The 2020 Durham Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the Town Board on June 2, 2020 after two years of work by a committee of residents and Town Board members.
The Town Board has set up a Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee (originally known CoPIC, but then renamed to Durham Connect). The Chair of Durham Connect is Joan Breslin (firstname.lastname@example.org – Joan is also the town’s Deputy Supervisor) and the Deputy Chair is Bernard Rivers (email@example.com). The other members of Durham Connect are the five working group Convenors listed below.
Durham Connect working groups
Durham Connect has five working groups – one for each of the main recommendations in the Plan – as follows:
- Improve communications working group (Convenor: Karen Rothmyer Rivers – firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Increase community activities working group (Convenor: Terry Ward – email@example.com)
- Enhance economic development working group (Convenor: Joanne Schindelheim – firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Advocate for improved broadband working group (Convenor: Rosemary O’Brien – email@example.com)
- Improve historic preservation working group (Convenor: Dan Clifton – firstname.lastname@example.org)
In early August 2020, thirty-four Durham residents agreed to serve as working group members. Their names are here. To add your name to the list, or to move to a different working group, email Joan Breslin or Bernard Rivers, as above.
Each working group usually meets once or twice per month, chaired by the Convenor.
Working group members are asked to focus on the issues, not the personalities, and to work together respectfully, harmoniously and with enthusiasm. They are welcome to disagree with ideas or perspectives that are raised by others, but they are urged not to criticize anyone in personal terms.
Role of convenors
The convenor of each working group is responsible for setting the dates for future meetings (in consultation with the members), for emailing members to remind them of each upcoming meeting, for chairing each meeting, and for taking notes.
Each convenor is also asked to submit to Joan and Bernard by about the second Tuesday of each month an email summarizing activities of their working group during the prior month.
Based on these emails, Joan and Bernard write a monthly report on Durham Connect activities. This is presented to the town board at its meeting on the third Tuesday of each month. Copies are available here.
A source of background information
Working group members may find useful background information on Durham in Appendix 1 to the Comprehensive Plan, accessible above.
Methods of holding meetings
There are three main ways in which a working group meeting can be held:
- Meetings can be held In person, with masks and social distancing. Such meeting can be indoors at the town barn (7309 Route 81 East Durham, at the intersection with County Route 27), or outdoors at Brandow Park (where there is a roof to protect against sun or rain). At the town barn there is WiFi (the guest network’s password is “Visitors”); at Brandow Park there is no WiFi or cellphone network. If convenors want to hold a meeting at the town barn, they should ask Janet Partridge, the town clerk (email@example.com), whether it’s available; it usually is. It’s open Mondays through Thursdays 8 am to 3 pm. If convenors want to hold a meeting at the town barn at any other time, they should arrange for Janet, Joan Breslin, or some other town employee or town board member to open it up and then lock it at the end.
- Meetings can be held via Zoom video, which also permits non-video-users to call in by phone.
- Meetings can be held via call-in phone, using some service such as that provided by FreeConferenceCall.com
Which of the above three approaches to use for each meeting is for convenors to decide. Probably no method will satisfy everybody in a working group, so convenors will just have to go for what they feel is best for the majority of their group.
If Durham Connect plans an activity that costs money, one option is for the town board to cover the costs of that activity from the town budget. But this won’t often be possible; the town budget is tight. The other option is for Durham Connect or the town board to raise the needed funds from external sources.
Regarding the latter option, Recommendation 1 in the Comprehensive Plan says:
“[Durham Connect should] seek grants that will help finance implementation of the recommendations in the Plan. Possible sources of funding include state and federal agencies, private and community foundations, and Durham residents. If the grants have to be made to a nonprofit organization rather than to the town, and if an appropriate nonprofit organization does not already exist, [Durham Connect should] establish and operate a nonprofit organization to request and administer these grants.”