Shutesbury TM to push state for more respect for non-binary individuals

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 03, 2018

SHUTESBURY — An appeal to the Legislature to have state agencies find ways to show more respect for those who don’t identify as male or female is one of many items on the docket for Saturday’s annual Town Meeting.

Other highlights include approval of “small touches” projects aimed at improving the quality of life for residents and placing a moratorium on marijuana establishments.

Discussion and voting on the 30-article warrant begins at 9 a.m. at Shutesbury Elementary School, 23 W. Pelham Road.

The warrant includes an article requesting Sen. Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, and Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, to have the state provide a non-binary, transgender or equivalent option, or give people the right not to disclose such information, when the state is seeking or mandating gender information on things like driver’s licenses and state-issued identifications.

Select Board Chairman Michael DeChiara said the idea is to make the state a more inclusive place for all residents.

The Select Board in March sent a letter to the Registry of Motor Vehicles urging a standardized, non-stigmatized option.

“Most compelling to our decision is our understanding that transgender people in our society are made to feel invisible because they are not recognized or reflected in the binary structure and traditions of our society,” the board wrote.

‘Small touches’ projects

The warrant includes what are being called “small touches” projects in which residents were encouraged to submit ideas for making the town a better place.

Those ideas being recommended include using $20,000 in free cash to build a bandstand gazebo at a site to be determined, and $1,500 in free cash to plant 2,500 daffodils on town rights of way.

Like other communities, Shutesbury will deal with the coming legalization of recreational marijuana. The town is planning a temporary moratorium that will be in effect until Dec. 31.

Voters will also be asked to approve a $6.44 million budget that is $197,145, or 3.2 percent, higher than the current year’s $6.25 million budget.

Included in this proposal is $2.04 million for the elementary school, which is up $91,763, or 4.7 percent, from this year’s $1.95 million budget, while the $1.78 million assessment for the Amherst-Pelham regional schools is just $40,018, or 2.2 percent, higher than the current year $1.74 million assessment.

Next year’s assessment depends on an amendment to the regional formula that must also be approved by Amherst and Pelham. Leverett approved the revised formula last weekend.

Other spending includes transferring $105,550 from free cash to the Shutesbury Broadband Municipal Light Plant for operations costs, spending $40,000 to dig a new town well, purchasing a new police cruiser for $38,000 and spending $34,000 for a new roof at Town Hall.

Capital projects include $75,000 for a used tractor boom mower for the Highway Department, $73,565 for a new playground at the elementary school and $17,000 for new flooring in the elementary school’s fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms, office and music room.

Community Preservation Act funding will include $5,000 for development of a comprehensive plan for the removal of accumulated silt in the North Cove of Lake Wyola and the restoration of the cove to its historical depths.

Other articles to be acted on include establishing an unemployment compensation fund, clarifying that the Planning Board can issue special permits for common driveways and reducing the mandated width of new residential driveways from 12 to 10 feet.