Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Rapidly Increasing Cost of Trash in Longmeadow

Mark Gold, Longmeadow Select Board member shares some background cost information about Longmeadow's trash program and the reasons for the implementation of the new standardized 35 gallon containers.


There’s been a lot of discussion about Longmeadow’s new trash containers, and I want to respond to those who are unhappy with the decision to implement these 35 gallon containers.  I hope you’ll come away from this with an understanding, if not agreement, that our growing costs of trash disposal was something that had to be implemented.


First, some background:  The cost of disposing of Longmeadow’s trash has three components:
  1. $650,000 per year to pick-up the trash at each of the 5500 residents in town and haul the trash to the disposal site.  We’re in the 2nd year of a five year contract with Waste Management services to provide these services.
  2. $293,000 (budgeted) to dispose of our trash.  We pay a different company $75 per ton to dispose of our trash.  This contract is based on competitive bidding, and the current contract was awarded to a company who hauls our trash out of the area for landfill.   The cost of disposal has increased over 33% in the past three years (it was $220,000 in 2017).  These costs are variable, in that the more we have to dispose, the more we pay, and the less we dispose, the less we pay.
  3. The balance of the $1,188,431 Sanitation / Recycling budget for 2020 consists of staff and direct costs associated with running the program, running the recycling center, paying for disposal of yard (and leaf) waste, and other expenses.  In general, these costs are not impacted by the amount of trash we generate.
The sanitation budget also has revenue of $ 285,000 from dumping fees, bag sales, and the sale of recycling goods (both curb-side and bulk recycling from the recycling center).  Actual curb-side recycling brings in about 10% of this total.  Although the curb-side recycling doesn’t result in a lot of income it does avoid the $75 per ton of disposal costs.  Despite what you might have read about the weakened global market for recycled goods, in Longmeadow, recycling still pays.

The information presented above is to provide background to the trash container decision. The 33% (over three years) increase in the cost of trash disposal is the highest increase of any component in the Town’s $65 million budget. Not only is the cost per pound of trash that we dispose of going up each year, but the total number of pounds of trash has also been increasing, and the amount of material we’ve been recycling has been decreasing.  Trash disposal quantities were up 5% in FY 2019 over FY 2108  (3598 tons vs. 3403 tons) and are up another 6% for the first three months of this year vs. the 2019 numbers.  At the same time, recycling quantities are down.  Paper and cardboard recycling is down 10 tons in 2018 compared to 2017 and glass/plastic recycling was down 2% in 2018 vs. 2017 and another 4% in 2019.

Our recycling commission identified that there are numerous town residents that have been routinely exceeding the 35-gallon weekly disposal cap that has been in place for over 10 years.  There were several alternatives considered to bring our trash disposal costs into compliance with existing by-law limitations.  Most of the alternatives had a “trash enforcement” patrol in one form or another, and that just isn’t practical.  Our trash haulers haven’t the time to be the enforcement group and it’s not appropriate for the police to be enforcing trash regulations.  So, in order to address the rising cost of trash disposal, the recycling commission proposed the town pursue a State of Massachusetts grants to underwrite the cost of purchasing uniform trash containers for all residents.  That grant required the contaners be 35 gallons in size.  It’s the wave of the future.  These 35-gallon containers will simultaneously limit the amount of trash that is disposed and encourage increased recycling.

One complaint I heard is that Springfield residents get a 55-gallon container.  But Springfield residents also get charged a $90 per year supplemental trash fee.  As a Select Board member, I felt it was more equitable to provide a uniform 35-gallon container to every household than impose a trash fee on everyone in town.  $90 per year will buy a lot of supplemental blue bags for those who dispose more than 35-gallons of trash in a week.

So I ask that you give the new containers a try.  The regulations on disposal haven’t changed, we’re just making it difficult for households to exceed that 35-gallon per week limit.  We’re going to be evaluating the impact of these on our disposal costs and recycling tonnage.  Based on the implementation of uniform containers in other communities, we expect this to provide the cost control for this part of our budget that’s essential for every line item.

Mark Gold, Longmeadow Select Board

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Request to Support Congressional Action against Gas Pipeline

This post was submitted by Michele Marantz, Chair- Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group who is looking for support by town residents regarding opposition to the Gas Pipeline + Metering Station in Longmeadow.


Dear LPAG Members:

Recently several LPAG members met with Congressman Neal in his State Street office  to ask him for help in blocking the Longmeadow meter station.  In response, Congressman Neal generously offered to intervene with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) on behalf of the Town of Longmeadow, informing FERC that the site for the meter station is ill-advised.

In order to intervene effectively, Congressman Neal requested that we send him a statement of opposition from the Longmeadow Select Board.  In this regard, we have recently learned that the Select Board will be voting on a statement of opposition this Monday.

Here's where you come in:  Over the week-end and during the day on Monday, please call or email 1, 2, or all 3 of the following Select Board members, telling them that you would like them to approve a statement of opposition to the project.  (The other two members, Marc Strange and Mark Gold, are already on record as being opposed.)

