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Voters Entitled to an Explanation

Voters Entitled to an Explanation

To the editor,

The Massaro Farm was a gift to Woodbridge, bequeathed by the Massaro family. Restored to productivity, it continues giving residents a touchstone to the region’s agrarian past. I especially admire the literally tons of farm-fresh produce donated to local soup kitchens and food banks, and the farm’s recent efforts to promote beekeeping to address shrinking bee populations.

A dedicated group of volunteers, with a skeletal staff and a professional farmer, operates a tax-exempt, subscriber-based operation with the Town’s permission. The Woodbridge Land Trust administers the Conservation Easement placed on the property.

The Massaro Farm group holds an annual meeting “to allow members and neighbors to come meet our board, and hear about the farm,” and I’ve attended several times over the years. I remain troubled by a few things after the 2015 edition, held March 8, and since the agenda didn’t allow for public comment these questions persist.

First, I was surprised the group’s treasurer gave no treasurer’s report and no accounting for a variance of about 50 percent between the budget and actual amounts raised and spent. Three or four PowerPoint slides – presented by staff – were used to quickly gloss over that discrepancy and the entire financial report.

Then, plans to remove topsoil from a field to make a parking lot were described. To me this seems inconsistent with the intent of the Massaro family, since the land was given to the town solely for agricultural or recreational purposes.

Beyond that, one volunteer board member – the treasurer again, it turns out – is positioned as a director of the Woodbridge Land Trust, which administers the farm’s Conversation Easement. In barnyard parlance, this seems like the wolf guarding the henhouse.

Now the treasurer seeks elected office in town: no secret, since her name, in large, bold type, was distributed town-wide in a Massaro Farm mailing – at subscriber, donor, and taxpayer expense – just weeks before her nomination. Now, in political ads published in this paper, she touts her experience at Massaro Farm.

To fairly assess her qualifications, Woodbridge voters are entitled to an explanation about these questions raised at the Massaro Farm Annual Meeting March 8.

Laurence Grotheer

The writer is serving a third term on the Woodbridge Board of Selectmen and seeks re-election.

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