Serving Amherst, Hadley, and surrounding communities
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05/30/2014 @ 01:31 PM EST
Scott Merzbach’s use of the word “expected,” as in "The property… is expected to be sold … to Landmark to make way for the student housing development” is misleading, and is creating news, instead of reporting news.
This adds to the public’s confusion, with many people thinking that the fight is over, and Landmark has won.
Landmark has not won. They have many obstacles to overcome: a Planning Board and Conservation Commission with many objections, the case in Land Court that could rule against the improper zoning use of student housing, and even Landmark’s possible conclusion that the amount of earthmoving and blasting is too costly (they have never faced this construction hurdle before, especially on land they’re buying for many millions of dollars). Landmark could also realize the university might consider building more on-campus housing, reducing demand, especially for a project so far from campus (multi family industry magazines report investors are shying away from supporting such endeavors); or realizing that UMass has publicly stated they plan little or no growth over the next decade, citing declining high school populations nationwide, as the baby boomers’ children are all graduating college.
Describing the situation as fait accompli has a negative influence on Amherst residents fighting to maintain the character of neighborhoods, and the entire town.
Your paper should be more neutral describing the undetermined outcome. Landmark has dropped projects in other places (recently in Eugene, Oregon). The word “expected” is inaccurate, and I’d appreciate the Gazette realizing its unintended impact. ...(full comment)
Based on the Gazette and Bulletin's coverage, the school administration's handling of this incident has been secretive/opaque, and from the details that have been released publicly it has also been hypocritical.
A double standard apparently exists at ARHS on who can use colloquial language, what behavior will result in suspension, and whether wrongdoers are to receive punishment or to have excuses made for them. Principal Jackson, it is clear where the pressure is coming from, but please realize that there may be as many or more who are 'offended' by the victimizing of this student and his banishment from graduation. ...(full comment)
Rule number 2 for being an effective teacher is to teach children how to be an adult. "sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you". By reacting in such a juvenile way she has taught anyone who has low self esteem a lesson in how to be vulnerable. Good job. ...(full comment)
It is rare for a child to actively hate a person who shows love for them. Rule number 1 for a teacher is to never let a student think you dislike them, much less hate them.
To determine who is responsible for calling ms. gardener a name, ask her who she hates. ...(full comment)
As a parent of 2 in ARPS and a long time resident, I will not only explain why I am supporting Vira Douangmany for School Board, but why it is critical for our children and our community that she win this election. While my husband and I are able to afford and have considered a private education for our children, one of our goals is to support public school as a foundation for a stronger community...a community we want to live in. If our schools suffer, our community suffers. Our children also wanted to attend ARPS. However, what we have experienced and witnessed for the past several years have been disappointing.
Our schools are in desperate need of a solid and strategic implementation of educational models that have been proven successful for learning...not those heavily laden with test/assessment based instruction, designed for the success of the school, and not of the child. We need administrative leaders who are advocates for the whole, not just their own individual agendas. We can no longer subscribe to the notion that what is only good for a few, select students is enough to sustain an entire school population. This approach only creates imbalances that negatively impact our school as a whole. We need clear direction and progressive action...not long, arduous, baby steps that prove ineffective years later. We need innovation, compassion, understanding...someone that listens and actually hears our diverse voices.
Vira has a proven and successful track record for creating positive change. She actually walks the talk and it shows in her achievements. I met with her for the first time a few weeks ago. She took the time to sit with me and address my concerns. She didn't give me an empty list of her priorities, she actually listened to me and then went over each issue, one by one. She then shared with me, how she would approach them. I left that conversation confident that Vira's presence on the school board is truly needed.
What I learned from that conversation was to always consider why a candidate wants to serve on the school board. Their answers are often very telling. Sometimes, what is revealed is a particular agenda, sometimes it is a political or economic stance. Sometimes, unfortunately, it has little to do with our children. I believe Vira's reasons are simple...an extension of who she is and the work that she's already doing...making sure our world is a better place. And that starts with our children. ...(full comment)
Why I am supporting Katherine Appy for Re-election.
Highlights of Katherine’s first term include:
- Chair of the Amherst School committee for two years
- Leader in efforts to close the achievement gap with programs like Step to Success, the Family Center and Family University
- Championed curricular alignment and data-driven assessment in classrooms
- Advocated successfully for full day pre-school
- Member of school contract negotiating committee (twice), negotiating long term fiscally responsible teacher and staff contracts
- Chair of town committee assessing the costs and benefits of regionalizing the four towns' elementary schools
- Member of the committee on renovating Amherst elementary schools (this committee just received an invitation from the state to submit a plan for renovating or rebuilding with 50% state reimbursement)
- Member of School Policy Sub-committee, School Budget Sub-committee, and Town Budget Coordinating Group (reps of the major town boards work out town-wide budget allocations)
- Member of Town Joint Planning Committee (similar to above, but for capital spending)
Katherine has gained great experience and has ambitious goals for the future, including:
- Make greater strides in closing the achievement gap
- Review the district’s discipline practices and promote positive alternatives that foster respect for all students
- Plan sustainable, long-term budgets that allow for the broadest possible curriculum from science to the arts
- Take steps to rebuild our aging elementary schools.
Katherine will continue to represent the needs of all our kids to foster educational excellence and equity in our schools.
What ever happened to the town agreeing to have a legal opinion determined about building a project that needs Residential Fraternity zoning in a location that is zoned Residential Outlying? Is it so complex that it takes weeks? ...(full comment)
I understand Connie Kruger claiming she cannot express her opinion about the Retreat because of her role on the Planning Commission, but it seems a Catch 22 that keeps voters in the dark. Should people not be able to know where a member of the Select Board stands on this important issue? As she seems likely to win, and then would not be on the Planning Commission, maybe she should resign from the Planning Commission, or recuse herself about this topic on that board, so she can demonstrate the town's supposed "Transparency to the Max." ...(full comment)
I've suggested it all along. Here are a couple other questions:
1. who printed up and sold all those green t-shirts with the "Blarney Blowout" logo and slogans?
2. who advertised the event and sent out notifications via Twitter and Facebook?
3. if 5,000 students were in attendance, and the 10% rule is in effect, then 50,000 people were "invited" to the blowout. Who sent the invitations?
4. the blowout originated in the bars. is there any evidence that the liquor stores have used the logo, slogan, time, location in any of their advertising/marketing materials? ...(full comment)
If someone wanted to open a restaurant in Amherst that served illegal wild game, would the town permit the process to go forward on all other parts of the application, before they stated that the use would be disallowed? Even as the hopeful entrepreneur, I would expect the town to tell me I was heading down a dead end. If, perhaps, the town was nervous that I'd sue them for prohibiting me from pursuing my culinary vision, it would seem the town has an obligation to uphold the law, and another to not waste everyone's time. ...(full comment)
Many people mistakenly think this issue is over, and that the Retreat is going to be built. I think newspaper coverage is largely to blame for this misunderstanding. Your descriptions of the process have a strong bias towards that the project is fait accompli, and only has a few kinks to work out. The reality is that there is a growing number of residents that realize this project is not a good solution to Amherst's / UMass' housing problems; the Planning Board objected to dozens of aspects of the preliminary plan because they think it's a bad plan; that many town officials and public safety departments think the problems the Retreat will cause will be overwhelming; and the environmental impact and harm to neighborhoods will be devastating. The fight is far from over, the Retreat at Amherst is not a certainty, and the Gazette/Bulletin could be more responsible in how it portrays the process. Your job is the report the news, not create it. ...(full comment)