Marie Angelides                mangelides@longmeadow.org
Richard Foster                     rfoster@longmeadow.org
Tom Lachiusa                     tlachiusa@longmeadow.org

(If calling on Monday, call the Select Board Secretary at 413  565-4110.)

Here's what I'm going to write.  Feel free to send the same message or add your own thoughts:

Dear __________________,

I'm a Longmeadow voter who has learned that this Monday, October 21, the Select Board intends to vote on a statement of opposition to the proposed Longmeadow metering station/pipeline project.

I'm writing to request that you vote "yes" on this statement of opposition to ensure our town's future and protect the health and safety of our residents.

Please make sure to do this!  All of our state and federal legislators rely on a statement of opposition from our local governing board in order to effectively intervene in this matter.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Michele Marantz, Chair
Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group

Monday, September 2, 2019

Letter to the Editor- Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group

This LTE was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Michele Marantz, Chair, Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group....

On behalf of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group, I’d like to thank the 259 registered voters who attended the August 20th Special Town Meeting to cast a near-unanimous vote (3 dissensions) banning the construction of any industrial gas facility in a Longmeadow residential zone.

By voting to ban such a facility, the voters also expressed their opposition to the attachment of a high-pressure 200 psi pipeline that would transport gas north through densely populated neighborhoods into a Springfield residential area.

We would also like to publicly thank the Longmeadow Planning Board whose members have consistently listened to our concerns over the past six months—and have responded to those concerns. 

The Planning Board’s belief that “…these facilities have no business being located in, or adjacent to, residential neighborhoods, close to schools and playgrounds” mirrors our position regarding the health, safety, and economic risks associated with needless pipeline expansion.

We’re grateful that our Planning Board members understand their mandate to protect Longmeadow and are willing to take a public stand toward retaining the residential integrity of our community.

Michele Marantz, Chair
Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group
Longmeadow  01106

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Vote YES on Article #1 at Tonight's Special Town Meeting

When I first heard of the proposed gas metering station on Longmeadow Country Club I did not pay much attention- in fact I did not know exactly where it was located.  As the project progressed I felt that I needed to learn more about the location and its proximity to my home.  So I consulted the Town’s online official GIS (Geographic Information System) which provides town residents with lots of information.

Figure 1: Proposed Columbia Gas Metering Station

Figure 2: Impacted Area- One Mile Radius
I learned the following:
  1. My home is located only ¾ mile from the proposed facility.
  2. A 1 mile radius of the proposed facility includes
    (east-west) from Frank Smith Road to almost Route 91
    (north-south) from Williams Street into Enfield CT
  3. There are 500+ homes (not counting the large number in Enfield, CT within this one mile radius of the proposed gas metering station.
  4. There are 4 schools (Wolf Swamp ES, Glenbrook MS, Center ES and Willie Ross School within this 1 mile radius.
  5. There is 1 school- (Wolf Swamp Road ES) within 1500’ of the proposed facility.
  6. There are 20 homes within 500 feet of the proposed facility.
  7. There are 5 homes within 200 feet of the proposed facility.
  8. There is 1 school (WSR) with 1500 feet of the proposed facility
This Columbia Gas metering station is a commercial industrial facility which should not be allowed in a residential zoned area of town.

I am in support of the proposed new bylaw and urge my fellow residents to vote YES on Article #1 at tonight's Special Town Meeting at Longmeadow High School.

Jim Moran
48 Avondale Road

Monday, August 12, 2019

Newsletter from the Select Board Chair- 8-12-19

This semi-monthly newsletter was submitted by Marie Angelides, current Chair, Longmeadow Select Board in an effort to provide better communications with town residents.

On August 20th at 7:00 in the high school gym,  Longmeadow will have a special town meeting. The Select Board received a citizen’s petition for special town meeting to present a new zoning by law to prohibit the building of utility facilities in a residential zone and to tie the by law passed in the spring town meeting to the Longmeadow’s  existing by laws. The spring citizen’s  by law required monitoring and testing around any facilities built in residential zones. These by laws are written by and presented by citizens. They do not go into effect until they are approved by the Attorney General’s municipal unit. The May by law is still being reviewed by the Attorney General’s office. Zoning by laws will become effective as of the date of the town vote if approved by the AG’s office. Another article on the Special town meeting warrant involves funding of the lowering of the speed bump on Williams Street pedestrian crossing. In the past six months the cost has doubled to implement changes. The town will decide whether to appropriate the funds to lower the elevation of the speed bump.

Longmeadow town residents can go to NEDT at 190 East Main St in Westfield to dispose of hazardous materials. We are no longer participating in the program in Wilbraham. You will need proof of residency and cannot be a business. Go to www.longmeadow.org for hours and acceptable materials.

The plastic bag ban is in effect. Be sure to bring your shopping bags to any stores in Longmeadow.

The Select Board is working with the Department Heads, a legal team, and  an expert to assess the issues and authorities surrounding the building of a Metering Station at the Longmeadow Country Club.

