By Kim Siebert MacPhail
The Selectmen interviewed and appointed three new town committee members at their meeting on Monday, November 5.
Jean Hammond was appointed to the Affordable Housing Committee. Hammond has a long history of community involvement, including Bedford Cultural Council, Bicycle Advisory Committee, Bedford Center for the Arts and Bedford League of Women Voters. She is an artist and designer.
According to Selectman Mike Rosenberg, the Affordable Housing Committee “pursues opportunities in the community to build or acquire affordable housing and also promotes these opportunities” by educating “potential residents and the general population. The Affordable Housing Committee works in tandem with the Fair Housing Committee, in effect as one unit of the Housing Partnership.”
In response to the question of why she seeks appointment to this committee, Hammond said, “I think the Affordable Housing Committee does a great service to the community. It allows people who definitely could not afford to live in Bedford a path into home ownership that they would not otherwise have. It allows the community to be more widely distributed in terms of economic status and it adds to everyone’s ability to understand others and to live and work with them.”
Selectman Margot Fleischman, in her role as liaison to the Volunteer Coordinating Committee, said that some thought is now being put toward how the various housing committees in Bedford might function more effectively.
“We’re looking for some opportunities to make it easier for everyone to achieve their quorums and fulfill our statutory obligations. We’ll be looking to the members of all the committees to provide some guidance in terms of what makes sense for everyone. It’s a big commitment to have several committees to serve on and it turns out to be something of a logistical [challenge].”
Hammond, who has been attending Affordable Housing meetings for several months, agreed that it might be easier if the functions of the various committees were coordinated.
There remains one opening on the Affordable Housing Committee following Hammond’s appointment.
Arthur Ellis was named to the Historic Preservation Commission. Ellis was one of the founders of the Depot Park project and is considered an expert on the history of the B & B railroad. He is a long-time member of the Historical Society and an active volunteer for the Job Lane House. Ellis was also, for ten years, Bedford’s representative to the MBTA.
The purpose of the Historic Preservation Commission is to preserve, protect, develop, and manage Bedford’s historical, archaeological, and cultural assets. The Commission also oversees the Demolition Delay Bylaw that applies to homes built in 1943 or earlier. Selectmen chair Cathy Cordes noted that the Historic Preservation Commission has “done a wonderful job in working on grants to help with the Historic District.”
Following Ellis’ appointment, two more openings remain on the Historic Preservation Commission.
AnnaLisa Madison was appointed to the Transportation Advisory Committee. Madison is interested in “transportation, accessibility, and independence,” especially for people with disabilities. Sight-impaired at birth, Madison worked for the New Mexico Commission for the Blind before moving to Bedford five years ago; she was also active in college in the National Federation for the Blind.
Madison has volunteered for several organizations including the Bedford Women’s Community Club and the Farmers’ Market for which she has written newsletters, press releases and promotional brochures.
The Transportation Advisory Committee, according to its charter, “examines, evaluates and advises the Selectmen regarding ways to improve overall resident mobility, expand the use of non-automobile based [transportation], and improve traffic circulation…”
“In the past several years, a lot of the work that the committee has been focused on has had to do with new sidewalk projects…but the committee is not limited to that issue,” said Selectman Fleischman who also acts as a liaison to Transportation Advisory. “There are other things like transportation demand management, improvement of our MBTA service, preservation of our local transportation options like BLT (Bedford Local Transit). It’s a broad charge and a daunting and complicated set of issues that the town doesn’t always control but we do try to make the best decisions that we can for the community.”
Several Selectmen noted what an important perspective Madison brings to the committee with her experience. “As a visually impaired person, I am very interested in access to public transportation,” said Madison. “Also, walking on the streets, I’m interested in safe sidewalks. People having a way to get different places and Bedford’s growing senior population—it’s more and more important to have access to public transportation.”
With Madison’s appointment, the Transportation Advisory Committee has a full complement of members.