Friday, December 18, 2015

A town resident weighs in

This letter in support of the appointment of Neil Gile as the new Superintendent to Longmeadow School Committee members was written by Tom Dignazio- a Longmeadow town resident with children attending Longmeadow public schools.

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Dear Committee Members:

I am writing today to express my family’s support for Neil Gile in the search for the new School Superintendent.  I have watched the candidate interviews and follow-up discussion, and feel strongly Principal Gile is best suited to serve the town in this critical role.  I know there will be additional interviews and due diligence, but based on the information available, I believe the choose is clear.

Mr. O’Shea appears to perfectly qualified for the role, and I am sure he would do an adequate job.  However, I believe Mr. Gile brings the following qualities which I have witnessed first hand:

Temperament: Parents in Longmeadow can be particularly assertive in their opinions regarding the schools.  Mr. Gile always treats all questions, concerns, and feedback from the public with respect and appropriate attention, even when such input is partially or ill-informed.   I don’t think it can be understated how important that trait will be in this role.

Common sense: I have been impressed with how Mr. Gile works with parents and teachers regarding discipline and learning challenges.  Being a parent with a child who spent an inordinate amount of time in the Mr. Gile’s office, I cannot stress how fortunate I felt that he was involved.

Transparency/Approachability:  I don’t think I need to tell this group how important this to Longmeadow.   I believe Mr. Gile is best positioned to learn from the mistakes from previous Superintendent.  He has always been open and accessible to Wolf Swamp Road School families.

Finally, I think there is something to be said for the fact that he has kids in our school system. 

I thank you for service on the committee and your diligence in the matter. 

Tom Dignazio
24 Crescent Road

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The DPW Project, in Context

This opinion column was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Alex Grant, Longmeadow Selectman.
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[Click image to enlarge]
The relatively small number of residents at the fall Town Meeting heard the beginnings of a debate that all of Longmeadow should be part of.  The main question at the Town Meeting was whether we should take $438,000 of “free cash” (sadly, it is not like a free lunch, it is just money that is part of our reserves) to pay for further design work on a new DPW facility.  This was a prelude to a question that voters will likely decide in the spring:  whether to override Proposition 2.5 and borrow an estimated $15-20 million to pay for that facility.

There was a presentation in favor of the proposed facility, mostly likely to be placed atop the Wolf Swamp fields, that referenced a number:  $300 per square foot.  This is the estimated cost of constructing the buildings.  Afterwards, I made a presentation that did the math.  To make that $300 meaningful to the voter, I multiplied it by the number of square feet of the proposed facility.  The result is $12.6 million.  Adding in other costs identified by professionals engaged by the Town, such as site work and tearing down the existing facility, we are looking at a low end estimate of $16 million, which does not include the cost of replacing all the field space we would be losing.

Financed over 20 years, the DPW facility would cost the average house ($327,848) an additional $233 per year in property taxes.  For further perspective, consider that the current debt service, i.e., the part of our annual budget that is just paying off debt we incurred for things like the high school, is $3.9 million.  In year one, the DPW facility would add approximately $1.4 million to our debt service.

Residents may have differing opinions about how bearable the DPW facility is from a fiscal standpoint, but the DPW project does not exist in isolation.  At the same Town Meeting, an additional $50,000 was allocated for further design work on a new or renovated senior center.  The Select Board has endorsed the senior center as a priority, and I see a lot of merit in an attractive center that will serve a large number of people.  The cost estimates for the senior center range from $5.9 to $9.3 million, which would add another $85 to $134 to the average property tax bill.

And then there are the middle schools.  Last spring, the School Committee voted to seek state funding for a new, combined middle school, which was something the Select Board was not prepared to endorse at the time.  (I had substantial misgivings about the combining the schools, because consolidation is counter to the educational research.)  Nonetheless, the condition of the middle schools is a real issue, and the School Committee is expected to seek state funding again this spring.  The cost to the average property tax bill?  Depending on whether there are two new schools or one new, large school, an estimated $726 to $922 per year, assuming we receive a decent amount of state funding.

Taken together, these three projects would add $1,014 to $1,339 to the average tax bill.  As I asked at Town Meeting, does anybody think residents are going to go to the polls three separate times to approve projects of these magnitudes?  Meanwhile, the debt service on the new high school runs for 30 years.

I have advocated for some time the need for a public planning process that puts all these projects on the table together.  There are other less visible needs like our roads and water and sewer lines.  Together, those will cost an estimated $157 million.  Currently, there is no capital funding plan.  We need to consider all our needs as a whole and figure out what we are willing to pay for.  This will require us to prioritize, and as I suggested at Town Meeting, consider more modest alternatives.  If the crying need at the DPW is for some garage bays that fit our oversized trucks, surely we can solve the problem of finding a place to park trucks for less than $15 to $20 million.  Most of all, we need to engage the public.

So far, we have looked at projects one at a time.  For all the merit in the new high school project (which I supported), we considered that project in isolation.  This approach rewards projects by how soon they are brought to a vote, not by relative merit.  Putting blinders on and considering the DPW project alone is probably the most effective way of selling that project to the public.  Talking about a senior center or middle schools or anything else is apt to raise second thoughts about whether we can have it all, or whether a senior center may be a higher priority than a state of the art DPW facility.  But choosing the best way to sell a particular project is not the same thing as choosing the best way forward for the Town.

Alex J. Grant is a member of the Longmeadow Select Board. 
His email address is agrant@longmeadow.org.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Fate of Meadowview Farms

This article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.
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[click photo to enlarge]
Don’t you just love Google? I just discovered that the Wolcott-Brewer-Young mansion was named Meadowview Farms by Mary Ida Young. If there was an original name to the place in 1884, I have not found it yet.  Does our community have a say in the future of this empty mansion?

Everyone should agree that the mansion needs love, repair and restoration. A New York bank owns it and offering it for sale is very likely. Who will buy this masterpiece and what will happen when it is sold? The future of this property brings to mind many questions and few answers. Many would agree that we want it to remain a single-family dwelling. To change the zoning of this prominent location on the town green would not necessarily be easy, but we must open up a dialogue. The Planning Board, The Zoning Board and the Community Preservation Committee must speak with the Historic District Committee to discuss the fate of this historical treasure.