The Search committee is reviewing applications and will be interviewing right after Labor Day. We hope to begin the Select Board interviews by the end of September. Jay Moynihan is our interim town manager. He is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

The DPW and the Adult Center have begun the pouring of the foundations. The DPW project was substantially delayed due to a serious asbestos problem. We have been working with the DEP and the remediation of the problem is almost complete. This is the reason the projects are almost on the same time schedule. The remediation was an expensive project, but doing it correctly was necessary to correct a hazardous condition in our town.

You should file your complaints and concerns online. A record is kept of when the call came in and when the issue is resolved. The data collected on what complaints are received and when they are resolved  is reported to the Department Head, the Town Manager, and the Select Board. It is also the best way to assess if there is a growing problem in an area. Go to https://yourgov.cartegraph.com. Register and file the complaint. The whole process should take less than 5 minutes. You will receive confirmation emails that track the progress of the response. If you have difficulties with the program you can ask for assistance at the Adult Center or Library. If you have a problem with a tree be sure to include your phone number and the location of the tree.

MAPLE ROAD SHOP- at Greenwood Center on Maple Road
Sale!! 50% off all items except for greeting cards on September 20th. Open every weekday 9 to 3. You can find amazing bargains on household items, clothing, and greeting cards. Proceeds to support the Adult Center programming.

Longmeadow Shops: Tuesdays 1-7 Batch Ice Cream Truck/ Thursdays 12-6 Farmers Market
Marie Angelides, Chair, Longmeadow Select Board

Friday, August 9, 2019

Impact of Proposed Metering Station on Longmeadow Health/ Safety

Michele Marantz

This LongmeadowBuzz post was submitted by Michele Marantz, chair of the Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group.  This post is an effort to share information with town residents about the potential impact on health and safety of the proposed natural gas metering station that will be constructed in Longmeadow.

Someone once said that “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Because there is truth to that statement, here are two videos for those who are uncertain about the nature of emissions spewing from compressor and meter stations.  Please take a few minutes to view these FLIR videos shown below of the Agawam compressor station and the West Roxbury meter station (included because that station is the same kind of infrastructure intended for Longmeadow.)

Note: The FLIR Gas Detection cameras are infrared cameras which are able to visualize gas by utilizing the gas physics. The camera produces a full picture of the scanned area and leaks appear as smoke on the camera’s viewfinder or LCD, allowing the user to see fugitive gas emissions.  

Both stations emit methane, a colorless and odorless gas that that is 64 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere.  In addition, because what we call “natural” gas now contains significant amounts of fracked gas, current gas emissions include contaminants like benzene, formaldehyde, lead, mercury radon, and nitrous oxide, pollutants linked with problems like asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease.

On a local level, emissions from the Agawam compressor and the proposed Longmeadow meter stations will be trapped over our area any time there is a temperature inversion or low pressure system, inevitably contributing to the recognized poor quality of our air.

Finally, when you look at the videos, you’ll see a white center amid cloud-like portions that are the polluting emissions.  To those who want to dismiss the plumes as mere heat emissions, note that when the camera moves toward the right, it registers the ambient temperature as 28 degrees.  As the camera moves to the left toward the white portions, the camera still registers the air temperature as 28 degrees.  What you are witnessing with the “plumes” is, in fact, the station’s hydrocarbon footprint.

FLIR- West Roxbury Metering Station

FLIR- Agawam Compressor Station

Our thanks to No Fracked Gas in Mass for their help in providing this information and in interpreting the videos.

Michele Marantz/ Chair- Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tuesday is Longmeadow's Annual Town Elections

This LongmeadowBuzz post was created by Jim Moran.....

Annual Town Elections- Tuesday, June 11.
Polling hours at the Longmeadow Community House are 8 am - 8 pm.

There are contested races for both Select Board and School Committee in Tuesday's annual town election.  There are also two important ballot questions. This is an important election that will influence the future of Longmeadow.

Make sure that you take the time to vote on Tuesday.

Select Board Elections

The Select Board race has two incumbents (Mark Gold + Bill Low) and two newcomers (Jeffrey Mueller + Marc Strange) vying for the two open seats. This election is particularly important since our Town Manager Stephen Crane has submitted his resignation and be leaving in mid-August.  Based on past experience the Town could be without the services of an experienced permanent town manager for up to 6 months.

Mark Gold is the most qualified candidate with 10 years of active leadership on the Select Board + 10 additional years as a member and chairman of the town's Capital Planning committee.  His engineering degree and work history as well as analytical thinking and financial know-how serve him well and will be extremely important as the town tackles the gas pipeline issue, expected difficulties with Proposition 2½ levy limits as well as other issues that are likely to occur.

As someone who has watched many Select Board meetings over the past 10 years I have always found Mark to be the most prepared member of the board.  He is not afraid to spend significant personal time outside of board meetings to research an issue or situation so that he can bring solutions and a path forward to the Select Board for consideration. He is stand-up individual and will listen to your concerns and will always take the time to answer your questions.

