[Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter to New Milford Mayor David Gronbach.]

Dear Mayor Gronbach,

We are not the minority. We are the majority.

Do you know how I know that? Because I asked and I listened.

My husband, myself and my neighbors spent our weekend reaching out and having conversations with over 150 residents of New Milford, asking them what they knew about the proposed power plant at Century Brass and how they felt about it.

With only six exceptions, the conclusion is clear: They are concerned.

Somewhere in our process, you and select members of the Town Council have forgotten that it is your job to listen to and represent New Milford residents.

And that requires asking and listening.

The fact that that no questions will be allowed during the upcoming sessions with Panda Power underlines your mentality very clearly — “I will personally make sure this project happens regardless of what residents want.”

Having questions submitted via email in advance of the presentations is not about listening to the residents and hearing their concerns. It’s about crafting a message around any objections so that the proposed project will be presented in the most positive light possible and you can justify the actions you are already planning to take.

If this project were truly good for New Milford, you and the Panda representatives would have the confidence to allow questions during the upcoming presentations.

Not only would you allow it, but you would welcome a conversation with residents. You would appreciate the feedback and take action accordingly, regardless of your personal bias.

First you must ask, not tell. Then you must listen. That is the hallmark of a great leader.

You have been quoted and I have heard you say at Town Council meetings “Keep on open mind.” And yet, you are not demonstrating that very quality to your constituency.

From talking to our neighbors, I heard a story about how a 91-year-old longtime New Milford resident with health issues came to you to voice his concern over the impact to air quality and his physical health should this project move forward.

His takeaway from the meeting? You didn’t hear anything he said.

You spent the entire conversation trying to convince him to support the project, regardless of his perspective.

We are the majority. Not the minority.

We are smart, we are kind, and we are passionate about the beauty of where we live and the safety of our neighbors.

And we will not let you and the Town Council ignore what the residents of New Milford really want — no power plant at the Century Brass site.

Lisa C. Hida

New Milford