An 11,000 square foot home is a big place – unmanageable for most families.  The new owner of 734 Longmeadow Street will have lots to do before moving in. The exterior looks much worse than the interior I understand. Perhaps we should consider a moderate and very limited zoning change here, within the strict guidelines of a historic district. Can CPA funds help to fix the place up? Could a B &B ever be considered, or is that simply unrealistic? How about dividing up the house into 4-5 apartments? Is that out of the question? Let’s take this opportunity to think outside the box, yet control the future of the structure if possible. Guiding the fate with historic preservation in mind can allow us to save the building, and respect the history of the mansion while considering the realities of the future in a positive way.

So much has changed since the 1880s when the house was built. By Longmeadow standards it is not one of the oldest homes around the town green, and other homes may need to adapt in years to come also.  Many date from the early 1800s and even late 1700s. Parking, traffic and neighborhood concerns are all zoning issues to be examined very carefully. How will we move toward the future in a positive way?

Soon after the dawn of the new millennia, I was on a sub-committee for the Longmeadow Long Range Plan. Our main mission was to discuss “Quality of Life” here in this residential community. A continued long-range dialogue is needed now. If the LRP initiative fell dormant, or just receded into the background due to immediate priorities, let’s revive the conversation. The eastside commercial area, zoned for business is now expanding. Can we guide the fate of Route 5 to protect it from development that is not in keeping with its historic past? This is an idyllic stretch of Longmeadow Street, sandwiched between northern Connecticut and the city of Springfield. Without question, our part of Longmeadow Street is beautiful and special with early American homes, mature trees and a very long New England-style town green. It is worth preserving this unique character. I will not give up on a dream of respecting and maintaining the Historic District, but we need to take action. It will not take care of itself. Thank you in advance for becoming part of this conversation. Town leaders will listen when we speak up!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Are coyotes responsible for missing cats in town?

This post is contributed by a Longmeadow resident concerned about the appearance of a coyote in her neighborhood and its harmful effects on cats and our children.
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Coyote- file photo
I am a resident in the Blueberry section of town.  We always have stray cats that appear at our back door, probably drawn by the indoor cats we have.  I have consistently fed a couple of “stray” cats ever since we’ve lived in town (14 years), although not the same strays-one will disappear, another will appear to take their place.  About three weeks ago I was awoken at 1 am by a cat growling outside my bedroom window.  The outside security light was on, and I was able to clearly see a coyote attempting to kill the cat (who was hiding in bushes along the foundation of the house).  The coyote ran off when I shouted at it.  The previous winter I had seen large pawprints in the snow paths around our house.  We are not located in an area with a lot of woods – my house is very near the elementary school, a suburban neighborhood with house lots no more than .40 acres.  We do not border Forest Park.  In the years I have lived in the house, I have observed opossum, raccoon, skunk, fox, and numerous deer in my backyard.  This is the first time I’ve seen a coyote.

I have noticed a number of posters about lost cats in Longmeadow.  I would strongly urge all residents to keep their cats inside.  No matter how much a house cat would love to be an indoor/outdoor cat, you are risking not seeing the animal again if a coyote finds it.  Coyotes are adept predators.  Over the years, I have taken one stray to the vet for puncture wounds (along both sides of the spine of the cat) that appeared to be cause by a predator biting the cat (he recovered), and one other stray that simply disappeared.  These are strays that live most of their lives outside and are experienced with other wildlife.  An indoor/outdoor cat doesn’t stand a chance against a coyote.

I’m hoping your forum could get the word out to the residents.  It is heartbreaking to lose a pet, and probably worse to have one just disappear without ever knowing what happened.  We might live in a suburb, but we share our suburban neighborhood with plenty of predators too.

Also, it is a good idea for residents to be aware of the threat of coyotes.  They are present in our neighborhoods, so making sure children are taught not to approach an animal (which looks a lot like a dog), and be aware when out walking by themselves or with their dogs is probably a good idea.

Thanks for your time.
Mary K. Lewonchuk

Thursday, October 15, 2015

As the month of October begins ....

and the lunar Super Moon eclipse becomes a recent memory, let’s take stock of what is going on around here. Some endings, some changes and even some beginnings!
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This article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.
  1. The Absorbine Junior (Young) Mansion is falling apart before our eyes. Such decrepitude! Will the town leaders or Historic District Commission take action? Can they do anything? I believe that something must be done because so many residents really do care about this town and its history! The bank’s inaction is irresponsible, reprehensible and completely dysfunctional! Can I scream now?
     
  2. Semolina closed! No story here- just disappointment and sadness. They were a really great sandwich shop! Oh well…what’s next?
     
  3. The casino tower, proposed by MGM, is no more! The dramatic skyscraper for Springfield was a dream. Plans have changed and the casino hotel will be low lying and land hugging. Maybe there are more changes ahead…will there be a Connecticut casino?
     
  4. Looks like the two middle schools will not merge into one new structure – at least for now. Stay tuned! The buildings from last century (Williams from 1957 and Glenbrook 1967) will need revitalization at some point. When? The high school was honored in Newsweek Magazine as part of the top 500 High Schools in the country. LHS was number 207! We are near the top at the state level! Congratulations everyone!!!!
     
  5. Real estate seems stable…homes are selling and new families are moving in. There are two baby girls in our neighborhood! Life goes on despite the overall aging population. The average age in our town is 43. It used to be 38 last time I looked. At last count there are 15,784 Longmeadowites!
     
  6. Did you know that there are 9.5 square miles of our town? Permanent open space comprises 30% of the land. There are 750 acres bordering the Connecticut River. Fun fact: Fannie Stebbins Memorial Wildlife Refuge is 320 acres alone! This is a great place to walk your dog! There are six town parks as well, Greenwood, Laurel, Bliss Turner, Storrs Park and the Longmeadow Town Green. Aren’t we lucky?
     
  7. Did you know that Springfield’s Forest Park of 735 acres is the largest city park in New England. We are so fortunate to have this land acting as a buffer to the city’s downtown. Bright Nights begins in less than 60 days! Yipee!
     
  8. More fun facts to consider: 64.9 % of town residents have attended 4 or more years of college. 82% of the residents commute out of Longmeadow for work. How might this change with high-speed rail in our future? It will be a positive change to feel more connected to Hartford, New Haven and points beyond. It cannot happen soon enough!
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This article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.

