STOP BY FOR OFFICE HOURS WITH DOROTHY at the Jones Library, 2nd floor Amherst Room. Wednesdays June 1, July 6, and August 3rd at 12:30—2:00.
JOINT OFFICE HOURS WITH JENNIFER at the Jones Library, 2nd floor Amherst Room. Saturdays June 11, July 9, and August 13th from 10:00—12:00.
SPECIAL OFFICE HOUR AT THE SENIOR CENTER IN THE BANGS COMMUNITY CENTER
Come and talk with your District 3 Town Councilors: Dorothy Pam and Jennifer Taub at 10:00 am on Thursday June 30th in Room 101.
***MAJOR MEETING for Precinct 10 District 3 THIS WEEK: Thursday May 26th at 6:00 pm the Zoning Board of Appeals PUBLIC MEETING: PUBLIC HEARING: ZBA FY2022-11 – Fearing Sunset, LLC c/o Thomas R. Reidy, Esq. – Request a Special Permit to allow the construction of 2 apartment buildings and 4 duplex buildings, with a total of 17 residential units, including 2 affordable units, on an approximate 2.04 acre property, under Sections 3.01, 3.3211, 3.323, 5.10, 6.29, 10.38 of the Zoning Bylaw, located at 164 & 174 Sunset Avenue (Map 11C/Parcels 9 & 299), General Residence (RG) and Neighborhood Residence (RN) Zoning Districts.
To join the meeting via computer: https://amherstma.zoom.us/j/81946064224 To join the meeting via telephone: Call (646) 876-9923, enter webinar ID when prompted: 819 4606 4224. When prompted to enter your participant number press #
Contact: (413) 259-3120 Email: Maureen Pollock, Planner
Meeting materials will be posted here; materials may be added or changed up through and after the meeting date.
Note from Dorothy: Tune in and add your voice: Residents of the Sunset/Fearing neighborhood are very interested in the design details of the proposal for this new townhouse development which they hope will help provide some of the workforce and family housing so badly needed to preserve strong year-round residential neighborhoods, local schools, and a strong tax base.
Amherst Town Council calls on Biden to cancel student debt, article by Scott Merzbach in the Hampshire Gazette May 18th.
AMHERST — Amherst’s Town Council is making an appeal to President Joe Biden to cancel all student debt, joining Northampton’s City Council in passing such a resolution. “It has turned out to be a terrible, terrible trick on young people,” said District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam, calling the student loan system a complete shambles. “We now have a whole generation of people, or two generations, unable to move forward with their adult life as they are completely weighed down and burdened by this debt.” Several councilors agreed with the problem of excessive student debt but were worried that this approach might have unforeseen negative consequences. “We’re not passing policy on this one,” said At-Large Councilor Andy Steinberg, also a co-sponsor. “We’re stating a preference to get attention of our elected officials to impress them to move in a direction to address a serious problem.”
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS THREATENED
Amherst’s own demonstration was on the corner of Main and East Pleasant Streets, protesting the Supreme Court’s draft decision on Roe v. Wade. District 3 resident Rani Parker, determined to have an Amherst demonstration contacted Town Councilor Dorothy Pam (District 3) “and they showed up at the event dressed in the red robes and white wimples worn by handmaids in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.” Stay tuned for a possible demonstration in Amherst, perhaps June 4th. The full article by Art Keene, Amherst Indy, Amherst residents stand out to support abortion rights, May 20, 2022.
My Opinion Piece, “The Importance of Public Comment,” printed in the Amherst Indy
Opinion: In A Democratic Society, The Public’s Voice Must Be Heard, by Dorothy Pam
The Woman’s right to choose motherhood is a basic foundation of a free society. The patriarchy prefers women voiceless and so busy doing domestic work in the home that they have no time to get in the way of the grand plans of the powerful. Having a voice in one’s own future, believing that children are a blessing, not a curse, that every child deserves to be wanted, loved, and cared for, and not a primal punishment for Eve’s dangerous quest of knowledge, underlies ALL democratic societies. Forced childbirth is an abomination.
