Committee works to update bylaws to conform with new charter

Staff Writer
Monday, October 08, 2018

AMHERST — A three-member committee that has been examining existing town bylaws will be bringing recommendations forward to Amherst’s first Town Council about how to make these conform with the new town charter adopted by voters in March.

Bylaw Review Committee Chairman Robert Ritchie told the Select Board at a recent meeting that the purpose of the ongoing work is to take existing regulatory material that guides the town and bring it over to the new government, presenting its findings to the council that will be seated in December.

The main goal, Ritchie said, is to take what the town already has and make it suitable for the town charter. Most of the focus has been on Amherst’s general bylaws and zoning bylaws.

Committee member Bernie Kubiak said the effort has included giving the bylaws a uniform voice throughout and crafting revised language that will give the Town Council “a running start.”

Some of the work, for example, has been replacing all references in the current code to Select Board and Town Meeting, and ensuring that gender neutral terms are used throughout.

The committee is aiming to have a master document on the town website that is easily navigable, so residents can understand the contents of the home rule charter, the local options statutes that have been accepted by the town, all general and zoning bylaws and the rules of procedure and rules of order for the Town Council.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman complimented the committee for being “very diligent” through many meetings and receiving staff support from Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz.

Bockelman said doing this review of bylaws in a community undergoing change in government is common, but often comes with a significant price tag. Ritchie, though, is a resident, municipal law expert and former town counsel and is offering his expertise as a volunteer.

Stockbridge anniversary

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a weekend of activities.

The events will include a reception at the Old Chapel at 6 p.m. Friday and a gala at the Student Union Ballroom at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, bus tours of the Agricultural Learning Center on North Pleasant Street in Amherst, the Cold Spring Orchard Research and Education Center in Belchertown, the Hadley Farm, the Joseph Troll Turf Research Center in South Deerfield and the Levi Stockbridge Homestead in North Hadley will take place, followed by lunch in the John W. Olver Design Building Atrium from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Stockbridge School was created by the state Legislature in 1918 and named after the college’s first professor, Levi Stockbridge. Gov. Charlie Baker recently declared Oct. 6 as Stockbridge School of Agriculture Day in Massachusetts.

Concert on race

“Deeper Than The Skin,” a music presentation on race in the United States, will be performed by Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Meetinghouse at 121 North Pleasant St.

Harris is the Woodrow Wilson Scholar and the Music Education Director of the Living Legacy Project of the Unitarian Universalist Association, co-leading tours through the historic sites of the Civil Rights movement in the South, while Greenway has been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, Mountain Stage and Car Talk, as well as playing Carnegie Hall.

The presentation will be interactive and the audience will have an opportunity to discuss race at the end of the evening.

For Freedoms event

A national conversation on art and democracy called “For Freedoms” will be coming to the University of Massachusetts next week.

The University Museum of Contemporary Art will host a lecture with For Freedom’s Co-Founder, Eric Gottesman, and the For Freedoms Town Hall “Art, Activism, and Social (In)Justice?” on Oct. 11 and 12.

Gottesman will present an artist talk about his personal work and the innovative work of his organization from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11. The following day, Gottesman will moderate a panel of artists and educators in a For Freedoms Town Hall to explore and discuss the role of democracy, art and civic action on campus, also from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Panelists will include Stephanie Shonekan, chairwoman of Afro-American Studies at UMass; Joseph Krupczynski, director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning at UMass; Omid Shekari, artist and lecturer in the Department of Art at UMass; Emily Tarelia, artist and UMass MFA candidate; and Miatta Kawinzi, multidisciplinary artist and visiting professor at Hampshire College.

Gottesman and fellow artist Hank Willis Thomas were inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, the freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.


TUESDAY: Bylaw Review Committee, 9:30 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall; Amherst School Committee, 6 p.m., high school library.

WEDNESDAY: School Equity Task Force, 6 p.m., high school library.

THURSDAY: Board of Assessors, 11 a.m., and Finance Committee, 7 p.m., both at First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.