Monday, August 3, 2015

My interview with Senator Eric Lesser

The following article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.
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The train may not stop here anymore, but please keep your fingers crossed folks! Soon we will be more connected than ever before! If things proceed as planned, we will once more be connected via train to the North-South Corridor from Springfield to Hartford, New Haven and New York City.  This should happen sometime in 2017, which is really not that far away!  Thank Eric Lesser and other hardworking leaders for joining together with legislators from Connecticut to make this dream a long-overdue reality!

There is bi-partisan support with 25 co-sponsors in the House and the Senate for legislation S. 1849. This act will study the feasibility of high-speed rail access between Springfield’s Union Station and Boston’s South Station. The issues to be explored are capital costs, revenue estimates, projected ridership levels, environmental and community impacts and ways of funding. There will probably be creative funding possibilities with a combination of federal, state, local and private sector contributions to the equation. Union Station’s renovation should be completed by the end of next year!

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Eric and some of his staff recently at the Lesser Headquarters in East Longmeadow. I remember Eric as a middle-schooler, so I feel a sense of pride that this Longmeadow student is now a successful senator. Eric explained the challenges and hopes he has for the high-speed rail to be realized in Western Massachusetts. The benefits will be transforming! The job opportunities will be greater, the housing values will increase and we will feel like a bigger part of the New England Community. Eric explained that when the old train system existed in the late 19th - early 20th century, Springfield was the crossroads of New England. When the cars, trucks and other vehicles were created about 100 years ago, the roadways were upgraded and expanded. In the 1950s, when the interstate highways became a reality, the Hartford area became the “new” crossroads as I-91 and I-84 intersected. In some ways, Springfield was forgotten. Also, the “Westa Worcester” mentality added to our isolation from Boston, although we are in the same state. Part two of the high-speed rail story will be the inland connection. We are 55 miles away from Worcester, and tracks do exist for freight trains. We need to reconnect to Worcester and improve the tracks to create a high-speed means of transportation to our Massachusetts State Capital. We do not have a firm timeframe for this, but Lesser is optimistic futurist.

Imagine this: getting to Boston in less than two hours via rail and also getting to Manhattan quickly and easily. No more traffic on the roads… If we can make this a reality, then our community will be connected once again! Twenty years ago when we were considering moving to Western Massachusetts, I was shocked at the idyllic but cut-off quality of the Springfield area. Remember, this was before the proliferation of cellphones, laptops and before everyone had an email account. Times have changed! We need to make our area part of a greater commuter rail system. In Europe this high-speed rail connectivity has already been a reality for ages. We are behind, but we don’t need to stay there!

I often forget that the train tracks still exist in “The Meadows”, but there are reminders. When I walk the dog down in the Fannie Stebbins Conservation area, I hear a train whistle around 11 am. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I hear the evocative whistle as part of my dreams. The tracks are there, we just need to improve them. Speak up! Tell your state reps that this is a huge priority for the next generation. Eric Lesser is part of a bi-partisan initiative to get us back on track – literally! 

Thank you Eric!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Loudest Quietest Place

The following article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.
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It should have been a peaceful summer afternoon, a couple of days after the solstice. Under our lush yellow wood tree, my husband and I sat down in the bucolic backyard for a few minutes to rest after a busy morning. We expected relative quiet punctuated by the sounds of songbirds.  Much to our consternation, trucks could be clearly heard roaring down the road along with construction workers digging up the street nearby and high decibel lawn mowers tending to the yards.  Repaving season is upon us. Drilling, digging, fixing, resurfacing…. it's an endless cycle of renewal during this time of year. It was a cacophony of outdoor sounds that proved deafening to my aging ears.  We left the big city over twenty years ago to raise our family in a more tranquil setting…what was going on? 

There is too often a confluence of events in our neighborhood that produces these layers of unharmonious irritating noises! There are the welcome sounds, such as waking up to the pecking of an early morning woodpecker in Bliss Woods and the music of various birds that start singing around 6 am. Later in the morning, those beautiful natural aural treats are rudely interrupted by the recently altered air traffic pattern, with Bradley’s flight paths now going straight over our roof. Then as the airplane passes above, a chainsaw begins to trim a huge oak tree in our neighbor’s yard with another unwelcome loud lawn machine in the backdrop and hammering across the street. To make matters worse, we hear an ambulance heading north towards Springfield and then a fire truck races behind it…a horn honks, a dog barks, a child cries and a bee is buzzing around my flowers! I try to meditate. A medley of mechanical sounds derails me. Next, the ceaseless infernal back up warnings of equipment and backhoes…Beep, Beep, Beep. Then along come the garbage trucks, slamming on their brakes and banging those trashcans upside down.  Ah, country life! Do you remember the song from the TV show Green Acres? Can you recall the words and the tune?

Eddie Albert’s character: “Green acres is the place to be! Farm living is the life for me! Land spreading out so far and wide, Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside”
His wife played by Eva Gabor replies: “New York is where I’d rather stay…I get allergic smelling hay, I just adore a penthouse view, Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue… “
“The stores! The chores!
Fresh air! Times Square
You are my wife. Goodbye city life.
Green Acres, we are there!”

This memorable song just makes me chuckle. Longmeadow may not be “The Country” but it certainly feels like the suburbs in a bucolic setting! I may not identify with the couple from the TV sitcom of the 1960s but it sure was funny to see that our town has a street called Greenacre. There are things that I miss about our Manhattan lifestyle, and more things that I treasure about our Longmeadow life.  The sounds of taxis honking and construction workers repairing and building the streetscapes of NYC sure were even louder than here, but they were expected and go with the territory. The city of Springfield is certainly not a major metropolitan area, but when the casino comes it certainly will bring with it some traffic and congestion! I’m anticipating the sights and sounds worsening as the construction on Interstate-91 progresses and the casino development gets underway. The historic semi-rural nature of our town has managed to survive the last century as our farming community developed into a commuter suburb. Let us hope that the character, integrity and privacy of our hometown can survive and thrive as we move forward towards our future. In the meantime, please don’t mow your lawn or for that matter blow your leaves after 6 pm and refrain from making loud mechanical noises on the weekends…I need some peace and quiet to write.

Betsy Huber Port

Saturday, June 27, 2015

RECC Alternatives

This letter was received by Longmeadow Buzz from Jeffrey Klotz
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Mr. Crane,
 
Having reviewed the Hampden County RECC Feasibility and Technology Study Report prepared by The Carell Group, Inc, I have a very hard time understanding why you choose, at the point, to push forward.

