Town Council 7/1/19

Committee Name: 

Amherst Town Council

Meeting date: 

Monday, July 1, 2019 - 18:30

Meeting Location: 

Town Room, Town Halll

Members present: 

All except as noted

Members absent: 

Bahl-Milne

Observer Notes: 

Highlights
  • Eleven citizens commented on the Northampton Road Studio Apartment project and one citizen commented about creating a town committee on refugees.
  • The council approved a $500,000 bond to support the Northampton Road Project (11-0-1-1).
  • Appointments to many commissions and committees were approved unanimously.
  • Athena O’Keefe was voted in for Clerk of the Council, the position having been separated from the Town Clerk position.
Action Items
  1. Northampton Road Affordable Housing Project Council discussion and public comment preceded the vote on the proposed Valley CDC studio apartment project at 132 Northampton Road.  Prior unanimous votes, by the Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC), the Community Resource Committee, the Finance committee, and the Joint Capital Planning committee were reviewed. Council vote was 11 in favor, none opposed, 1 abstention (Pam, District 3), 1 absent to authorize the required  $500,000 bond.
  2. Proposal was referred to Government, Organization and Legislation Committee (GOL) to create guidelines for how candidates for elected office might publish statements regarding their candidacy, on the town “bulletin board,”as mandated in Section 7.6 of the charter.  The town attorney may also make an ethics review.
  3. The GOL committee will consider and then advise the council about whether proclamations and citations need to be reviewed in advance by GOL or submitted directly to the council president.
  4. A small committee was formed to explore the necessity and/or the feasibility of establishing a position for a town-wide ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinator to maximize the effect of the various organizations currently providing services to disabled persons, as stipulated in the charter.
  5. The charter also mandates a study of the feasibility of permitting non-citizens and residents under age 18 to vote and hold town offices, and the council decided to create a committee to study the matter.  Councilors Steinberg and Brewer stated that although many towns and cities, including Amherst’s former Town Meeting, have passed similar resolutions, they could not be enacted because as of now, they are illegal in Massachusetts.
Appointments

OCA recommendation appointment of the the town manager’s choices for positions on the Historical Commission, Local Historical District Commission, Human Rights Commission, Public Art Commission, Affordable Housing Trust Board of Trustees, and Public Shade Tree Committee. All nominees, were passed without discussion or dissention. DeAngelis recused herself for the vote on appointments to the Affordable Housing Trust Board of Trustees. (Note: there are still vacancies on the Public Art and Shade Tree committees.) Current appointees can be viewed on the town website.

There were no other committee reports, but Steinberg noted that at its next meeting the Finance Committee will discuss the proposed “percent for art” bylaw, which would allocate  a fixed percentage of the budget for new public construction over a certain dollar amount (e.g., 0.5%) for public art. Also, at the next council meeting, OCA will present its recommendations for resident non-voting members to the Finance Committee.

Minutes for June 17 and 24 meetings were passed, with Brewer abstaining.

Athena O’Keeffe was voted as the new clerk of the council and was sworn in by Griesemer.

Town Manager’s Report

Town Manager Paul Bockelman reported on the meetings scheduled for the Rank Choice Voting Commission and the Kendrick Park Committee (composed of residents who want a playground at Kendrick Park). The temporary bridge on Station Road will be installed after the poured concrete is sufficiently set, probably next week. State funding needs to be obtained for the permanent bridge. Puffers Pond is closed because of high e.coli counts. Bockelman met with the board of Amherst Media to review its contract with the town, given the town’s new form of government. The contract will be revised and updated.

A job offer has been made for the position of Council on Aging coordinator. A search has started for a new town clerk, and retired assessor David Burgess has agreed to work part-time.

!!Papers for the fall election are due by September 17!! (Library and School Board...)

Public Comment: 

Vince O’Connor of District 1 proposed that the town create a committee for organizing 50 to 100 host families for refugees and asylum seekers to counteract the government’s claim that they have nowhere to put them.
RO Northampton Rd Project: 11 public comments (including LWV’s Elisa Campbell reporting the League’s support). Of special interest: One comment was presented by a victim of public violence who couldn’t put her name on record publicly, but offered to provide it privately if necessary. Most comments were in favor, but 2 were against it.

League Observer: 

Barbara Pearson