Naples board rebuked for opinions

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The locally elected selectmen heard the words of a Naples resident who was displeased with comments they had made during a previous regular meeting.

Essentially, after praising the town for offering online viewings of the municipal meetings, the Naples property-owner took board members to task for insensitive comments that did not represent the views of the community.

Chairman Jim Grattelo responded, saying that differing opinions from the sitting selectmen and from the public are a welcome part of the political process.

The letter from resident Linda Dearborn Petroforte was read as part of the Public Participation period during the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Jan. 29.

“This arrived for the agenda tonight from Linda Dearborn Petroforte,” said interim Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz, who read the letter into record.

“As a seasonal resident and Naples’ taxpayer, I look forward to learning more about the town governance in this place we all love,” Dearborn wrote. “I appreciate that the meetings can be viewed online. Because of the unique flow and ebb of the seasonal population throughout the year, I would guess there are a number of residents who take advantage of keeping up on town politics by watching the online meeting. After watching the last online selectmen’s meeting, I feel obligated to write to say that I found it disturbing that personal biases were allowed to be voiced…The selectmen speak for the townspeople. Jim Grattelo made remarks that he was not in favor of saving the cupola,” she wrote.

She listed five comments that she found distasteful and not in line with the opinions of a majority of the residents. The comments had been made during a discussion about the Bay of Naples Inn cupola.

Number one was, “Don’t fall asleep” during the reading of a long letter. “Number 2: ‘It has been there for 50 years and no one ever cared about it.’ Number 3: ‘Suddenly, there is gun to their heads.’ Number 4: ‘If someone doesn’t volunteer by the next meeting, we will burn it,’” Dearborn wrote.

The fifth comment Dearborn found offensive was that more residents were against preserving the cupola than saving it. She challenged Grattelo to prove that people were against it. “Let us stay accurate with numbers and not let hearsay sway public opinion,” Dearborn’s letter said.

After the letter was read, Chairman Grattelo said he would like to respond.

“I totally disagree that this board is charged to speak on the behalf not as themselves but to speak as a whole board. I admire the fact that the selectboard has different opinions. And, I want them to voice these opinions,” he said.

Grattelo said when he ran for the selectman seat, he thought the previous board members too often agreed on everything and did not take into account other opinions.

“I want this selectboard to speak. I want them to weigh in,” he said. “The five comments were made by a variety of people. Some of these comments were taken out of context,” he said, adding that he watched the meeting video after seeing the letter.

“We offer people time to speak, but at the same time, we are going to correct some things and offer our opinions as well,” he said.

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