In the Executive Summary (page 7) the report indicates that the basic premise for basic cost effectiveness of plan implementation is based on the receipt, from the State, of a 200% 911 Subsidy.  No where in the report is the certainty of the collection of this subsidy discussed, and the State has demonstrated that promised of reimbursement are not guaranteed.

Further in the Executive Summary it is clearly stated that "some towns would be net cost winners and others net cost losers.”  Longmeadow is presented 8 cases.  In 5 Longmeadow is a net cost loser.  In the other three, a 400% 911 State Subsidy is presented to establish Longmeadow as a net cost winner.

The report does not recommend for Longmeadow a 5-town dispatch center.  The report is at best inconclusive as it recommends 4 options.
  • join a 5-town dispatch center
  • join a 4-town dispatch center
  • join a 3-town dispatch center
  • stay a single town dispatch center, and transition to all civilian 911 dispatchers
The three recommendations in bold have yet to be explored.

The report clearly states that "Ludlow has something extra to gain by joining a RECC" (page 12), and that "Hampden would gain the most from a cost savings perspective" (page 10).  With implementation of a 5-town dispatch center, the taxpaying residents of Longmeadow would be subsidizing the residents of those communities.

Clearly selectmen voting to move forward on this project would be doing so against both fiscal and common sense.  Implementing a 5-town RECC is a losing proposition in many ways.

First, the numbers in the report show that for the Town of Longmeadow the only way the Town is a net cost winner is if the State 911 subsidy rate is 400%.  Second, the town's leadership has failed to explore any of the three other recommendations of the report highlighted in bold above.  And finally, a project of this size should not be considered in isolation when the town has other projects to consider such as Public Works, Middle Schools, and the Senior Center.

I support regionalism, but not regionalism whereby our Town residents are clearly paying more, losing a town resource (the Senior Center), and recommended options have yet to be explored.

Respectfully,

Jeffrey Klotz, CPA, MBA
487 Converse Street

Friday, June 26, 2015

Greenwood on the Chopping Block

This opinion column was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz by Alex J. Grant, Longmeadow Select Board member.
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The proposed regional 911 call center (RECC) is a significant policy question that could cost Longmeadow millions of dollars.  It would also impact a number of other building projects that are being proposed or planned.  There are many uncertainties, but the real question is whether voters will have a chance to decide whether to take a step toward regionalization that is likely to have an impact on their taxes.  I believe voters and their elected representatives should decide that question.

The June 15 presentation to the Select Board by consultants engaged by the town of Longmeadow and four other towns (Ludlow, Wilbraham, Hampden, East Longmeadow) was an eye opener.  A few days later, Select Board members received the full 220 page report which had been finalized on May 26.  The headline for me and probably for most of the community was learning that Greenwood Center had been identified as the likely location for the center.  Indeed, the report states: “the existing school building is available for conversion for RECC operations.”

Residents should understand that at no point has the Select Board voted to make Greenwood available for the regional call center.  How the consultants came to understand that Greenwood is available for that purpose is unknown to me.  More ominously, the other two possibilities studied by the consultants, the Hampden and Wilbraham police stations, are virtually ruled out in the report.  Make no mistake, Greenwood is the target.

The report provides drawings that show that a wing of Greenwood would be renovated to displace what is now a gymnasium and a number of other spaces that support a large variety of recreational and community programs, like the afterschool program and summer camps.  The proposal is for construction to begin during the summer of 2016.  No plan has been presented for how the town would cope with the loss of such a significant part of Greenwood.  With space in town and school buildings already tight, it is hard to imagine how we could maintain the current town services unless new space is built.

Replacing the loss of the Greenwood space will no doubt be expensive, and it is not even clear where we could build if we had the money.  Of all the five towns, space constraints are surely the most acute in Longmeadow, which has very little land for development.  Even assuming the 911 center could be paid entirely through state grants, Longmeadow would be left to its own resources to pay the upfront costs to replace the lost Greenwood space.

The cost of the regional call center at Greenwood is projected to be $5.6 million.  The consultants made it clear, in response to one of my questions, that the state grants would not make all of those funds available at the outset of the project.  We would have to start tearing down the Greenwood space without a guarantee that the requisite grant funding would be made in the ensuing years to complete the project.  The consultants seemed bullish that the state would eventually provide all of construction and outfitting costs, but we would have to run that risk.  The consultants also made it clear that the state would not be in a position to pay any of the upfront costs to replace the lost Greenwood space.

As this debate goes forward, residents will likely hear much about possible cost savings of a regional call center.  The consultants made it clear that cost is not a reason to choose this path.  In their presentation, they conceded: the RECC “may not result in any major or any cost saving, depending on town and RECC configuration.”  Instead, they maintained that the RECC would result in more professional and effective dispatching services.  For this reason, regionalization is worth careful consideration.

Whatever the relative advantages of a regional call center are, there can be no doubt that tearing down an entire wing of Greenwood will impact a great number of residents through the loss of important services or through higher taxes to pay for new space or a new building.  As the proposed host of this regional call center, Longmeadow faces a myriad of complicated and expensive issues that the other towns will not face.  It is noteworthy that both Wilbraham and Hampden are going to be building new police stations, and it appears there is no appetite to incorporate the regional call center into either facility.

I believe that such a significant pocketbook issue should be decided by voters at Town Meeting.  In addition, this issue must be part of an overall plan that addresses the services provided at Greenwood, the potential senior center renovation or replacement, and other projects that are in the pipeline.  To look at the RECC in isolation would be a costly mistake.  Before we take the first step in this process, we need to know the impact and all of the costs of putting the center at Greenwood since that outcome appears so likely.  Residents need to make their voices heard to the Town Manager and to the Select Board.  The Greenwood gym hosted the Wounded Warrior post-race lunch that served hundreds of people from the community.  Events and services like this are worth keeping.

Alex J. Grant
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Alex J. Grant is a member of the Longmeadow Select Board. 
His email address is agrant@longmeadow.org.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Brewer Young Mansion, Part II

The following article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.
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Fifty-Five years ago, Mary Ida Young passed away.  She died at home , located at 734 Longmeadow Street at the age of 95.  In 1959 she had fallen and was recuperating in her residence for a year or so. Although married four times, it was her second husband who had the Young name, which she retained after her last mate died. I bet she is rolling over in her grave these days. I hate to think of her watching from the clouds as her beautiful mansion falls apart. So much for heavenly rest.