Just as women’s voices must be heard, so does the public deserve to be listened to. The non-expert, those not in power, those in fact affected by the plans of the chosen leaders, have a right to ask questions and to be heard. Yes, public comment can slow down “progress,” can make plans more expensive to carry out, can be a lot of trouble. But without it you have the kind of efficiency we have long associated with fascistic governments. The trains may run on time, but who is on those trains? And where are they going? So too, free women can be a lot of trouble. It’s easier to suppress our voices, tell us we don’t understand the grand picture, are too responsive to people, feelings, families, neighborhoods, are too emotional, not efficient and logical. But justice requires that we be part of the decision, that our voices and concerns be part of the plan. Many wish that we would just shut up and let the powerful and knowledgeable carry on. But that is not good for the individual nor for society. Someone must always be free to tell the emperor he has no clothes.
So although I am, and because I am, a democratically elected Town Councilor, I seek public comment. I see it as part of my job to alert the public, those in my district, those affected by the plans. Public comment is a right, not a privilege. This essential outreach is how local government can be more than the plans of the powerful to achieve their own ends, making their own fortunes sometimes at our expense. We need them and they should need us. Only when balance is achieved can we have progress that is fair, effective, and democratic. Free women, a free society takes more time and work but is worth it.
Tune in and let your voice be heard at the following meetings
Finance Committee is holding budget hearings on various town departments, leading up to the town /council vote on the budget on June 13th. It may surprise you to know that these meetings are fascinating in their detail on how the various departments of the town work. May 26 9:05am Facilities will be discussed. June 6 9:05am Finance Committee: Public Forum on Capital Improvements
May 26 6:00pm ZBA Fearing/Sunset Townhouses (see article above)
June 3 6:30 pm Town Services and Outreach (TSO)—Discussion of Water and Sewer Regulations, including the issue of where to draw the line of ownership of water and sewer pipes between the Town and the owner of private property.
Town Council meets at 6:30 on Zoom on June 6, 13, and 27. The Vote on the Town budget for 2023 is on the 13th.
WHAT IS THE TOWN SERVICE & OUTREACH COMMITTEE (TSO) AND WHAT IS IT DOING?
There are four Town Council committees: Community Resources Committee (CRC); Finance Committee; Government, Organization, & Legislation Committee (GOL); and Town Services & Outreach Committee (TSO). TSO has 5 councilors as members with one-year terms and the Town Manager as staff liaison. Its purpose is to advise the Town Council on matters concerning the day-to-day provision of services by Amherst government and relations between the Town and the community. The 2022 TSO Committee includes Shalini Bahl-Milne, Ana Devlin Gauthier, Anika Lopes, Dorothy Pam, and Andy Steinberg. TSO meets every other Thursday at 6:30pm on Zoom.
The charge of TSO is as follows:
· Review and make recommendations to the Town Council on measures that may affect the provision of services to the community by a Town department.
· Review and make recommendations to the Town Council on measures related to public ways (including transportation and parking), public lands, and Town facilities.
· Review and make recommendations to the Town Council on all appointments of Town department heads filed by the Town Manager [Charter Sec. 2.11(a)].
· Review and make recommendations to the Town Council on all appointments to multiple member bodies filed by the Town Manager [Charter Sec. 2.11(b)].
Outreach & Community Relations
· Advise the Town Council on matters that broaden participation and ensure
regular and transparent communication and outreach to residents of Amherst.
· Work with the Community Participation Officer(s) [Charter Sec. 3.3(d)] to engage
· Advise and make recommendations to the Town Council regarding Town Council
participation in community events.
· Review and make recommendations to the Town Council on issues and measures
regarding the relationship between the Town and Amherst institutions of higher education.
Below are a few examples of items discussed in TSO. The Town Council often refers items to TSO, so that after their discussion with Town departments, TSO will make recommendations to the Town Council for further action.
