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Around Amherst: Town aims to ‘make a dent in road maintenance’



Staff Writer
Saturday, June 02, 2018

AMHERST — Amherst’s roads and sidewalks will see significant improvements over the course of the next year after Town Meeting approved $1.91 million in spending proposed by town officials.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said the intent of both his budget proposal and capital spending is to prioritize rehabilitating the main ways people get around town, whether on foot, by bicycle or in a vehicle.

“We put as much money into it as we can,” Bockelman said, noting that the money for road paving has been quadrupled from the previous year. “Our roads are in very difficult shape.”

The town was able to appropriate this money by, in part, deferring vehicle purchases for a year.

“We’re looking to make a dent in road maintenance,” Bockelman said.

While some Town Meeting members expressed concern about spending money on directional signs for downtown rather than sidewalks, Bockelman said the $100,000 dedicated to sidewalks still represents a major initiative in his objective of making Amherst a place for people of all ages.

“If we want to be an age-friendly community, we need to have good sidewalks so people can walk,” Bockelman said.

Push for preschool

Before annual Town Meeting wrapped up May 22, some members continued their efforts to expand opportunities for families to send children to preschool.

After Carol Gray of Precinct 7 failed in her effort to reopen the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools budget to turn the Summit Academy campus on South East Street into a new preschool, she tried to get members to not set the free cash account. Deferring this, she said, could have been a way to get more money into the school budgets for early childhood education.

Krista Oesterling Rising of Shays Street called on Town Meeting to set aside free cash for preschool initiatives, noting the loss of the preschool program housed at the high school after 50 years.

“I, too, would like to see preschool restored in whatever way it can be restored,” Rising said.

Vincent O’Connor of Precinct 1 said setting the free cash account doesn’t preclude the regional and elementary schools from from identifying and spending additional funds, including extra chapter 70 state aid that could be directed to preschool.

With Town Meeting being replaced by Town Council later this year, O’Connor said advocacy for preschool will depend on speaking before the Amherst-Pelham Regional and Amherst school committees.

Cuppa Joe

The next Cuppa Joe with Paul, in which Bockelman meets with residents to answer their questions and get public feedback, will take place June 8 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Amherst Coffee, 28 Amity St.

Bockelman will be joined by Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz. Anyone is welcome to drop by to offer comments and opinions about town affairs.

4-H Award

Joyce Mazeski of Hadley recently earned the Bertha L. Ezold Award for going above and beyond in service to club leaders, 4-H programming and leadership.

A longtime volunteer, Mazeski received the award from 4-H Educator Tom Waskiewicz at the Bluebonnet Diner in Northampton

Mazeski has served as a secretary of the Advisory Council, a resource development volunteer and coordinator for recruitment and youth development.

Both Mazeski’s parents, Elsie and John Waskiewicz, previously received the award.

Beatles fundraiser

An acoustic tribute to The Beatles will be part of the next Song & Story Swap and annual fundraiser at the Nacul Center, 592 Main St.

The event, which will benefit the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society, takes place Saturday at 7 p.m.

Performers are invited to sing one or two songs using acoustic instruments.

For more information, contact Paul Kaplan at 413-687-5002 or paulkaplanmusic@gmail.com

Meetings

MONDAY: Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Bylaw Review Committee, 9:30 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Regional School District Planning Board, 9:30 a.m., Ramsdell Community Room, Pelham Library, Pelham.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: CDBG Advisory Committee, 7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.