Coleman Steps Down After 18 Years On Chatham FinCom

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Chatham , Municipal Finance

Roslyn Coleman is stepping down from the finance committee after 18 years. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – One of the longest-serving members of the finance committee in recent memory is stepping down.

Roslyn Coleman opted not to be reappointed after 18 years on the finance panel, said Moderator William Litchfield, whose is charged with appointing finance committee members.

“Roz served with great dedication and devotion over the course of six terms on the finance committee, which is at least a modern day record,” Litchfield said.

She was a “vibrant voice for the environment, for conservation and for human services,” he said. Her education background also gave her insight into school finances during a period when Chatham and Harwich merged into the Monomoy Regional School District.

“She is entitled to retire with thanks and appreciation,” Litchfield said.

Coleman said she felt like this was an appropriate time to step down from the nine-member committee.

“As I look back, not only was it a fabulous non-partisan issue oriented group, but I learned a lot,” she said. When she first joined the committee, she explained, then-chairman Doug Hamilton had members review a list of town assets.

“That opened my eyes,” she said. She realized the historic Marconi property was sitting vacant, and led to her involvement in the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center; she's still on the board of that organization, as well as Pleasant Bay Community Boating, which grew out of the Marconi group.

Coleman said important things the town needs to pay attention to are climate science and sea level rise as well as workforce housing. There are state laws the town can adopt that can help in the development of workforce housing, she said, adding that the use of four homes on the Marconi property – which are leased to qualified residents, with half the rent going into a fund that can eventually be used as a downpayment on a house – is an innovative program that could be used as a model here and elsewhere that would “really do something to save our ordinary homes.”

A collaboration between Pleasant Bay Community Boating, the Center for Coastal Studies and Friends of Pleasant Bay to look at sea level rise is a start at looking at how the issue impacts our own back yard, she said. “You can't wait for the federal government to do it. We have to do it at the local level.” The town is rewriting its emergency preparedness plan, and Coleman said she believes the selectmen and finance committee should not approve any projects or major initiatives without looking at the impact of climate change.

“It has to be part of everything we do,” she said.

That's one reason she believes the person who will replace her, Andrew Young, is “the perfect candidate” due to his background in conservation issues.

Young “brings a long history of public service” to the position, Litchfield said. He served on the conservation commission in the early 1980s and was elected to the town's first part-time, five-member board of selectmen in 1987, serving for two terms, including two years as chairman. He is a long-time member and former president of the Chatham Conservation Foundation. He was a commercial loan officer and vice president at the Cape Cod Five before his retirement. He was named to a three-year term.

Coleman said she believes the finance committee, under current chairman Stephen Daniel, is operating much more smoothly today than when she first joined. Initially she was often in the minority and used her dissenting opinion as a protest. Now the committee is more likely to discuss issues and reach a reasonable agreement together.

“I'm still interested and will continue to be active” in town affairs, Coleman said, adding, “It's been a fun 18 years.”

Litchfield said he also reappointed Daniel and member Jo Ann Sprague to new three-year terms on the finance committee.