Recent actions of TSO include: Making a recommendation to the Town Council to ensure that there be a turnover of parking spaces next to Kendrick Park so that parents and grandparents could park their car when bringing children to the park.
At the May 5th meeting, after a Public hearing on proposed parking regulations, VOTED unanimously, 5-0 by roll call, to recommend to the Town Council that interim steps be taken as soon as possible, including implementing one-way northbound traffic from McClellan Street to Triangle Street, and moving parking spaces to the east side of North Pleasant, and that twenty spaces near the park be metered parking with a 2-hour limit from 8 am to 6 pm at a rate of 50 cents/hour, with three of those spaces designated handicapped; and to recommend that the North Pleasant on street parking plan be implemented as follows:
· 1 parking space for handicapped parking and designed for a van.
· 2 other parking spaces for handicapped parking.
· 7 back-in parking spaces for permit parking enforced from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
· 3 parallel parking spaces for permit parking enforced from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
· 20 back-in parking spaces for metered parking at 50 cents/hour with a two-hour parking limit enforced from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Discussed and endorsed the recommendation presented to us for the Proposed Revision of Fees under General Bylaw 3.50 for Residential Rental Property which could include increased fees for all rental properties, consideration of how to treat properties with many units, lower fees or exemptions for owner occupied houses, and penalties for properties that do not get registered. Increased fees could help with the cost of inspections. At this time, properties self report and get inspected upon complaint of tenants or neighbors for such things as excessive noise or littering. The Town Council will vote on this when in final form.
Are carefully studying all water and sewer regulations in preparation for a Public Forum on June 2 on Responsibility for failure of water and sewer service lines from the main to the home, rental property, business, or institution. Possible solutions are homeowners buying private insurance coverage where available, perhaps facilitated by the Town, the Town taking responsibility up to the homeowner’s property line, or the Town taking responsibility for the line up to the meter. The cost for replacement of a broken water or sewer line can run anywhere from $8,000 to $30,000, depending on length of line, replacing sidewalks and lawns after the new pipe is installed. It must be understood that the more responsibility the Town takes, the more maintenance and repair of lines on private property it must pay for, then the higher rates the Town must charge all property owners for water and sewer service.
Recent meetings have featured a DPW presentation on Roads, an overview on addressing conditions of roads and sidewalks that showed how decisions were made and listed categories of roads and sidewalks in greatest need of repair or replacement. Stressed our continued commitment to sidewalk repair for increased pedestrian safety for all ages.
The Recent Presentation on Town Outreach by the three Community Participation Officers (CPO’s) Brianna Sunryd, Angela Mills, and Jennifer Moyston outlined all the strategies and technologies for community engagement and public outreach currently in force.
Began discussions on the unmet needs of Amherst Senior Citizens. Hayley Bolton, Director, Amherst Senior Services, and Rosemary Kofler, Council on Aging, gave a presentation that outlined the needs of Amherst seniors, emphasizing the inadequate facilities, staffing, and budget needed to provide adequate services. Quoting studies and comparison charts, they showed that Amherst is way behind its neighbors in square feet of space and budget dollars for program activities and services. They concluded that Amherst seniors need a new building built expressly for seniors, unlike the Bangs Center where they have little space for classes and activities, a barely functioning kitchen, lack of light and good acoustics, lack of safety features, and insufficient storage and parking.
DON’T MISS THESE TOWN EVENTS
May 28 10:00 am—May 29 7:00pm Odenong Powwow 2022
Native American Intertribal & Competition Dancing, Traditional and contemporary Native American crafts, Indigenous food, Eastern Social Songs & Stomp Dance exhibition, audience participation dances, clothing, jewelry, flute music, fundraiser raffle and auction.
May 30 9:00 Memorial Day Parade organized by the Veterans Department. Meet at the Spring Street Parking Lot and march to the War Memorial. Speech by Robert H. Romer on his new book I Am a Bitter Enemy to Slavery: An Amherst College Student Goes to War, Christopher Pennell (1842—1864) and performance of the Amherst Pelham Regional High School Chorale.