For the second seat on the Select Board, Marc Strange appears to be the next best qualified candidate with relevant municipal experience as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the Town of Agawam, MA.

School Committee Elections
    4 candidates vying for 3- 1 year seats
    Gianna Allentuck, William Mitchell, Kevin Shea and Armand Wray
    (James Ryan is also running as a write-in candidate.)
    3 candidates vying for 2- 3 year seats
    Susan Bell, Jamie Hench and Kevin Ryczek

With all of the events including five resignations that have taken place during the past year, voters may be confused with the 5 open seats on the School Committee.  As someone who has followed all of the turmoil, I can say without any reservations that the town residents who stepped up for appointments to fill the resignations (Wray, Allentuck, Shea, Bell and Hench) are outstanding candidates (see highlighted names) and should be elected to the Longmeadow School Committee.

Ballot Questions
Question #1
Shall the Town of Longmeadow be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition 2½ so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issue in order to make improvement to the Wolf Swamp fields and parking area?
Vote YES

Question #2 (Non-binding)
Shall the Town of Longmeadow consider exercising its rights under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 61B for the first right of refusal relative to Tennessee Gas Pipeline's agreement to purchase an easement over four parcels of land currently zoned for recreational use,  The pursuit of 61B rights will not guarantee the use of the land for open space.
Vote YES

As many of you may know I have been following and commenting on Longmeadow issues related to our schools and to our town government through the LongmeadowBuzz blog for over 10 years.  I have watched many Select Board and School Committee meetings and attended numerous public forums and other town meetings as well.  I have done this in order to provide the average town resident updates of what is happening in our town.



Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gianna Allentuck, Announces Candidacy for June Election

This announcement was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Gianna Allentuck- candidate for Longmeadow School Commitee.

Newly appointed Longmeadow School Committee Member, Educator, and Community Advocate, Gianna (Pedace) Allentuck, announced her candidacy for Longmeadow School Committee and will appear on the June 11, 2019 election ballot.


“As a newly appointed member of the School Committee, I am motivated by serving our students, schools, and community with positive and purposeful leadership; and am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from insightful and impassioned students, families, educators, administrators, and citizens - along with knowledgeable and dedicated Committee colleagues - in considering and resolving issues, and in recognizing and celebrating successes,” said Allentuck.

In her bid for one of the three available one-year terms, Allentuck emphasizes her belief that education is the foundation for life; and shared her vision for her work on the School Committee with three key objectives:

“I am focused on fostering positivity, connectivity and productivity; supporting collaboration, communication and evidence-based decision-making; and engaging with residents regarding how the work of the Committee supports our town – and especially our children.”

Allentuck also expressed: “Longmeadow residents deserve a School Committee that considers and responds to the voice of the people by deliberating and making fact-based decisions in the best interest of the community.  As an active school leader, respected team member, and experienced school counselor, I strive for this balance daily in dealing with complex issues and situations - often involving differing perspectives and a need for compromise in effecting resolution.”

During the interview process for appointment to the School Committee, Allentuck submitted several letters of refere nce from friends, neighbors, and local educational, civic, and community leaders who describe her as a loving parent; humble, positive, encouraging, reflective; serious thought to questions and matters before her; courageous advocate for children; keen listener; willingness to function as a member of a team; definition of engaged citizen and educator; dedicated professional [with an] amazing ability to drive results; informed and experienced voice to the discussions and decision-making process; and at the heart of it all is Gianna’s dedication to doing what is right for Longmeadow.

With her School Committee service and professional and personal experience in mind, Allentuck assured, “I am confident that I have the skills necessary to further School Committee efforts in helping Longmeadow Public Schools build upon our foundation of excellence…”

About Gianna (Pedace) Allentuck 
For twelve years, Gianna Allentuck has lived in Longmeadow with her husband Lee and two school-age children Sontino and Cecelia.  She is a parent and coach in Longmeadow; a leader and Adjustment Counselor for a Springfield public school; an active education advocate and community volunteer; and President of a local non-profit providing programs and activities for youth in Springfield.  As a School Committee Member, Gianna is the Williams Middle School representative, the Special Education Alliance of Longmeadow (SEAL) representative, and a member of the Policy Subcommittee.  In all her roles, Gianna is positive, collaborative, and dedicated to the advocacy of education and the service of others.

For further information on Gianna Allentuck, please contact her at gallentuck@aol.com  or check out her Facebook page Gianna Allentuck for Longmeadow School Committee.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Susan Bell- Candidate for Longmeadow School Committee

This post was submitted by Susan Bell- Candidate for Longmeadow School Committee- Candidate for the 3 year vacancy.

