Do the residents of New Bedford still have confidence in their appointed Conservation Commission after the water park fiasco?

Parallel Products isn't a water park for kids who have $20 to play for an hour in the ocean. Parallel Products isn't a little company that rents water-based bounce parks on a seasonal basis. The owners of the water park, Altitude H2O, invested a little over a half a million dollars in their temporary New Bedford business. Parallel Products is investing $50 million in their expanded business in the city's business park.

Both of these businesses fall under the regulatory oversight of the city's Conservation Commission.

The majority of the New Bedford Conservation Commission are serious people who are volunteering their time and minds for the betterment of their city. However, the water park has exposed serious problems with the regulatory and permitting process in the city. The old maxim "people are policy and process" has been catapulted to the forefront in the city.

Conservation Commission Craig Dixon has charged publicly that he was pressured by the office of Mayor Jon Mitchell to unilaterally approve the opening of the water park, despite telling the public otherwise. The other members of the Conservation Commission have publicly stated that they weren't called by the Mayor's Office and that Chairman Dixon didn't inform them of his decision.

Mayor Jon Mitchell has denied his office pressured Chairman Dixon. As of now, Chairman Dixon has offered no evidence the mayor, a former federal prosecutor, pressured him.

Chairman Dixon has also added to his tale with a claim that the angry neighbors near the water park also pressured him at a public meeting. He has offered no explanation or evidence for this new and bizarre accusation against the people he is appointed to represent.

Make no mistake about it, the lawyers for Parallel Products are paying attention to these twists and turns and the accusations being leveled against Mayor Mitchell by Chairman Craig Dixon.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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