The colonial revival Victorian masterpiece, built in 1884, is deteriorating before our eyes.  Looking sadder and more lonely each day, our town leaders are trying to resolve the situation.  Who can we contact? The National Trust for Historic Preservation or the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities should come here and save this mansion, but even our local Longmeadow Historic District seems unable to take action in a complicated legal situation involving foreclosure.  Now owned by a bank, we hope and pray for an angel to restore the home to its former grandeur and glory. This significant local architectural wonder was recently featured in an article in the Springfield Republican. People are taking interest and it’s a topic of conversation in town.

The Wood Museum of Springfield History is a special repository of historic documents and images.  At the Longmeadow Historical Society’s booth during the Long Meddowe Days weekend celebration, I first gazed at some impressive images displayed of the Young House. Some of the photographs are illustrated here, showing the grounds and interior.




Mary Ida lived there from 1922 to 1960 as wife of the inventor of Absorbine Jr.  The liniment was initially created for horses, and she was a horse lover. She had a racetrack behind her home in the meadows near the river in the area now home to the Interstate I-91.  The event grounds and house provided an elegant backdrop for fundraisers, parties, benefits and various special gatherings. Her obituary describes teas, dances and bridge parties occurring at her home over the years.  As a gardener she tended to orchids in her greenhouse and also owned many animals. In addition to her horses, at various times she owned deer, raccoons, peacocks, geese, swans, doves, turkeys, chicken, pheasants, dogs and sheep. She helped establish the first Republican Club in Springfield and attended Springfield’s Trinity Methodist Church each Sunday driven in a horse drawn carriage.

After her death, her grandson and his wife and family moved into the imposing residence despite concerns that the estate might be sub-divided into a development.  The traffic had lessened at this point in time because the meadows was now bisected by the new highway. Cars and trucks no longer needed to come directly through town, enroute to Springfield and the north-south corridor.

The condition of this historic structure is of great concern, especially after such a bitterly cold winter.  Many older homes need special upkeep and caring for them could make them less desirable to potential buyers who lack vision.  It takes a special person, with an appreciation of history, to responsibly restore and renovate such a home.  Let’s hope it‘s not too late for the Young house.  The place is a gem, and its central location on the town green makes it a prominent landmark for future generations…if it lasts!

 submitted by Betsy Huber Port

Regionalization of Emergency Response Center

The following LTE was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Jeffrey Klotz/ Longmeadow
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During my unsuccessful campaign for Selectman, one of my central tenants was utilizing regionalization to save money.  At the June 15th Selectboard meeting, the new Board was presented one such effort, namely a proposed Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC).  The purpose of the RECC is enable the member Towns to field their own cellular 911 calls, something I feel all can agree is needed as in a true emergency, seconds can be the difference between life and death.  The consultants asked to examine the issue, The Carell Group, identified the Greenwood Center as the best option for this project as it was most suitable to renovations.

As always, where an improvement is wanted, there is a cost.  And in this case, the cost has three components.  First, there is the financial cost projected to be $3.3 million in hard costs for the renovation of the proposed site, and an additional $2.4 million in soft costs.  Second, to residents of Longmeadow, there is the opportunity costs associated with the loss of the current use of the Greenwood Center.  And thirdly, there will be the costs of relocating the services currently provided within the Greenwood Center affecting both young and old in our community.

There are many unknowns regarding this project including (1) the number of communities who will join, and hence share the financial burden, and (2) whether the State can be relied upon to financially hold up to its promises (as it has not done so on the LHS project), and (3) the uncertainty of the long-term costs.

I am a big fan of regionalism.  I am a big fan of public safety.  But I am not a big fan of supporting projects that have not been thought out completely.  The funding is questionable, and there are no publicly available solutions as to what happens to the programs currently housed within the Greenwood Center.  With our Town's revenue approaching the legal upper mil rate limit, and with the community contemplating major overhauls for both our middle schools, public works, and seniors, this is not the time for our Selectman to support such a project.

I encourage our Selectboard to review the report from the Carell Group and explore the merits of the second and third place locations.

Sincerely

Jeffrey Klotz, CPA, MBA
487 Converse Street, Longmeaodow

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Richard Foster wants your vote on Tuesday

The following is from Richard Foster, candidate for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board.
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Shortly you will go to the polls to once again elect those you wish to provide executive leadership for our community. While I realize many of you may not be directly involved with the governance of your community, you do, however, control who is chosen to represent your interest. You deserve people who consistently demonstrate leadership qualities that clearly represent the highest priority needs of our entire community. We need select board members that clearly demonstrate professionalism, not only in representing you, but also in how they deal with other board members and senior managers in our community.

Your select board needs to demonstrate fiscal leadership by looking into the future and applying some common logic towards where we are headed. Longmeadow’s future requires a select board that recognizes the fiscal challenges and supports the expertise and forward thinking displayed by our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Paul Pasterczyk, Town Manager Stephen Crane, Planning Board Member Walter Gunn, and the Director of the Pioneer Planning Commission Tim Brennan in our recent tax rate forum. All of these professionals realize we need to start working now to alter our future financial picture.

One of your select board members in the May 21-27 Reminder boasted that he “believes he brings fiscal leadership to the board.” This was the same select board member who went on to mock a recent forum on our tax rate as being akin to the “Chicken Little mentality where the sky is going to fall.” These statements are made by a person who has served you for nine years on the Select Board, one year on the School Committee, and two years on the Finance Committee. All these years he participated in increasing your taxes by the full amount allowed by law to our current point where we have the highest tax rate of any community across the Commonwealth, while the infrastructure needs of our community continued to be ignored.

I need your help in supporting a new direction to maintain the quality of life in Longmeadow and ensure its future.

Tom Lachiusa is running for the select board this year and is gaining support across our community as a voice of change. Tom is committed to building a better relationship between the select board and the Town Manager. Tom realizes the importance of this relationship and is committed to letting the Town Manager manage our town as directed by the Charter and to having the Select Board start providing executive leadership through the development of fiscal and operational policies. I support Tom in his bid to become a select board member for Longmeadow.

We need to elect individuals who truly demonstrate the leadership required for our future.

As a community, we can’t afford another three years political pandering; the time for leadership is now.

The choice is yours; status quo or electing a team that will Drive Change in the Right Direction.

Please Vote Foster and Lachiusa this year as your representatives on the Select Board.

Thank you for your vote.