June 18 Amherst Juneteenth Celebration. Check for details closer to the date. Juneteenth’s commemoration is on the anniversary of the June 19, 1865, announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.
“The Amherst History Museum features special immersive events and exhibits by Ancestral Bridges with images, artifacts, photographs, and millinery that animate the essence of the unique Black neighborhoods and first Black families in Amherst, including the Historic Westside District (Hazel Avenue, Baker Street, Snell Street-designated a National Historic District in 2000 through the efforts of Dudley Bridges, Sr.), Northampton Rd and the McClellan/Beston/Paige Streets neighborhood.”
June 18 11:00—4:00 Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour. This is a first-time collaboration between Ancestral Bridges and the Amherst Historical Society & Museum and explores the unique history and contributions of Black families in Amherst curated and guided by descendants. The tour starts at 11:00am at the historic West Cemetery to discuss the lives and contributions of members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the 5th Cavalry, the soldiers who alerted the residents of Texas that the Civil War had ended, and with it, slavery. Next stops are the Emily Dickinson Museum, the Amherst History Museum, the Hope Church on Gaylord Street, the Zion Church on Woodside Avenue, ending at the Amherst History Museum where the Peter Brace Brigade will be having an encampment & exhibit.
Parking will be provided at the High School; transportation provided for those who cannot walk.
July 1 Town Fireworks and 4th of July Celebration
The Town of Amherst and Amherst Recreation proudly present our Independence Day Celebration on Friday, July 1st starting at 5:00 PM. Join us behind McGuirk Stadium at UMass Amherst located on Stadium Drive. There will be fun for the whole family at this annual celebration. FREE parking. Starting at 5:00 PM: Live Performances, Hot Air Balloon Rides, Beer Garden, Games, Prizes, Food, Raffles & More (Cash ONLY)
Fireworks at 9:00 PM
NEW MAPS AND POLLING PLACES
Town Councilors have been asked to convey this information to their constituents.
You can use the interactive elements of this notice to check your individual address, but I will try to give a general summary of changes in voting precincts. As of now, Town Councilors represent the districts in effect when they were elected. The next election, September 2022, will be for the new districts. As of December 31, 2021, the new district maps and polling places apply.
The present District 3 has two voting precincts, precinct 4 and precinct 10. Those names will disappear. Precincts will be the district number plus A or B. Present precinct 10 will be the new 4-B and include most of precinct 10 plus Amity Place. Most of the present precinct 4 will be the new 3-A. The new precincts 3-A, 4-A, and 4-B will vote in the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School at 21 Mattoon Street.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO REGISTERED VOTERS: CHANGES TO VOTING PRECINCTS EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 31, 2021
Pursuant to MGL Ch. 54 §6, the Town of Amherst has changed its voting precincts as a result of population changes from the 2020 Federal Census. For all voters, your precinct number has changed to reflect the renaming of precincts to correspond to their districts. To view updated precincts, voting locations, and maps click here (link also included below the map).
BACKGROUND & MORE INFO: Every ten years, the legislature and local governments must redraw boundaries that take into consideration population, communities of interest, and state and federal constitutional requirements, amongst other factors. Population is determined by the most recent Federal Census. Amherst’s population per the 2020 Federal Census is 39,263 which represents an increase of 1,444 from the 2010 population (or 3.8%).
In Amherst, we will continue to have 10 precincts for all elections (no change). The precincts, however, have been renamed to correspond to each district in which they reside. The following chart shows the new precinct names and their voting locations:
https://www.amherstma.gov/189/Districts-Precincts-and-Hours. (You can enter your street name to confirm the location of your new precinct.)
District/ Precinct / Polling Location
3 / 3B / Crocker Farm School, 280 West Street
The precinct boundary lines have shifted. Click here for the new map
The upcoming elections for 2022 are as follows:
- State Primary – September 6, 2022
- State General Election – November 8, 2022
Enjoy the bloom of spring, beautiful trees, flowers, and weather. Wear your mask inside and stay safe,