Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Comcast Center and Selectman Need to Stop

This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on July 23, 2012

By Bill Gouveia

This is just a suggestion, but one Mansfield selectman George Dentino and Comcast Center General Manager Bruce Montgomery might be wise to actually entertain:

Stop taking cheap political shots at each other. It doesn’t serve any constructive purpose, doesn’t help the people and/or organizations you seek to serve, and makes each of you look like bullies on the playground more concerned with marking your territory than solving your problems.

While each of these fine gentlemen may agree with at least half of that strong statement (the half pertaining to the other guy), they no doubt don’t agree with all of it. Each has serious responsibilities as well as a difficult and important job to perform.

But frankly, most of Mansfield as well as the surrounding area has started tuning both parties out. They are tired of listening to Dentino attack the concert venue on pretty much every possible front, and equally bored with Montgomery’s efforts to portray the selectman as a puppet of local businessman/political activist and Comcast Center abutter Karl Clemmey.

For his part, Dentino has been nothing if not consistent in his constant criticism of the venue over the years. He lives close to it, and thus knows better than most the impact it has on the surrounding neighborhood. He has been a proponent of reducing noise levels, fining management for running even a few minutes over show curfews, and even went on a media campaign to get all vehicles entering the establishment searched for illegal substances.

Montgomery has been around pretty much as long as the venue itself, through all its various names and identities. He has spent decades as the public face of the organization, interfacing with town officials and local residents as issues have arisen. He has long been active in trying to develop the area surrounding Comcast Center in a manner which will benefit them as well as the town. This has often put him at odds with Clemmey and his family, who own large plots of land and have been feuding with the entertainment giant almost constantly.

Dentino has been long linked politically with the Clemmeys – fairly or unfairly. He has done work for various Clemmey family members or organizations, which hardly puts him in any type of exclusive group in Mansfield. But despite protests by Montgomery and the Comcast Center, there has been no evidence Dentino has been unduly influenced through his “connections” with the Clemmey family.

At the same time, Dentino’s relentless attacks on the virtually everything Comcast Center related have become old. That is not to say none of his concerns are valid. But the rest of Mansfield seems to have recognized the fact they host a major concert venue within their borders, and with that comes issues that can at times be controversial. There is no need for the veteran selectman to constantly be making them more so.

As difficult as it may be for Montgomery and Comcast Center officials to hear their integrity and abilities questioned and denigrated at times during open public meetings, they must resist lowering the level of the debate any further. They cannot win and will not benefit by attacking Dentino’s credibility on the topic via his personal relationship with any abutter. It might make them feel better, but in the long run has zero public relations value and makes the contract negotiations with selectmen more awkward.

The simple fact of the matter is Mansfield has a jewel of an asset with the Comcast Center located within its borders at the edge of town. The benefits to the community are many, the problems are relatively few, and most citizens understand this.

It is reasonable to expect selectmen and Montgomery to work together to keep noise levels down, traffic issues under control, and make sure security is always a top priority. While there is always room for improvement, the record shows both Selectman Dentino and the Comcast Center take this obligation very seriously. They share common goals an objectives.

If Dentino and Montgomery agree to work cooperatively on the problems at hand instead of aiming at each other – they, Mansfield and the Comcast Center will all be a lot better off.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at aninsidelook@aol.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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