In the past three years, the Advisory Committee has voted four times on a $70,000 line item in Brookline’s approximately $230,000,000 budget. Tonight, the AC meets to discuss the topic again.
The line item in question is the Commercial Areas Coordinator position held by Marge Amster. Despite the number of votes taken on the position, it accounts for only .03% of the town’s total budget.
The Role of Commercial Areas Coordinator
The Commercial Areas Coordinator connects town government to the community and visa versa. In a nutshell, Ms Amster is a liaison who ensures coordinated communication and efficient use of resources; cost-effective government in action.
The CAC, in addition, is tasked with preserving Brookline’s unique character. In a time when the current trend is to replace downtown districts with shopping malls and national franchises, the CAC works to preserve the distinct flavors of Brookline’s seven commercial districts.
It is challenging for local, independently-owned businesses to maintain their leases when national franchises are ready, willing and able to pay considerably more. Some landlords, supportive of maintaining Brookline’s unique character, are open to working with merchants, while other landlords reside out of state and are not engaged in the community. The CAC is tasked with supporting community involvement, streamlining communication and offering direction to the resources in an effort to support Brookline’s vision of what the community should be.
By all accounts, Ms Amster's job performance has met and exceeded expectations. During the last 4 years, roughly 10 hours of testimony has been given at Advisory Committee and Board of Selectman hearings regarding the CAC position. Members of the community have at times waited in line for hours to voice their support for the position and Ms. Amster. In performance evaluations, her supervisor, Kara Brewton, and her co-workers have characterized her work as exemplary.
The Advisory Committee is an important part of Brookline government. Members are appointed rather than elected, but the Committee serves a vital role in how the town is run. Government works for the people when the people participate in what’s going on. It’s worth switching on the DVR and attending tonight’s meeting to see how your government works.
The Advisory Committee meets tonight at 7 pm in Room 103 of Town Hall.
Catie Hayes, Editor