HOPKINTON — Members of the Town Council are seeking to fill two vacancies on the town’s five-member Conservation Commission after separate resignations over the past month, a challenge that Councilors Scott Bill Hirst and Michael Geary expressed concerns could impact the board’s ability to function as intended.
Members of the Town Council last week voted by a 3-2 margin to accept the resignation of Lydia Lamphere, a longtime volunteer with the commission, with both Hirst and Geary opposed. With the latest resignation, the commission now consists of just three members with two open seats.
“I am voting against this, and it is because I am concerned over the state of the commission,” Hirst said. “With her absence, the commission is now down to just three members. That’s not efficient.”
The resignation marks the second in as many weeks for the council. On July 19, councilors accepted the resignation of the Conservation Commission’s former chairman, Harvey Buford.
The council has already sought applications from residents to fill the vacancy, but had not had the opportunity to consider candidates before receiving Lamphere’s resignation. In her resignation, which was accepted last week, Lamphere expressed that “it was a privilege to serve the town” previously but that it no longer felt like a privilege.
Commissioners Gary Marsh, Deborah O’Leary and Bradley Hodge all remain active members of the commission. The commission has not met since June 10 with the commission’s regular meeting for July 8 and a second originally scheduled for Thursday both canceled.
Both Hirst and Geary said their decision to vote against the resignation was not in any way meant to be critical of Lamphere or her work, stating that her record as a dedicated volunteer should be reflected in their decision.
Hirst said, in addition to showing support to Lamphere, he voted no because he had hoped to convince Lamphere to remain active until the vacancy left with Buford’s resignation was filled. He asked, in statements at last week’s council meeting that, even if only for a few weeks, she would consider delaying her decision to resign.
Councilor Sharon Davis, however, said she could not vote against the will of a volunteer to step down. She said if a volunteer coming forward expresses a desire to move on, it is a responsibility of the council to honor that request.
“If they write a letter of resignation or say they don’t want to be on a commission, I just don’t understand why we wouldn’t accept,” Davis said. “They took the time to make that decision and I think we should honor their decision. It has nothing to do with whether I want her to stay or not.”