Jane Wald: Supports legislative council in Amherst

Thursday, February 01, 2018
Supports legislative council in Amherst

An elected legislative Council will strengthen our capacity for timely and coordinated improvements to the quality of life for Amherst residents.

Capital planning and follow-through is but one example of ways in which a council/manager form of government can maintain consistent and informed focus on enhanced services and educational opportunities for all of Amherst’s residents.

Amherst has wrestled with funding for new schools and expansion of our public library. Both programs sought to leverage substantial state grant resources to ease the burden on Amherst taxpayers for decades to come.

But these aren’t the only major capital projects on the town’s horizon. The Department of Public Works occupies an unimproved century-old trolley barn, and residents have been waiting for a new fire station for well over a quarter of a century.

Schools, DPW facility, fire station, and library — all are complex projects involving multiple stages of planning, financing and grant funding, sometimes property acquisition, contingency plans, and unforeseen complications.

Because Town Meeting assembles infrequently, our representatives have limited opportunity to dig deeply into the intricacies of such projects and make informed judgments about their cumulative trajectories and impacts. Checks and balances among Town Meeting, staff and boards/committees don’t work well because of the structural imbalance of attention, application and input from each branch.

Comprehensive long-range planning by an elected council of representatives, accountable to us the voters, and executed faithfully by a town manager will help to chart a steady course for Amherst’s future.

Jane Wald


The writer is a Town Meeting member from Precinct 1.