Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back and Busy

In a recent comment to my last piece, a student reader gently asked why I was blogging rather than reading senior theses.

Well, in fact, for better or worse, I wasn't.  Reading theses and other student work was precisely what I have been doing. as is all too apparent, I haven't posted anything here for a month—which, mea culpa, is an eternity in the blogosphere—because I was simply too occupied with other matters.

The onset of spring coincides with the busiest part of the academic term, but there have been other special distractions and pressures this year:  for example, completion of work on the Governance Task Force, as we move toward implementation; the search for a new College president, which resulted in the bold choice of environmental expert Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

And here in town, it's been busier than usual, too, with an unprecedented string of zoning and development initiatives:  the final phase of the Kendrick Park planning process , the three-day charrette for the controversial ARA "Gateway" project between UMass and the Town of Amherst, the North Amherst Village Center rezoning visioning process last weekend, and the South Amherst/Bay Road-Atkins Corner planning session yesterday (Saturday). (With any luck, I'll report on some of these—but, the way things are going, don't hold me to that.)

That, and annual Town Meeting, which has now begun, and seems headed for big controversy over issues ranging from the proposed solar array on the old landfill, to zoning amendments on duplexes, parking, and the raising of chickens and rabbits.

It's already been more of a bloody slugfest than many expected. First, there was the unexpected debate over the Community Services line of the budget, and the addition of funds for the re-opening of War Memorial Pool. Then came a protracted fight over Community Preservation Act appropriations—primarily our historic preservation proposals, which for some reason have become a favorite target of naysayers.

Never a dull (or free) moment, it seems.

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