Hello, Amherst!

The Amherst Current will focus on our town’s pressing issues: local elections, infrastructure projects, our changing demographics, new construction, taxes, and much more. We are working with contributors who have deep experience with Amherst issues, and we hope to post twice per week, generally alternating between “explainers” and opinion pieces.

With the decline of traditional media, many people are confused about the many complex challenges Amherst faces. We hope to increase understanding of these issues and provide perspective on them. And we feel that Amherst could benefit from another discussion forum.

Few people have the time to attend or watch the many meetings of Town Council and our boards and committees (thank you, dedicated volunteers, elected officials, and town staff!). So we will try to help you by focusing on what is most critical as you decide what petitions to sign or not sign and for whom to cast your votes.

We want to be clear: we favor building the four proposed capital projects (Jones Library expansion, Public Works headquarters, South Amherst fire station, and a new Wildwood/Fort River elementary school) in a fiscally prudent manner. We support increasing the density of downtown and village centers, as recommended by the master plan, and support business growth and a broadening of the tax base. We will favor candidates who support these goals.

We want to promote civic engagement, civility, and open discussion of the issues that Amherst confronts. We will encourage residents to vote in the November election.

Let us know what you think, and what you want to read about! Subscribe and be alerted to new posts. Email us at theamherstcurrent@gmail.com. And feel free to comment, as long as you can abide by our comment policy and will give your name and email address (we won’t ever display the latter). And, lastly, please forgive technical glitches as we learn how to do this!

— Sarah Marshall and Nick Grabbe

7 thoughts on “Hello, Amherst!”

  1. Thank you, Nick and Sarah. This blog is off to a fine start and definitely fills a void.


  2. I, too, welcome this new blog: Nick is an excellent writer, and –even if we don’t always agree on the “solutions” to the perceived “problems” in Amherst – we both care deeply about the town, and we have dedicated decades of our lives trying to make it better.

    On what do we agree?

    • A new fire station serving South Amherst is essential. Where it should be sited is a challenge: if the existing station in Amherst Center were retained for ambulances and one (small) firefighting vehicle, then a South Amherst station at the the intersection of Pomeroy Lane and West Street (or even closer to Hampshire College would make sense); access to East Amherst remains a challenge due to low railroad (and rail-trail!) bridges.

    • Both the Fort River and Wildwood Schools need to be renovated or replaced soon; if they were to be combined into a single, larger school, the more central location of Fort River, with regular public transit nearby, seems to have advantages over the Wildwood site.
    (I like Michael Greenebaum’s ideas for repurposing the Wildwood School building itself, and I hope you’ll invite him to contribute his thoughts to your blog.)

    • Also essential is a more modern DPW facility (or facilities). Rather than siting it on farmland, why not consider former industrial or 21E sites (there are many around town, but no need to name them here).

    Our three Town libraries (and our various college and university libraries, which are mostly open to the public as well) are treasures worthy of greater support; I’ve been a financial supporter of the Jones in the past, but we respectfully disagree about its proposed demolition/expansion (so no endorsement is expected… ;-).

    You asked for issues that readers might like to see discussed here.

    For a start:

    Given that nearly 1000 voters in Amherst petitioned Town Council for a reconsideration or referendum under the provisions of the new Charter, what do the folks behind The Amherst Current think about the way that petition has been handled by the Town?


    1. This is Nick. Thank you, Rob. I expect that we will be addressing all these issues. About a South Amherst fire station, we agree that it is essential, but it is my understanding that the preferred site is the current DPW site.


  3. Wonderful NEWS! Thank you for this needed online summary source. Looking forward to using it as a resource and inspiration to support the important capital projects, upcoming town council elections and a struggling downtown.


  4. Congratulations and best wishes on the launch of this exciting new endeavor which gives hope for a rededication among Amherst residents to courteous dialog and responsible actions for the future of our town.


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