, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 25, 2013

Town manager calls on citizens group to refute accusations

SALISBURY — In an unusual public statement, the town manager is demanding that a Salisbury Beach citizens group “repudiate” a newspaper article it emailed to its membership, calling it “false and slanderous.”

The article, published in the Lawrence-based Valley Patriot, contained accusations made by Joyce and Gracemarie Tomaselli, who believe the town has done them wrong over sewer-related fee issues. The court battle between the sisters and the town has been going on for about 20 years, with the town recently winning a court battle in its effort to take the Tomasellis’ Salisbury Beach property for nonpayment of over $250,000 in taxes and fees.

With comments that pulled no punches, Town Manager Neil Harrington not only took to task the monthly newspaper for not contacting the town for comment before printing the article, but he also slammed the Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change, which sent the story all over town via an email on its letterhead.

“I want the citizens of Salisbury to know that these claims are false and slanderous,” Harrington said in a prepared statement at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting. “I am calling on the Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change to repudiate this article and for citizens of this town to disassociate themselves from this organization if they do not do so. The people of Salisbury need to know that their local government will not be intimidated by this ongoing campaign of lies by the Tomasellis and their allies, but will continue to fight for the hard-working taxpayers of this town against the efforts of a small group of self-interested zealots who are trying to mislead them.”

All five selectmen added their agreement to Harrington’s statement after he finished.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Henry Richenburg said Harrington’s verbal reprimand was warranted and long overdue. Selectman Fred Knowles added he couldn’t stand by the Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change if it tried “to mislead people,” concerning the town’s position in the Tomasellis complaint through circulation of the article.

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