Around Amherst: Public input on new school project welcome at forums

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-20-2023 9:10 PM

AMHERST — Two public forums on the elementary school project expected to be subject to a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override vote in the spring are being held next week.

After cost estimates and other updates on the project from the designer and owner’s project manager are presented at Monday’s Town Council meeting, the forums will serve as a way for people to give feedback to the Elementary School Building Committee.

The virtual meetings will be held Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and are also an opportunity to get an overview of the building that would be constructed at the Fort River School site on South East Street.

The project’s total cost is currently pegged at over $100 million, though residents will be responsible for only a portion of that due to reimbursements from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said he appreciates the MSBA recently increased the reimbursement rate to towns for school building projects and added that reducing costs will be part of a public process.

Bockelman said the exact amount the town will have to be pay will be determined in the spring.

“The key number is what will the taxpayers pay,” Bockelman said.

Both meetings will cover the same topics. To join, go to https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84075498020. The meeting ID is 840 7549 8020.

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To learn more about the project, go to amherst-school-project.com/.

Woman’s Club talk

The Amherst Woman’s Club is launching its 2023 schedule of in-person events with a talk by Pamela Nolan Young, the director of the town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department, Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Her talk, titled “Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant,” derived from an Emily Dickinson poem, will include sharing her background, education and her vision for the new department.

Tea and conversation time follows every meeting, and guests are welcome for the free event.

The Amherst Woman’s Club is located at 35 Triangle St.

MMA Conference

Earl Miller, the director of Amherst’s Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service, will be presenting on mental health and policing at the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting and trade show at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Friday and Saturday.

Miller will be on a panel with Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn.

Brianna Sunryd, Amherst’s director of communications and civic innovation, will also be speaking at the conference, Bockelman said.

Ecclestone memorial

A memorial service for a senior technician who retired from the Information Systems Department at the Amherst Regional Public Schools in 2017, and who died last year, will be held at the high school auditorium Saturday at 2 p.m.

The event will honor the life and legacy of Brian Ecclestone, who was a regular at school and community events that required lighting and sound expertise. Ecclestone also was a musician for high school musicals.

A plaque is being installed at the light booth in the high school auditorium memorializing Eccelstone’s contributions to the performing arts, which will be unveiled at the gathering.

Jones Library program

“Literature and Laughing on England’s Coast to Coast Trail” will be presented by Jill Franks on Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library.

Franks, a long-distance hiker and English professor, will describe her trek through the Lake District, Dales, and Yorkshire Moors.

The free event is the fourth in a planned series titled “Hit the Trail.” The presentation is made possible by the Friends of the Jones Libraries.

For more information, contact Janet Ryan at 413-259-3223.

Meetings

MONDAY: Town Council, 5:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Amherst School Committee, 6:30 p.m., high school library

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