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April 20, 2014

Mayor Zanni says he won't participate in stadium advisory board

METHUEN — The nascent stadium advisory committee could be handicapped before it gets off the ground as Mayor Stephen Zanni said at least three members would not participate.

Zanni has drafted a proposed change to the committee, which the City Council voted to create April 7, that would scrap the original list of members and simply designate the Methuen Athletic Improvement Committee as an advisory committee to a Nicholson Stadium renovation project that could total more than $2.8 million.

“The MAIC shall serve as the official advisory committee and I will keep them informed,” Zanni said last week.

He said he would be the official spokesman for the group.

The proposal is the latest move in a tug-of-war for control of and influence over a renovation project that, after languishing for years, suddenly is moving fast.

A divided council voted 5-4 at its April 7 meeting to create the nine-member committee, which would include the mayor, community development Director William Buckley, Superintendent Judith Scannell, two members of the City Council, two members of the School Committee and two members of MAIC.

Zanni said neither he nor Buckley would participate on the committee, which must be voted on a second time April 22 before it is officially formed. He also said Scannell did not plan to participate.

“My understanding is the superintendent doesn’t want to be part of that as well,” he said. “I’ll ask School Committee members if they want to be involved. If it goes through and they want to be part of it, they can.”

The mayor sits on the School Committee as its chairman per the city charter. Scannell reports directly to the School Committee and Buckley reports directly to the mayor.

Should Zanni, Buckley, Scannell and the School Committee refuse to sit on the committee, it would be without a majority of its members.

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