The Tannery Work Group. Let’s make sure that the town, not the Select Board, has final say about what goes on with the property.

Vote no on Articles 15 and 16.

Bob Gassett
Camden Resident