Saturday, April 6, 2013

Renewing and Preserving the Town of Longmeadow

Longmeadow, like many towns across America, is facing an infrastructure crisis. Our roads and sidewalks are in disrepair. Our water and sewer lines are aged and in need of reconstruction.  Our recreation facilities are in need of modernization and expansion to meet current needs.

These deficiencies are a result of normal aging and deferring maintenance for years because of inadequate funding.  Although deferring maintenance is a common practice used for stretching funds, it always costs you more money when you defer maintenance.

Over the coming days and weeks I will post information on suggested steps to reverse our present course and improve our maintenance of the Town’s cultural, capital, and natural resources.

As this initiative moves forward I welcome public comments and suggestions. Through this partnership, I encourage a balanced approach as we continue to improve our quality of life for Longmeadow residents. 

Although I am a Select Board member, these are my personal views and observations and are not necessarily the opinion of the Longmeadow Select Board.  


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Keeping Longmeadow Great by Alex Grant

            I have thrown my hat into the ring.  I have written this column every two weeks for five and a half years, an experience which has surely earned me the disapproval on at least one occasion, and perhaps many more, of every reader of the Longmeadow News.  After all, one cannot please all the people all the time, and I have scarcely tried.  With that inauspicious beginning, I have gathered the necessary signatures and will be on the ballot for this Spring's Select Board election.

            I am running for the same reason my family moved here six years ago, because Longmeadow is a great place to live.  And it really wasn't about the schools.  My wife and I assumed the schools were pretty good, but then again, there are other towns where dedicated students with mindful parents can do just fine.  Our concerns were more basic.  We had lived on a street in Washington, DC where we could hear sirens blaring all night, where drug deals took place just a few doors down from our stoop, and where three shootings had occurred within one block during the last 12 months.  A young man had recently died on the corner from swallowing crack cocaine after the police had stopped him.

            We came to Longmeadow because the streets were safe, the town was a short distance from our jobs, and there were decent homes we could afford.  The leafy green avenues of Longmeadow looked picturesque, and with parks and conservation land and town pools, the town seemed like a perfect place to raise a family.  And at night, it was blissfully quiet.

            National magazines have rated our little suburb a top place for families and for retirees, and they were not wrong.  One can see the sense of community on the youth soccer fields, where there is overwhelming participation by kids, parents, and grandparents.  Greenwood is a microcosm of our town, with seniors rubbing elbows with preschoolers and all of the kids in the parks and recreation programs.  The countless volunteer hours expended by parent teacher organizations and at the Senior Center show that we believe in something larger than our individual selves.  Every year, I marvel at Longmeaddowe Days, which is nothing less than a rededication to our history and to our community.

            Our form of town government also makes Longmeadow great.  We have held on to an unadulterated, direct democracy that Longmeadowites of the 1700s would recognize.  Our charter makes the voters at Town Meeting, and no one else, the legislature of our town.  It is a testament to the notion that men and women are fit to govern themselves.

            The challenges facing Longmeadow are modest in comparison to those facing many towns and cities across America.  We are not tasked with constructing a sense of community where none exists.  We are not faced with the job of revitalizing a once great community ravaged by crime, de-population, and financial ruin.  There are towns wondering how to make themselves walkable, or pondering how to create green space, or fighting to control sprawl.  We need only to keep Longmeadow great.

            I start this campaign with an appeal to our hopes and aspirations, rather than a discussion of grievances and limitations.  Above all, I aim to open up our town democracy.  In recent years, town politics has been a conversation involving a fairly small number of people, that is, people who hold elected office, people who serve on committees, people who attend Town Meeting.  If Longmeadow is going to do great things in the future, if Longmeadow is to remain a place for all ages, our town politics has to engage a larger number of voters.

            Opening up town government requires elected officials to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it.  Watching a meandering, lengthy meeting on LCTV, if it is televised, is no substitute for a cogent explanation of the policy choices and the trade-offs that the Select Board makes.  A Select Board member, having taken the time to study the issues and having the relevant documents at hand, can distill the Board's decisions down to their essence.

            If elected, I will continue this column, and I will reach out in other ways.  If elected, I will know more about town government, and the voters will know more.  In the next couple of months, I will stake out my positions on the important issues facing the town, and I hope to debate the other candidates in this race in as many venues as possible.  I intend to make this campaign the most informative and substantive we have had in recent years.  Longmeadow deserves nothing less.

Alex J. Grant is a lawyer living in Longmeadow.  His email address is

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chef Extraordinaire- Allen Lefferts

Allen Lefferts is a man of many talents. Currently the chef at the Longmeadow Adult Center, his culinary talents are well known. He is an artist when he designs a plate of food and a gourmand when he plans the menu.

He adds flair to traditional favorites which draw crowds most days. Special meals sell out in the first few days of every month. On an average day, he produces over 100 meals for the dining room and the Meals on Wheels program. He is aided by two sous chefs and a team of volunteers who deliver meals to tables and to homes.

Allen moved to Springfield from New Jersey as a young child. He grew up in Forest Park, the youngest of five children. He attended high school at the Suffield Academy. He went to college at Keene State for almost a year, which he describes as the longest, best, most expensive party ever.

At loose ends, he was close to joining the military when a friend invited him to Long Island. There he found the work that he has done periodically ever since. A manager of 5 school cafeterias trained and hired Allen to run the cafeteria in an elementary school.

When he returned to this area, he became the Assistant Manager at Wilbraham Monson Academy where Paul Calberg was the Manager. (“Chef Paul” later worked at the Longmeadow Adult Center.)  In addition to schools, Allen managed employee cafeterias in several businesses. He spent 5 years managing the cafeteria at Spaulding Co. where he also accumulated a lot of golf balls.

Allen enjoys himself by composing classical music. Without formal training, he has learned to chart orchestral compositions which, he claims, only he likes. He also deals in antiques of the modern era, which is predominantly arts and crafts through mid-20th century. For eight years, he had an antique store on Bridge Street in Springfield until the Entertainment District drove up prices and drove away buyers.

Allen landed at the Adult Center on June 1, 2010. We are so lucky to have him.

[reprinted from The Voice of Longmeadow newsletter/ Longmeadow Adult Center, April 2013]