My interest in serving on the Longmeadow School Committee stems from my experience as a public school educator for the last 17 years, most recently serving as the Superintendent of the Windsor Locks Public Schools from 2014-2018. As a result of my governance experience serving the Windsor Locks Board of Education, I have a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities that a school board faces. It is my intent to collaborate with students, parents, community, district faculty and administration and school committee stakeholders to support the great work already happening in our schools. My focus on the school committee is to attend to the key aspects of our role - to present a balanced and reasonable operating budget each school year, to promote and support the implementation and effectiveness of district improvement plans, and to consider and deliberate on policy decisions that impact the day to day work of our schools and learning of our children. 

In July of 2018, I transitioned to a new role as Director of Member Engagement for the Mastery Transcript Consortium, an international non-profit organization serving 280+ schools (mostly U.S. public and independent schools) that seeks to reinvent how schools prepare students for college, career, and life, by developing a transcript that demonstrates the unique achievements and profile of every single graduate. This position allows me to work remotely and spend more time with my family (my husband, David, and my children, ages nine and five), while at the same time promoting the educational changes so needed across the country and around the world.

Priorities for School Committee
While the Longmeadow Public Schools are certainly ranked among the best schools in the state and across the country, we are facing challenges that could potentially undermine that great reputation and our mission for student learning. Of primary concern is ensuring that our students have the most necessary skills needed to navigate the complex world in which we find ourselves. Skills such as innovation, collaboration, the ability to be agile and thoughtful in considering multiple avenues to solving problems, among other key interdisciplinary skills, must be at the forefront of learning and assessment in our schools. LHS is on its way to ensuring all students achieve those skills as they approach the New England Association of Schools and Colleges process, and it’s certainly my hope that we focus on these key skills across all grade levels – ensuring that students engage in authentic, real-world learning experiences at every level. Developing opportunities for learning beyond the walls of our brick-and-mortar schools and partnering with community organizations to fulfill this goal is an avenue worth pursuing for the deeper learning needs of our students.

Equally as important is focusing on our students’ physical and mental health with the same attention we pay to their academic success. This is a priority of the school district, but this point cannot be understated; in so many schools across the country, the incidences of anxiety and stress are considerable, the impact of social media and fast-paced technology advances seemingly insurmountable. These are large problems that must be tackled by partnering with the community to understand how we can create both home and learning environments that support students in being holistically successful, which includes feeling physically and emotionally well.

From an operations and financial perspective, we must also address the condition of our middle schools – a matter recently attended to by the School Committee and Select Board with the submission of another Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). While Longmeadow has not yet met with success in its mission to seek support and state funding from the state, we must continue to investigate any opportunities for improving the middle school educational environments.

We are likely all aware that, as a community, we face considerable fiscal challenges that will need to be addressed as we approach the tax ceiling. The members of the School Committee and the Select Board must work together with other town committees to find solutions that reduce costs but at the same time ensure that our students, in particular, experience optimal levels of learning to ensure their future success. 

Despite these challenges, the future of the Longmeadow Public Schools is certainly bright. Working together with the current school committee members, parents and the community, students, faculty, administration and staff, we can tackle the challenges ahead of us to ensure that all students of our public schools gain the skills, knowledge, attributes and dispositions they need to learn, grow, thrive, and contribute positively to our larger society. 

Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership
University of Hartford

Master of Education, School Counselor Education
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Susan Bell

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mark Gold seeks Re-election to Longmeadow Select Board

This letter was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Mark Gold who is running for re-election to the Longmeadow Select Board..

Dear Town Resident,

I’m writing to ask for your vote in the June 11th election for the Longmeadow Select Board.

For the past ten years I’ve been privileged to serve the residents of Longmeadow on the Select Board.  During that service I’ve amassed a list of accomplishments of which I am extremely proud – including holding down taxes, negotiating cost-saving contracts and leading the effort that won a multi-million-dollar casino mitigation settlement.  I take pride in being the most prepared member of the Select Board, making sure the right questions are asked of town department heads and outside petitioners alike.

Over the coming years the town will be facing the Proposition 2½ tax cap.  I bring an understanding and experience about the town’s budget and finances that are unequaled on the Select Board, knowledge that will set direction for addressing that issue.  I initiated and have pressed the pursuit of the purchase the Town’s streetlights as a means of to enable the savings of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars per year.

As the town initiates a search for its third town manager, the experience, independent thinking, and balanced decision making that I bring to the Select Board are essential attributes of the next members of the Select Board.

If you have time and have questions, please listen to my responses to important questions at the recent LCTV sponsored Select Board Candidate forum.

I ask for your vote on Election Day, Tuesday, June 11th. 

Mark Gold 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Warrant Article #15 – A closer look at streetlights

This article has been submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Mark gold, current chairman of the Longmeadow Select Board.

“Streetlights?  Why would we possibly want to buy our streetlights?”  

I’ve gotten that question several times over the past eight years, ever since I began the quest for Longmeadow to purchase our streetlights from Eversource – the utility provider.  Why?  Because the town of Longmeadow rents our streetlights form Eversource, the local utility.  Each year our town budget includes $157,600 in rental costs (over $13,000 per month) to rent lights, poles and other accessories associated with our streetlights.   On Tuesday, May 14th the town meeting is being asked to approve funding that will allow us to purchase our streetlights and put an end to these monthly payments.  Here’s why we should approve that funding, and here’s why now is the time. 

