Letter: Avery Site Should be Arts Center

Jay O'Brien relates how the committee came to its decision.


The following was submitted by Jay O'Brien, Vice-Chair of the Avery Reuse Committee.

Dear Selectmen:

As the Vice Chairman of the Avery Reuse Committee I want to thank you for publicly acknowledging the tremendous effort put forth by the committee and the hard work and determination it took to produce the report.  Our recommendation for a specific re-use of Avery – an arts and community center – was arrived at after extensive consultation with the community and a great deal of research. That research showed that an arts and community center leased to a community-based non-profit can be financially self-sustainable and would be highly desirable to the local community.  Municipal use was given due consideration until we determined there was no interest in the facility for that purpose.  The culmination of our collective effort is reflected in the report, as is the level of support – unanimous.

We as a committee realized that our recommendation could not be a simple statement or recitation of what was or was not beneficial and acceptable to the neighborhood. It was much more complicated than that. The Committee at Large created a subcommittee that could help to articulate all the thoughts and recommendations expressed throughout our meetings, and thereby to create a blueprint of sorts for the Board of Selectmen to use if it decides to go forward.   It is also a “living document,” a model so to speak, with all the necessary support elements or cornerstones for any future committee to follow and the steps to implement the Committee’s recommended use of an Arts and Community Center.

Each of the four subcommittee members charged with producing this report brought a unique repertoire of skills and background.  The mission statement reflects Paul Reynolds’ unique brand of creativity and is imbued with his energy and a sense of entrepreneurship that comes from his business and marketing background.  Marie Naughton’s ability to meticulously record and edit all the long meeting minutes into a concise and coherent record of the committee’s proceedings, provided a context for  the roadmap we have produced for you.  My own past work on Dedham’s Master Plan gave subcommittee’s work a perspective on which to base the findings and to move forward with stepping stones put in place for the implementation of the recommended re-use. Joe Heisler, our chairman, used his journalism skills to help format the report and stitch the elements together.

The report speaks for itself. But please feel free to consult with this committee in the future if there is any doubt or question about our recommendations or intent. On behalf of the entire committee, I want to thank the Board of Selectmen for its faith in our ability to fairly and objectively consider the options and to come to a strong conclusion. I thank my fellow members for their perseverance and determination throughout the process. And finally, I want to thank the public, especially residents of the surrounding neighborhood, for their patience throughout the lengthy process.  Personally, despite the demands upon time and family , this process was worth the effort, and the product was worth the wait.  


Jay O’Brien, Vice-Chair


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