NORTH SMITHFIELD – In an open letter to North Smithfield Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, the president of the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions is calling for the reappointment of members of the town board who resigned earlier this month, saying they felt their work was not appreciated.
RIACC President Paul Roselli said he thinks Ezovski should apologize to former members of the North Smithfield Conservation Commission, stating that if the administrator cannot foster goodwill with volunteers, then he should seek a job outside of government.
The entire six member board, which works to protect natural resources in town, resigned on Tuesday, Dec. 17, following a delay in the reappointment of three long-standing volunteers in their ranks.
The administrator, who has authority to make the reappointments to the Town Council, said he wanted to ensure that anyone who had an interest in serving had the opportunity to put their name forward.
Commission Chairman Paul Soares, Vice Chairman Mike Calo and longtime member Glenn Vario were seeking reappointment before their terms expired on Sunday, Dec. 1.
At a meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, Ezovski said he was still not ready to name members to the conservation board, and instead wished to seek additional volunteers for that commission, and others in need of members, advertising the roles in his weekly newsletter.
Soares told NRI NOW did not solicit or become aware of Roselli’s letter until received a copy .
The full letter from Roselli to Ezovski is copied below.
Dear Town Administrator Ezovski:
As president of the Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions, I am very disheartened at the recent turn of events and treatment regarding the volunteers and board members of the North Smithfield Conservation Commission. With this letter, I am asking you to resolve the issues with the conservation commission members, ask for forgiveness from the commission members and re-establish their membership by re-appointing them to the North Smithfield Conservation Commission.
The authority given to Rhode Island cities and towns to establish conservation commissions was promulgated in 1960 by the Rhode Island General Assembly, “…the purpose of which is to promote and develop the natural resources, protect the watershed resources, and preserve natural esthetic areas within municipalities.” Since 1960, hundreds of individuals
have given thousands of volunteer hours across many of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island in areas that include the authority given to them long ago: “The commission shall conduct research into its local land areas and seek to coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and may advertise, prepare, print, and distribute
books, maps, charts, plans, and pamphlets which in its judgment it deems necessary for its work.”
That work has been utilized in a variety of ways across Rhode Island. I know first hand that the town of North Smithfield has benefited greatly from the hard work and expertise, as non-paid volunteers for your town, from these women and men who seek a better life for the woods, open space, the “natural esthetic areas” of North Smithfield and the citizens who
appreciate and value their conservation.
The town of North Smithfield, as well as every other city and town in Rhode Island, can not accomplish all that the town has to do without a dedicated, trusted and passionate volunteer workforce.
You, as town administrator, must advance their passion, dedication and efforts through respectful interaction, participating and showing up at events, offering as much help as the town can muster in-order to keep these, and all volunteers in their positions. If you fail or cannot foster good will with your volunteers, then you should seek employment outside
municipal or state government.
Gary, I am making this an open letter to a wider community in-order to gain support for these women and men who were treated in this manner. Their voices and this story must be heard statewide to make certain that this type of behavior is never repeated.
Paul A. Roselli
President, Rhode Island Association of Conservation Commissions