Richard Foster, Chair, Longmeadow Select Board

Lachiusa wants your vote for Select Board

The following was submitted by Tom Lachiusa who is running for election to the Longmeadow Select Board.
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As voters make their voting decision on the Select Board candidates, I ask you to consider my request for your vote.  

Having been a homeowner in Longmeadow for 16 years, and a small business owner in town for 19 years, I offer the perspective of an average taxpayer.  My wife Jeanne and I have raised four children and understand the struggles of young families and the concerns of individuals who are, or will soon, be living on a fixed retirement income.  These perspectives, combined with my track record of successfully resolving group conflicts, providing leadership during a period of transition at a local college, and bridging political divides are the reasons why I want to be your next selectman.

I believe the first and most important question facing our town is: Will the Select Board be able to follow the town charter and work cooperatively with the Town Manager?

My first priority is to support the charter and improve the relationship between the board and the Town Manager, Finance and School Committees. Many have commented to me that the board is not serving the town effectively due to infighting and selfish political grandstanding. I have listened to residents who expressed that they do not see how the board can serve the best interests of our town without a change in its membership. As a teacher, I have taught graduate classes on group work process and I have been finding solutions to group conflict for over 40 years in various positions including currently at the Hampden County Jail and in my own private practice. I will use the skills I have acquired from a career in teaching and social work to make our town government more efficient and responsive.

What I offer is the experience of a seasoned professional who has academic and professional training that will guide my decision making during times of difficulty and transition. While I was a faculty member at Springfield College, I was elected by my peers to serve on the Vision Committee that would help guide the school in its search for a new college president. After my election to this committee, the interim president appointed me to be his co-chair because he saw my commitment to the school and what I could contribute to the project. Under our guidance, the committee was able to develop a vision for the future of the college, and therefore, the job description for the person who would lead that effort. Through exhaustive research at the departmental level, we were able to examine the goals of each area of the college and merge them into a unified vision of the future of the college. From this vision, we were able to choose a president that led the college in the direction that fit with the needs of the community. I have no doubt that I will have success using similar methods to lead our town toward a better tomorrow.

Town elections are non-partisan in nature, however, since I have announced my candidacy, I have been able to build bridges between the Republican, Independent, and Democratic factions in town. The support I have garnered from leaders from all parts of the political spectrum in Longmeadow is a clear sign that, even in our current time of hyper-partisanship, there is a common belief in the need for a change in the membership of the Select Board.  Please vote for me on Tuesday June 9th.

Tom Lachiusa/ Candidate for Longmeadow Select Board

What makes a school system exceptional?

The following was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Russ Dupere, candidate for election to the Longmeadow School Committee.
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What makes a school system exceptional? In my experience as a school attorney and parent, the exceptional school systems share many of the following characteristics:
  1. Leadership that creates clear short and long-term goals with input from the staff and community.
  2.  Administrators that inspire their staff to work toward meeting these goals.
  3. Consistent curriculum which is aligned throughout all schools K-12.
  4. A school climate wherein administrators, teachers, staff, and parents feel respected and valued.
  5. Teachers are provided with the time, technology, and resources necessary to provide the best education possible.
  6. Making it a priority that ALL students are treated equally and with compassion.
  7. Decisions are made in a transparent and open manner.
  8. Stakeholders' opinions are treated with respect, and are given due consideration.
  9. An atmosphere of trust and collaboration, wherein teachers and other members of the school community can provide input and recommendations for improvement.
  10. The School Committee and Board of Selectmen have an open line of communication, and work collaboratively.
  11. A community that supports education both financially and through volunteerism.
I am committed to making sure that these characteristics are present in our school system. We have an exceptional school system, and I believe we have the ability to make it an even better one.

Please vote on June 9th.
Russ Dupere (www.facebook.com/dupereforcommittee)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meet the School Commitee Candidates

Next Tuesday, June 9 is the Longmeadow Annual Town Elections.  Polling hours are from 8 am - 8 pm at the Longmeadow Community House.


Longmeadow Community Television (LCTV) has created a series of interviews of the three candidates running for the two open seats on the Longmeadow School Committee.  These one-on-one interviews hosted by Arlene Miller provide profiles of one new candidate who has not run previously for elected office in our town as well as the two incumbent candidates.

Below are 30 minute video clips of these interviews.  In alphabetical order...

Russell Dupere



Katie Girard



Michelle Grodsky


Katie Girard- Candidate for Re-election to the School Committee

The following was submitted by Katie Girard who is running for re-election to the Longmeadow School Committee.
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I am running for re election because I feel that my work on the School Committee is far from finished.

My goals for the School Committee are driven by keeping our eyes on the child. As we approach the end of this strategic plan, I look forward to shaping the next one by being an active partner in its development to broaden the educational opportunities for our students, give students choice and voice in their educations so that they may find and nurture their unique passions.


We need greater collaboration between our schools and the greater Longmeadow community. People of all ages support the of  mission the school committee and we must ensure we support them. In my next term I want to champion collaboration with everyone in our community-- not just the ones who have children in school. That's why I'm working to establish more collaboration between the schools and the community by creating more opportunities for partnerships not only between boards, but with our senior community, Longmeadow Transitions, and the Historical Society just to name a few.

We have a responsibility to our students and to members of the community to be fiscally responsible while providing an excellent education to all students. While my central focus is the student, this does not mean that I have tunnel vision.

Finally, I want to continue to ensure all students receive exceptional educations.

As W.E.B. DuBios said, “Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled and fought for 5,000 years, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental... The freedom to learn... has been bought by bitter sacrifice. We must insist upon this to give our children the fairness of a start which will equip them with such an array of facts and such an attitude toward truth that they can have a real chance to judge what the world is and what its greater minds have thought it might be.”


Meet the Select Board Candidates

Next Tuesday, June 9 is the Longmeadow Annual Town Elections.  Polling hours are from 8 am - 8 pm at the Longmeadow Community House.

Longmeadow Community Television (LCTV) has created a series of interviews of the four candidates running for the two open seats on the Longmeadow Select Board.  These one-on-one interviews hosted by Arlene Miller provide profiles of the two new candidates who have not run previously for elected office in our town as well as the two incumbent candidates.

Below are the 30 minute video clips of these interviews.  In alphabetical order...

