Proponents for Amherst school not persuasive
Amherst Bulletin, Jan. 12, 2017, Letter to the Editor
I write to urge Amherst Town Meeting to reverify its “no” vote on the school project.
Regardless of the merits of the project, the effort by the proponents of the project has the appearance of a small, vocal group attempting to influence Town Meeting into approving not only a new building, but also a radical change in our school system that half the town did not support in the recent election.
Proponents of the new school appear to mostly want a “do-over” to change the result of two democratic processes – the election and the Town Meeting vote – to get their desired outcome. They are passionate, but they do not persuade.
Asking Town Meeting to change two 50-50 votes into the two-thirds majority vote required for an override is ethically and legally ill-advised and will create a precedent that could harm the town in the future.
Efforts would be better spent looking at a range of alternatives, many of which have been identified by other concerned citizens, in the context of declining school enrollment and continued loss of revenue to charter schools.
At the same time, the town’s ability to finance expansion of the Jones Library, a new DPW facility, and a new fire station should be reviewed carefully, as should the impact of continued development downtown on the potential need for a new parking garage.