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Part 1 in a series

By M.E. Jones

Correspondent

SHIRLEY -- When Richard Hatch sat down with a Shirley Oracle reporter at the Water District office, where he's been an elected commissioner for many years, the intent was an interview about his recent resignation as Shirley's appointed representative on the Montachusett Area Regional Transit (MART) advisory board, a post he's held for three decades.

With no public transportation except the MBTA train that stops in Shirley, the town's vested interest centers on the train station, which is why MART representation matters. The advisory board seat is now open, the selectmen said, when they acknowledged Hatch's resignation letter last week, and anyone interested in serving should let them know.

But Hatch's term is over, and the story grew over the next hour or so, as talk turned to other things, from civic activities he's been involved in over the years, to changes in the small town where he has lived all his life, to career paths that opened up for him during World War II, when many young men just a few years older than he was then were leaving their hometowns and jobs to join the armed services.

"I had a lot of opportunities," he said.

These stories seemed to spring out of the main topic like branches on a tree. But first, Hatch's explanation for his decision to step down from the MART board, basically, a rehash of his resignation letter.

In part, it was because he felt increasingly ineffective acting on the town's behalf, he said, citing one issue in particular that he consistently brought up and suggested solutions for, but which remains unresolved: MBTA parking lot maintenance and the gap between the 25 spaces the town is paid for plowing and the number of spaces commuters actually need and use.

Hatch mentioned that issue in his letter. "Obviously more space was required in the winter months, so the DPW plowed ... from the side of the tracks on Ayer Road, almost to the entrance of the Bemis Company," he said, all of it MBTA property. The gravel soil required grading, but it served the purpose.