Richard Foster



Jeffrey Klotz



Tom Lachuisa



Paul Santaniello

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Paul Santaniello- Candidate for Re-Election

The following LTE was submitted by Paul Santaniello- candidate for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board.
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I am happy to announce my candidacy for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board.  I would like to thank the residents for their continued confidence in me.  I would also like to thank my family, my wife Dorothy, and children Gia, Nina, and Joey, for their understanding of late night meetings and my belief, that to be on the Select Board is a full time commitment and requires more than an every other week meeting.

While there has been a lot accomplished during my time on the Select Board, I believe there is more that can be done.  This year for example, after attending the Massachusetts Municipal Conference, I brought back the idea of leasing large capital equipment for our DPW, when it makes sense versus buying.  We will be leasing one of our largest dump trucks which will save the Town $144,000 in the next Fiscal Year.

A year ago, the Town of Longmeadow went to arbitration with MGM over the negative impacts to our community and we won our case.  Under the direction of the Select Board, we fought together to protect our town from what we knew were the negative impacts to Longmeadow.  We stood firm when other towns were settling for less than their citizens deserved.  I believe we did what was best for Longmeadow.

At an upcoming Select Board meeting, the Finance Subcommittee, which I am a member of, will be recommending a Capital Spending Plan that will allow the Town to address our capital needs and also plan for larger projects to be developed in a more predictable and practical manner.

I voted for property tax relief for homeowners this year.  I will continue to fight to control unnecessary spending and strive to keep owning a home and living in Longmeadow, an affordable option for all residents, especially seniors on fixed income.

We are in discussions currently to potentially purchase our street lights which could result in the Town saving substantial amounts of money going forward.  This will help alleviate the pressure on rising costs in Town.  This would not have happened without the persistence of the Select Board.

I, we, are all blessed to live in such a wonderful community.  I don’t believe in the “Chicken Little” mentality that the sky is falling on Longmeadow.  I do believe however, that the Select Board should look at every opportunity to reduce costs and increase income from non-tax based options.  One goal if re-elected is to seek out these opportunities in a more aggressive manner.

 I moved to Longmeadow over twenty eight years ago because I wanted to live in this great community, to raise my family here, and contribute to the ideal that Longmeadow is, for all of us.   My perspective on the Select Board is that we need to preserve that quality of life, enhance it where we can, and do our best to ensure our residents can afford to stay here in retirement if they choose.

In those twenty eight years, I’ve been blessed to have coached youth football, soccer (boys and girls), baseball, and basketball.  I have been a past President of the Center School PTO and LHS PAC, a member of the Center School Council, and former member of the School Committee and Finance Committee.  I continue to attend other Boards and Committee meetings regularly so I can better understand the issues before them.

I work for you, and I have never forgotten that, nor take it for granted,

I humbly ask for your vote for re-election on June 9th.

Experience does matter.

Paul Santaniello

Jeffrey Klotz- Candidate for Select Board

 The following LTE was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Jeffrey Klotz- a candidate for Longmeadow Select Board.
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Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me, Jeffrey Klotz

As a relative new comer to Longmeadow, the question I most often get asked is “Why do you feel that you are qualified to serve on the Town’s Selectboard?”  So let’s start there.

Shortly after moving to Town, to fill some of the time I have between obligations to my family as a stay at home dad, I sought out a volunteer opportunity with which I could help the Town leveraging both my education (I’m a Certified Public Accountant, with a Masters in Business Administration), and work experience (9 years at higher levels within a municipal government with a $2+ billion dollar operating budget).  There was an opening on the Town’s Audit Committee.  I interviewed, was appointed, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work. 

Quickly I studied the Town’s prior financial statements, budgets, and governing laws.  I was surprised to learn many things.  First, it struck me as odd that the Town had employed for over 20 years the same auditor.  It is common after so many years to change auditors simply to obtain a fresh perspective on the activities of any Town.  Second, it struck me as odd that the School Committee and Administration acted to hire it’s own legal council to fight for operational independence against my interpretation of the Town Charter.  The School Committee and Administration currently controls over half of the Town’s budget, yet the Town’s Finance Director has no Human Resource or disciplinary authority with which to control spending, or internal controls, which has led to year after year of financial malfeasance by the School Administration.  This has clearly been reported by the Town’s auditors in the Town’s audit report.  Finally, I found it odd that the Select Board spends much of its public time arguing with the Town Manager over minutia. 

As a member of the Audit Committee I have argued for and made progress on points one and two.  Starting next year we start a new contract with a new auditor, and instead of the employing the same reports that have been used for the last twenty years, the Town is starting down a path of enhanced reporting that will bring easier digestion of key metrics with trends.  Secondly, as the Audit Committee has purview of internal controls, the Audit Committee will be specifically looking at the School System’s controls in detail both at operational, custodial, and budgetary levels.

I am proud of these achievements.  But as my wife and I have decided to make this our forever home, and we have two children yet to enter kindergarten, I’m not ready to rest on my laurels.  I believe the School System to be managerially top-heavy, and if elected, will pursue a course through the budget process that mandates the School System justify their salary and employee levels against regional peers.  It is my hope that these cost savings can contribute to the Town affording both full-day kindergarten and enhanced services for the developmentally challenged.

As I said above, I’m not one to rest on my laurels… 

I believe that our Town needs to expand it’s efforts toward regionalistic cost sharing.  There are assets in the Town that we need not own individually, and can share with other local municipalities, and services, such as educating the developmentally challenged mentioned above, where economies of scale should provide cost savings.

Additionally, I believe that our Recreation Department should no longer subsidize programs.  For many years in a row the Recreation Department’s management has failed to operate within budget.  Our Town’s recreation department programing should be fee-based, much like all the programming at our Town’s Senior Center.  If there is interest sufficient to support a program, let’s run it.  But if not, there are plenty of private firms providing the same services.

Our Town needs to expand our tax base.  I support exploring development of some of our athletic and park land, the implementation of a Semi-trailer permit to offset the damage they do to our roads going to and from the highway, and the implementation of fee-based short-term overnight permitted street parking (not during snow emergencies).

In this brief space, one can only say so much.  I implore you to look for and watch the LCTV candidate interviews which should start airing June 3rd on channel 12.  To learn more about me specifically, go to my website, www.jeffreyklotz.com.  There I have contact information, both online, and direct.

Our current Select Board spends too much time arguing with the Town Manager, and not enough time thinking critically about where we are, how we got here, and how we are going to fix this mess.  I ask you on June 9th to vote for me.  Mnemonically, my name can be remembered at the voting booth with the following tag line:  Vote for new blood.  Vote for Klotz.

