Sunday, May 2, 2010

Amherst Historical Commission Moves Ahead on Preservation Projects

Spring Town Meeting begins tomorrow night. It should be (famous last words) one of the less complex and contentious ones, because the recent tax override greatly simplifies the financial picture and obviates the need for agonizing choices. Controversy will probably center on only a few articles, one (# 16) involving a major economic-development initiative that could result in the creation of 500,000-square foot professional research park in North Amherst.

There are few historic preservation items, as such, on this year's warrant (# 17, CPA), and they should be uncontroversial (more on those in a later posting). The only one generating the slightest bit of heat so far is a proposal to purchase a piece of former farmland for multipurpose uses: mainly recreational grounds adjoining a school, but also conservation and, we hope a combined affordable housing and historic preservation use of the old residence. (There are also wetlands/conservation areas.) Although some people have questioned the wisdom of the measure, it should be a no-brainer. As the Conservation Director has explained, a chance to acquire a prime large piece of property close to the center of town is a rare, and perhaps today unique opportunity. It's not the sort of situation in which one wants to leave the development to the vagaries of the private market.

In the meantime, the real news for us on the Historical Commission is that we are moving steadily ahead on the record number of projects for which we secured funding last year, on the occasion of the Town's 250th anniversary. Updates will follow shortly.

In the meantime: let the games begin.

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