Katherine Appy: It’s time to vote ‘Yes’ on Jones project

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Amherst is on the cusp of beginning its first major capital project in decades with the Jones Library building project. The Town Council voted 10-2 (with one abstention) to accept state money to address the problems with this wonderful, but failing, building.

For the same money it would cost for the major repairs that are necessary just to keep the building open, we can accept state funds for the renovation and expansion without raising taxes and without jeopardizing other necessary town capital projects.

I served on the Amherst School Committee from 2011 until 2017. During my tenure, I also served as a school committee representative on the Joint Capital Planning Committee (JCPC). The JCPC is made up of representatives from all the major town departments along with the town manager and the finance director.

At the beginning of my tenure, I learned of the significant capital needs of the Jones Library, two of Amherst’s elementary school buildings, a fire station that was wholly inadequate, and a Department of Public Works building that didn’t meet the needs of either the people who worked there or the important town equipment it housed.

The cost for all these projects has substantially increased over the years as the town continues to pay for band-aid repairs simply to keep these buildings open.

Despite at least 10 years of discussion and financial planning we have yet to take advantage of our AAA bond rating, our low debt load, and the availability of state funds to take on the big projects we have long needed.

By using town funds along with state grants, Amherst’s long and careful financial plan for all four capital projects can be fulfilled. Let’s stop throwing good money after bad. We can be fiscally responsible and meet the needs of our community. Please vote “Yes” for the Jones Library building project on Nov. 2.

Katherine Appy