First, some background:  In 2010 I attended a workshop at the Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting.  The workshop described how towns had purchased their municipal streetlights and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on their town budget.   The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued a rule that required utilities to sell streetlights to any municipality that was interested in purchasing them at a mutually agreed upon sales price.  We sat down with our utility, WMECo at the time, and asked about the purchase of our streetlights.  WMECo said the lights, poles and hangers were valued on their books at $475,000, so that was their offering price.  The consultant that was advising the town, valued the system at $175,000.  Negotiations began.  During the negotiating process, WMECo included a provision that allowed them to restate the value of their municipal lighting systems in a rate increase request before the DPU.  Shortly after the rate increase was approved WMECo informed us that the book value of Longmeadow’s street lights had increased to $745,000 and that was now their offering price.   Same lights, just a different depreciation schedule, and the book value nearly doubled.  Overnight, the benefit of purchasing street lights went from a sure-fire way to save the town money to at best, a break-even proposition.  Buying our streetlights was no longer the financial sure thing, and the project was put on hold.

For several years, not much changed.  Then the lighting revolution hit, and incandescent lights changed to fluorescent, and fluorescent to ultra-low energy LED’s.  Towns that had municipal power programs began switching their lighting from mercury vapor, sodium vapor, or halide lights to LEDs to save money on their electric usage.  But for towns like Longmeadow, there was no incentive to change to high efficiency lighting.  Longmeadow paid for our streetlights according to a rate tariff. Because the power used to run street lights is not metered, the electric bill for these fixtures is based on the calendar.  For example, during December, where there is an average of 15 hour of darkness, we get charged for the use of each bulb according to its wattage for all 15 hours of darkness.  Even if the bulb is burned out, we’re still charged for the power.  In June, that same bulb may cost us only nine hours of electricity each night.  Bulb by bulb, our charges for electricity change with the seasons, but each bulb has a cost for each day of the year.  Why weren’t towns switching to LED’s?  First, because we didn’t own the fixtures, and Eversource wasn’t about to invest in Longmeadow’s street lights, and we weren’t about to invest in Eversource’s fixtures.  Second, because there was no rate tariff for high efficiency bulbs, so even if we installed an 32 watt LED that provided the illumination of a 300 watt sodium vapor bulb, we’d be charged for usage of the 300 watt bulb. 

The economics of street lights changed in 2018 when the DPU issued street light rate tariffs that included rates for high efficiency (LED) lighting.  Now, the cost to run a 32 watt LED bulb is 10% of its corresponding 300 watt sodium vapor bulb.  Same illumination, 1/10th the cost.  With the adoption of a high efficiency lighting tariff it was time to take another look at our street lights.  In addition to paying $157,600 per year in rental costs, we also pay $110,000 per year in electrical cost to light those streetlights, so the purchase of streetlights and their conversion to high efficiency LEDs gives us the opportunity to save both the rental cost and up to 90% of the operating costs – a total of up to $250,000 per year.

I’m a firm believer that the long term financial stability of Longmeadow includes new sources of revenue and eliminating unnecessary costs.  Five years ago the town was renting a fiber optics line from Verizon as part of the town’s intranet (building-to-building) computer system.  With the approval of Town Meeting, the money we were using to pay that lease was used to finance a loan that purchased and installed our own fiber optics system.  By managing the payments on the loan, the town saved about 20% of the cost of renting from Verizon for the five year length of the loan, and are now saving all the money we once paid Verizon.  It’s time to do the same thing for our street lights.   The $750,000 cost to purchase our street lights can be paid through a 10 year loan at $80,000 per year.  Adding in the cost of a maintenance contract, the payments are still short of the $127,000 per year in rental costs.  And that’s BEFORE we begin saving on the electric bill.

Working with our town CFO, we’ve put together a financial plan under which the town would purchase our street lights.  We’d bond the purchase and pay for the bond out of the budget line-item that pays for street lights.  The plan is to save around 20% of the cost of street lights for the first few years, and then save 85% of the costs once the bonds are paid off.  The 15% of the costs that remain are to provide upgraded lighting and a service contract to address ongoing maintenance.  Our program has the town take advantage of grants (Green Community Grants) and incentives (some from Eversource) that assist municipalities in the conversion of their street-lights to high efficiency LED lighting.  As part of our plan to further reduce the cost of our street-light conversion, I met with the Town of Agawam’s energy task force on November 13th to enlist additional communities in our plan, knowing that a larger purchasing group would reduce the cost of the conversion project.  I am pleased to hear that Agawam (and now West Springfield) are planning to purchase their street lights and join Longmeadow in seeking bids to convert their streetlights to high efficiency LED systems.  

Warrant article 15 at the May 14th Town Meeting seeks authorization to borrow $800,000 to purchase our street lights from Eversource.  The financial impact of this project will have a positive long-term impact on the town and help hold down our taxes.  Please feel free to contact me to answer any questions you may have about this warrant article.  

