Not in Windham NH.
You’ve heard it many times. The emotional argument, “It’s for the children.” Sometimes that may be true, but too many times it’s not. Too many times, influential people (those politically connected) – are driven by personal motivation. And because of their connections, they get to impose their will by using those connections to deem outcomes they desire, regardless of the consequences.
Recently, the parents of a 6-year-old down syndrome boy asked for a sign to be placed on their street to help protect their son from traffic. They even offered to pay for it. They went through a long lengthy process that took several months. There were several drawn out discussions… multiple Selectmen meetings, traffic studies, committee meetings, many opportunities for public input – with no objections. That was the due process to install a simple sign.
The sign was unanimously approved and placed at the beginning of their block, providing ample warning for drivers to slow down. The parents and their neighbors were happy with the location – all but one. Normally one objection after the fact would be summarily dismissed. Especially when the safety of a child is considered – as is the case here.
But if you have access to a selectman who is also a family friend… strings can be pulled to get the sign removed within days, without warning, without Selectmen approval, and literally in the dark of night — which happened.
I’ve tried to look at this objectively from many different perspectives. Unfortunately, I keep coming back to the same conclusion. It’s disturbing. Especially after considering the fact that before the sign was removed, a trash bag had been illegally placed over it. Those actions do not indicate compassion, which I believe is of the utmost important consideration in these types of situations.
It took months to get approval from the Selectmen for the sign to be installed. All the proper procedures were followed. But questions remain: (1) What was wrong with the location of the sign?; (2) Why was the sign removed without Selectmen approval?; (3) Why was the sign removed when no formal complaint was filed stating justifiable reasons for the request?; and (4) Why was due process to remove the sign not followed before it was removed?
Multiple residents have asked for answers – but have received no responses. Don’t they have a right to know? The fact that one influential resident can essentially impose their will and overturn months of due process with the purpose to provide additional safety for a special need’s child is disturbing. This reflects poorly on our community. Windham residents deserve answers. Windham residents deserve better. Especially the child’s parents.
In Windham, we must always put our children first – regardless of who you are. And in this case, it’s about a 6-year-old special needs child.