Local Man Hopes New Group Will ‘Take Back Derry’

Michael Gendron misses the Derry he knew, and he wants to bring it back.

Gendron is the founder of Take Back Derry, an organization dedicated to restoring the quality of life that was the reason people moved to Derry. And he hopes to start at the voting booth.

Gendron blamed apathy for the poor, 6 percent showing at the recent town elections and the skimpy showing in previous years. “The voter apathy resulted in a tiny yet vocal minority in power that is not truly representative of Derry’s constituents,” Gendron said.

In particular, Gendron is disturbed that the “tiny but vocal” voices may, in an effort to save money, cut or gut some of the programs that make Derry what it is.

“Nobody wants to pay high taxes,” Gendron said. “But to close schools and to underfund safety that diminishes our quality of life.”

Gendron, a member of the Derry Downtown Committee, said the committee has suspended meetings because its efforts were “fruitless” and “dismissed.”

He’s a former member of the Derry Arts Council, which leases the Opera House from the town and manages it, and while he can’t speak for the Council, he said he’s still “passionate” about the Opera House and its presence downtown. He expressed concern about the recent efforts by Council members to delay repairs on the building to another budget season. And he expressed more concern about looking only at the bottom line.

“The current Council,” Gendron said, “thinks the Opera House should be a profit-maker.” He pointed to the cultural value of the facility and said in an effort to save money, “the ‘vocal minority’ paints with a broad brush.” And while the Opera House “only” brings $12,000 a year into the town coffers, that’s $12,000 less the town will have if it closes, he pointed out.

He is concerned that the effort to protect the bottom line, and the taxpayer, may affect other cultural and recreational resources. “What’s next?” he asked rhetorically. “Book-burning in MacGregor Park?”

To protect that quality of life, Gendron has formed Take Back Derry and will have an organizational meeting in the near future. He’s also attempted to rally the Downtown Committee to resume meetings, and said those will be happening soon. He’s received several e-mails in support of his plan, he said.

How can one motivate people to get involved? “That’s what I hope Take Back Derry will be about,” he said. “We want to elect a Town Council that is truly representative of Main Street and its citizens, not the ‘tiny but vocal minority.’”

For more information, e-mail Gendron at [email protected]