I urge you to support this warrant article as the next step in fiscal control for the Longmeadow. 

Mark Gold is the chair of the Longmeadow Select Board and can be reached at: mgold@longmeadow.org

Monday, March 18, 2019

Upcoming Special Town Meeting

This letter to the editor was submitted to the Longmeadow Buzz blog by Marie Angelides, current member of the Longmeadow Select Board.


Dear Editor,

The Town of Longmeadow is holding a special town meeting on March 26th after a citizen filed a petition asking that the New Adult Center be built according to the preliminary plan presented at the Annual Town meeting in May 2018. 

There have been some design changes due to the increase costs of materials and needed changes in the preliminary plans to accommodate the programs and services. This petition is asking that we pull back the bid and stop the project. The request is that we go back to the preliminary design. With the added design costs and the projected increases in the cost of building next construction season the town will need to go back to Town meeting for added funding of 1 to 1 ½ million dollars. Another June ballot vote may also be required.

I would like to clarify the status of the design and correct some misinformation that motivated this petition.

Longmeadow is planning on keeping the gift shop at the current location. The Maple Tree Gift Shop at Greenwood sells donated items and greeting cards. The Friends group (FOLOCA) for the Council on Aging runs the gift shop to support programming at the Senior Center. The preliminary design of the new Adult Center included 275 SF for a gift shop. This is inadequate space. The gift shop is now in a space of 990 SF and can expand at the current location. The petition would require the Gift Shop to move to a smaller space.

Another problem with going back to the original design of 275 SF for the shop at the new center surfaced in our December town audit report.  The town auditors informed the Select Board that municipalities cannot use town resources to fundraise for private entities no matter what the cause. To comply with this ruling the town will have to charge rent for the gift shop. The cost of the lease would be higher at the new center and the small space would not allow for much profit for a swap shop. Also shop space at the new Adult Center would also be attractive to other entities during the bid process and Longmeadow could end up with a business at the new Adult Center not the Friends’ gift shop. I am committed to working with the town and the Friends group to find a workable solution at the current space.

Another issue is the Pickle Ball courts. The Pickle Ball courts are part of the bid that has gone out.

There is concern the gym is slightly smaller. The square footage of the gym is actually larger with the inclusion of the elevated track. The Elevated track is one of the most popular design features of the new center.

Moving from preliminary design to final design is a complicated and fluid process. The Building Committee has been meeting almost weekly to have the building bid ready this year. The meetings are posted and open to the public. Comments are invited at the beginning of the meeting.

With this information and the agreement to work together for a positive solution on the gift shop the petitioner has decided to not go forward. There still has to be a meeting on March 26th .  The Town Moderator will advise Town Meeting on the best way to proceed on the article.


Marie Angelides
Longmeadow Select Board
COA Liaison

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Town resident votes No on Superintendent's Contract

 This Buzz letter was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Nancy Hutner Mueller, a Longmeadow resident.

It is unfortunate that some of the people who disagree with the Longmeadow School Committee’s 4-3 decision to not renew Superintendent O’Shea’s contract will not accept the reality that this decision was based on valid complaints about the Superintendent’s performance as enumerated by all 7 school committee members last May in his yearly evaluation report.

6 takeaways from the Longmeadow School Committee's 'needs improvement' evaluation of Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea (MassLive Article, May 10, 2018)

The criticisms in this report should be concerning to any member of the Longmeadow community, especially allegations that Superintendent O’Shea lied to school committee members or mislead them on numerous occasions. The report also alleges that the superintendent spoke to school committee members in hostile, disrespectful, misleading, and even threatening ways. This kind of behavior is not acceptable in a superintendent and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The report also states that Superintendent O’Shea did not follow through with clear directives of the school committee and that he showed a lack of initiative in presenting and recommending new policies and plans to improve the school district. 

Furthermore, several members of the school committee state in their individual evaluations that Superintendent O’Shea tends to be dismissive of complaints from parents, students, and other members of the Longmeadow community; rather than investigating whether a complaint is valid, he has a knee-jerk response to immediately say “no” to parents’ and students’ requests. As stated by School Committee Vice-Chair Russell Dupere, “When complaints are lodged, it appears you instinctively become defensive. It often appears that you spend more time determining how to counter the allegations, instead of actually investigating whether the allegations are true. In my opinion, if a parent or student makes a complaint, the first step should be to gather information to make an informed decision. You cannot make an informed decision if you immediately dismiss complaints as being frivolous. Over time, I believe if this area does not improve it will severely limit your ability to lead effectively.”  School Committee Chair Michelle Grodsky states: “Over the course of the year, multiple cases have occurred where feedback was given to you by a Committee member or a Community member. Examples of issues addressed: athletics, facility safety, administrative matters, personnel matters and policy matters. Concerning to me in follow ups to these conversations is an immediate defense of staff, and a disregard or dismissal of the feedback and/or the person delivering it. For example, in discussing the initial circumstances with our athletic program, you informed me that these concerns were really just coming from parents who were unhappy about the playing time of their children.” Committee member Kerrin Morrin states: “During policy discussions where it was clear that there were opportunities to improve district policies and practices, Dr. O’Shea was reluctant to make significant changes, noting that administration and staff would be upset. As the Superintendent, Dr. O’Shea must not avoid making difficult decisions in order to avoid disagreement and dissent, thus maintaining the status quo.” Clearly the Superintendent’s choice to support administration and other staff in order to maintain the status quo at all costs is not helpful to the progress of our school district in the long run.