I know, it's a bad pun on a potentially serious vascular condition, but it is easy to remember...

Thank you again for taking the time to visit this site and read this.  If I have earned your vote, please tell a friend about me.  And if you are not convinced and want further information, I can be reached at any of the following points of contact:

Cell phone:  413-564-9468
Email:  ejeffreyklotz@gmail.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeffgives

Jeffrey Klotz

Monday, June 1, 2015

Michelle Grodsky Runs for Re-election

The following information was submitted by Michelle Grodsky- a candidate for re-election to the Longmeadow School Committee on Tuesday, June 9.
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I would like to formally announce my campaign for re-election to the Longmeadow School Committee.  Throughout my current term, I have worked hard to ensure fairness, thoughtfulness, and transparency were part of every discussion, every process, and every decision.   I believe every parent and every child should have a voice in our decisions, and have used my position as a School Committee member to represent them when they are unable to speak themselves. 

I have been a part of many decisions this past year, and have always stressed the need for long-term planning and collaboration.  Longmeadow faces many fiscal decisions in the near future.  I believe our town’s elected officials and leaders need to work together to discuss these upcoming plans as a team so that we can move forward in a way that represents the best interests of everyone in our community.

Throughout my adult life, I have dedicated my professional and personal time to education.  I believe in the value, strength, and potential of the public school system.  Most importantly, I understand the complexity involved in making the right decisions for the entire student body and community at-large.  With an open-mind, I will continue to work hard to analyze the facts on all sides of an argument in order to see through emotion and make the best choices for everyone.

A LITTLE ABOUT ME

I have lived in Longmeadow for most of my life.  I attended three of our schools, was a varsity athlete, and worked for our Parks and Recreation Department.  I have a passion for our community and a strong devotion to the Longmeadow Public Schools.

Perhaps more importantly, I am a former educator with a Masters in Elementary Education, and a B.A. in Elementary Education and Economics.  As an educator, I creatively integrated mandates similar to The Common Core and PAARC testing, WITHOUT compromising the integrity of my curriculum and the needs of the students within my individual classroom.  It was a priority for me to achieve excellence and growth from every student, at every level in my classroom.  I will continue to use this background, my observations as a mother, and my recent experience on the School Committee to help ensure this for all students, teachers and parents in the Longmeadow Public Schools. 

I see my role as a School Committee member to be similar to that of a mother – the students are my children, the district is my family.  Every decision I make, I look to protect the best interests of the children and families of this community. 

So please spread the word...join me on June 9th...vote for the excellence and change that every child deserves. Our town deserves the best, our families deserve the best, and our children deserve the best.

Michelle Carrazza Grodsky for Longmeadow School Committee

NASW-MA Endorses Longmeadow Selectboard Candidate Tom Lachiusa


Tom Lachiusa- Candidate for SB
The National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts chapter announced on Thursday that they will be supporting Tom Lachiusa in his bid to become a Selectman in Longmeadow.

Citing his great track record as a social worker for over 20 years, the NASW-MA said that “Lachiusa’s skills as a mediator and a problem solver make him an ideal candidate for public office.” Lachiusa says he is “Excited about the endorsement” and looks forward to using the skills he has gained from his time as a counselor at the Hampden County Jail and his private counseling practice in Longmeadow to “Build alliances and improve the board’s ability to cooperate and solve the problems facing our town.”
 
Voters in Longmeadow will go to the polls June 9th for their annual town election.  

Lachiusa and Foster for Select Board




This Letter to the Editor was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog for publication.




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Dear Editor,

On June 9th Longmeadow will be deciding on which two people will be on the Select Board for the next three years. This is a very important election. This is a crucial year with our town manager’s contract coming up for renewal, the hiring of three new department heads and preparation for the casino project. We need a Select Board who will thoughtfully plan for this year and the future of our town. We cannot continue with business as usual. We can no longer afford a board that fights with each other, the town manager, and employees. We can no longer afford Select Board members that vote “yes”, “no”, and “abstain” on the same issue. We need effective leadership.

I am endorsing Tom Lachiusa and Richard Foster. They have the skills and experience we need. We need the best and the brightest for these upcoming challenges.

Sincerely,
Gerald Nolet

Republican Town Commitee Holds Candidate Forums

The following information was submitted by the Longmeadow Republican Town Committee
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The Longmeadow Republican Town Committee continued the candidate forums with the School Committee Candidates, Michelle Grodsky, Russ Dupere, and Katie Girard. Michelle and Katie are current members of the School Committee and this will be Russ’ first time on the School committee. Each of the candidates gave a short presentation and answered questions about budgeting, curriculum, and the future of the schools.

Michelle Grodsky emphasized her experience as a teacher especially in programs for high achieving students.  She described courses and curriculum she would like to see taught in the elementary schools. Another area of concern for Ms. Grodsky is the uniformity of curriculum across the district. She has seen progress in the area, but would like to see more. Michelle believes that working together with the Select Board is essential for successful budgeting in the future. Michelle stated; “I have worked hard to ensure fairness, thoughtfulness, and transparency were part of every discussion, every process and every decision. I believe every parent and every child should have a voice in our decisions and have used my position as a School Committee member to represent them when they are unable to speech for themselves.”

Russ Dupere discussed his experience as an educational attorney. He has worked with schools and school committees across the Commonwealth.  He believes his experience will be valuable to the School Committee because though we are one of the top rated school districts now it is easy to slip into providing a lower standard of education. He will help keep the schools on course.  Russ also described his experience with teachers’ unions would be valuable to future negotiations and communications with the teachers. If elected he stated he would work closely with the Select Board and other committees to develop long range fiscal plans.

Katie Girard is running on her experience on the School Committee and the fact that she is the only member of the School Committee who is actively teaching. Katie’s specialty is special education. She believes that Longmeadow’s special education program is a key component on what makes Longmeadow schools great schools. She would like to work in creating more collaboration between the schools and the community by creating more opportunities for partnerships. Katie stated; “I want to continue to ensure all students receive exceptional educations, regardless of what challenges they bring to the classroom."

The candidate forums ended with lively discussions on educational issues in our country and in our town.  All the candidates stayed after the meeting to answer questions.

The Longmeadow Republican Town Committee meets every second Wednesday of the month in Greenwood Center.  If you are interested in coming or more information contact Tass Angelides, tass1949@gmail.com.