In my personal experiences as a parent of two students who previously attended Longmeadow High School, I found that the majority of my requests to administrators were met with an immediate and unconditional “no” response, leaving little or no room for discussion. Administrators were not open to considering alternative courses of action. They were content to avoid following certain federal and state regulations as well as pre-existing school committee policies. Last year, I met with Superintendent O’Shea to discuss some specific complaints as well as to offer suggestions for changing policies and procedures with the intended result of improving educational and extracurricular experiences of all students in Longmeadow. For example, I stated to Superintendent O’Shea that an important mission of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is to ensure that high schools prepare all students to be college ready as well as career ready when they graduate. I suggested to Superintendent O’Shea that Longmeadow join the Massachusetts School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative which gives students the opportunity to participate in the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan so they can get internships with area employers while they are still in high school.

Although 192 high schools (half of all Massachusetts high schools) have joined this Massachusetts School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative (including Minneachaug Regional High School, the high school for which Marty O’Shea was superintendent before coming to Longmeadow two and a half years ago), Superintendent O’Shea told me that he was not aware of the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning plan and that he would look into it and get back to me. Unfortunately, Superintendent O’Shea never got back to me about this potentially great opportunity for students at Longmeadow High School, and he also was not truthful to my family about another important issue. If you look at the Massachusetts School to Career Connecting Activities Initiative website today (click on the link above), you will see that Longmeadow still has not joined this very important School to Career Initiative. Schools in Western Massachusetts that have joined this initiative include Minneachaug Regional High School, Westfield High School, East Longmeadow High School, Agawam High School, West Springfield High School, Chicopee High School, Ludlow High School, Holyoke High School, Springfield Central High School, Easthampton High School, Northampton High School, South Hadley High School, Amherst Regional High School, and many others.

The individuals who have submitted Freedom of Information Act public records requests to view emails sent to and from Longmeadow School Committee members have been selective in which emails they have chosen to post or discuss on MassLive, Facebook, and Longmeadow Buzz; I know that complaints that I have submitted to Longmeadow School Committee members by email concerning Superintendent O’Shea have selectively not been mentioned by his supporters. In my opinion, the four school committee members who voted against renewing Superintendent O’Shea’s contract in November made their decision with the needs of Longmeadow students foremost in their minds. Considering that all seven school committee members wrote poor evaluations regarding the superintendent’s job performance last May, if three of the school committee members (including the chair and vice-chair) had not resigned from the committee at the end of last year, most likely the nonrenewal vote would have been 7-0.

I think that the school committee’s decision should stand and that Longmeadow townspeople should vote against adding a recall provision to the town charter at the Special Town Meeting on Thursday. In a democracy, the appropriate time to vote for elected officials to represent the interests of the people in town is at the annual town elections.     

Nancy Hutner Mueller
Longmeadow resident              

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The rest of the story.... Part II

This article was written and submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Jim Moran/ Longmeadow, MA

We have seen this movie before..... 

TM Stephen Crane was hired by the Longmeadow Select Board in 2011.  It is worth watching portions of this June 4, 2014 Select Board meeting to better understand some of the interpersonal dynamics involving this "employer (Select Board)" vs. "employee (Town Manager)" relationship.

The current dysfunctional relationship between the Longmeadow School Committee and  Superintendent O'Shea have similar characteristics to what has previously occurred between members of the Select Board and the TM Stephen Crane during the TM's first contract period.  Many areas of the TM's first performance review were rated "does not meet expectations" and "needs improvement".  A performance improvement plan was developed.  In addition, an outside consultant was hired to help improve the relationship between both parties.  This Select Board/ TM relationship had difficult times during the first contract period but has improved significantly since then.

It seems that the four members of the School Committee who voted against the renewal at their November 14, 2018 meeting are unwilling to work with Superintendent O'Shea to improve the relationship since they failed to agree on even a one year extension.  This is in spite of tremendous support for Superintendent O'Shea from all of the constituencies and stakeholders involved.  Hiring of a new superintendent will be costly to the town.  It is also likely that a less qualified candidate will need to be chosen in order to fill the vacancy.

The SC chair Beth Baron should at a minimum consider a motion for a one year extension of the Superintendent's contract or submit her resignation.

Below are two MassLive news articles providing additional details about this Select Board meeting for review.

Submitted by Jim Moran/ Longmeadow, MA