Saturday, October 10, 2020

Longmeadow Completes Street Light Project

This summary report was submitted by Select Board member Mark Gold who championed this cost savings project from the beginning.  Cost savings are expected to be ~$200,000/year with a projected 10 year savings of almost $2,000,000.


The Town of Longmeadow recently announced the completion of the street light purchase and conversion project.  As a result of this effort the town will save over $4.8 million and 157 million kilowatt hours over the 20 project life.

The project was conceived more than 10 years ago but restarted in 2018 when the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities adopted a street light cost structure that, for the first time, allowed municipalities to take advantage of high efficiency lighting such as Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).  

Using funding approved at the May 2019 Annual Town meeting, with additional support from state, regional and utility grants, the project began when the street lights were purchased from Eversource in the fall of 2019.  In spring, 2020, with project management by Tanko Lighting of San Francisco (a company that specializes in municipal lighting conversion) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (the Boston area equivalent of the Pioneer Valley Planning Committee), Longmeadow began the process of specifying, purchasing and replacing all the street lights in town with high efficiency LED lighting.  From June through August all 1424 streetlights in town were replaced with LED fixtures or internal electronics and emitters.  

The project economics and energy savings impact of the project are summarized in the attached table.  The cost savings ($201,914 in the first year) are net of bond, maintenance and lost tax revenue and increase after the project bond is repaid in year 10.  These savings do not assume any increase in energy costs over the 20-year period of review.  The high efficiency LED lighting results in energy savings from this project just shy of 70% per year. 

[click table to enlarge]

The new streetlights carry a 5-year warranty.  Any problems with street lights should be reported by calling the DPW office at 567-3400 or completing the street light problem report form that can be found on the town’s DPW web page.  The Longmeadow project team members were Town Manager Lyn Simmons, Select Board member Mark Gold, DPW Director Mario Mazza and Purchasing Manager Chad Thompson.    Residents seeking more information or a more detailed financial summary should contact the Select Board office.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Longmeadow School Committee/ Fall 2020 School Opening

Last week during a lengthy 4+ hour meeting the Longmeadow School Committee voted to have a remote start to their school year with a phased in to hybrid approach. The school year will begin on September 14 remotely, with grades K–5 beginning their hybrid schooling on Sept. 21, grades 6–8 beginning their hybrid schooling on Sept. 29, and grades 9–12 beginning their hybrid schooling on Oct. 5. Students in pre–K and students with intensive needs will begin their school year in person.

See Reminder Publications article for additional details-  Longmeadow School Committee votes to start school year remotely with phased in approach.

If you were not able to watch this important meeting last week here is a link to the full meeting:

Below are couple of the key remarks made by School Committee members as well as Kathleen Russotto/ President of the Longmeadow Education expressing their positions:

Kathleen Russotto- President, Longmeadow Education Assn

Gianna Allentuck, Longmeadow School Committee Member

Kevin Shea, Longmeadow School Committee Member

Bronwyn Monahan, Longmeadow School Committee Member

Jamie Hensch, Longmeadow School Committee Member

The next meeting of the Longmeadow School Committee is scheduled for August 18 at 6:30 PM.  The meeting will be televised on LCTV 809 and live streamed on Longmeadow YouTube channel for residents who are interested in listening into the discussion.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Our Town Needs Article #14 to Pass at the Annual Town Meeting

This post was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz blog by Mark Gold, member of the Longmeadow Select Board.  It is a series of slides created by Mr. Gold with information about Article #14.   Copies of these slides will be handed out at the Annual Town Meeting on June 23.

The Select Board at an earlier meeting this month voted to approve for this article to be added to the Meeting Warrant.

Click charts to enlarge

Please vote YES on Article 14.

by Mark Gold, Longmeadow Select Board

Friday, June 19, 2020

Vote YES on Article #14

This post was written by Jim Moran who has followed and written about Longmeadow town finances on  the LongmeadowBuzz blog for many years.

Many of the discussions on Longmeadow social media and elsewhere focus on the headline that Longmeadow has the highest tax (mil) rate in MA. Little attention is paid to the fact that there are 46 other towns in MA that have significantly higher average single family tax bills vs. Longmeadow.  

For example, the town of Weston has an average tax bill that is more than twice that for Longmeadow but Weston's tax rate is only 12.83 vs. 24.21 for Longmeadow.

Click to enlarge chart

It is also interesting to note that the rate of increase of the average tax bill from FY2000 --> FY2020 for Longmeadow vs. other towns in the area as well as eastern Massachusetts (see chart below).

Click to enlarge chart

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Did you know that average Longmeadow property taxes have increased only ~4% /year for the past 20 years? Tax bills in many towns in eastern MA including Weston and Lexington have increased at significantly higher rates (see table above).
  2. Did you know that the Longmeadow tax rate has decreased a number of times in recent years but average tax bills increased at the same time?
  3. Did you know that if the average Longmeadow assessed property value decreased that taxes will still increase? 
  4. Did you know if the town doubled the tax (mil) rate for local businesses, it would deliver very little tax relief to home owners?  This is because Longmeadow's total property assessment is primarily residential (97%/ 3%).
  5. Did you know that the Proposition 2½ tax (mil) rate cap of $25/1000 is an arbitrary number established almost 40 years ago (1983)?
  6. Did you know that Longmeadow is 97% residential/ 3% commercial and a total assessed value over $2 billion? Most new growth in assessment value comes from home improvement not new home/ business development.
  7. Did you know if the current COVID-19 situation results in a significant downturn in the economy and decrease in property values, the town could be forced to reduce taxes resulting in a significant reduction in services?
ARTICLE 14. To see if the Town will vote to petition the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to permit the Town, subject to approval at a town-wide referendum vote, to exempt the Town of Longmeadow from the requirements of paragraphs (b), (d), and (e) of Section 21C of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 59 by adding paragraph (f) as follows: 

(f) The local appropriating authority of any city or town may, by two-thirds vote, seek voter approval at a regular or special election to accept this paragraph f, thereby rejecting the limit set forth in paragraph (b) and not be subject to it provided however that the question submitted shall be as follows:

''Shall the (city/town) of ___ adopt paragraph f of MGL Chap 59 section 21C thereby rejecting the 2.5% of assessed market value tax ceiling limit set forth in paragraph b of MGL Chap50 Sec 21C?

Yes ___ No ___"; and provided, further, that said question shall be deemed approved if a majority of the persons voting thereon shall vote ''yes''. or in other ways modifying Chapter 51 section 21C to affect this local exemption from the 2.5% of assessed market value tax ceiling limit, or take any other action relative thereto.

This warrant article allows the Town to request from the Massachusetts legislature the option to allow towns to waive the tax ceiling imposed by Proposition 2-1/2 if property values drop to a level that would cause the local tax rate to exceed the current maximum allowable rate. Such a decline in property values would not allow the Town budget to sustain services in Longmeadow. Even if this requested legislation is enacted, the town of Longmeadow would have to accept the option by voting “yes” at both a town meeting (2/3 vote) and a referendum ballot of a town-wide election.

Become an informed voter.

Vote YES on Article 14 at the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday so that the town has the tools it needs to navigate difficult times ahead.  Remember a YES vote does not increase taxes or the tax rate.

by Jim Moran/ 40 year Longmeadow Town Resident

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Spending Longmeadow's Tax Dollars in a Responsible Manner

The following letter was shared by Select Board member, Mark Gold who wanted to provide some insight as to how financial decisions are being made for the town.

Here's my response to the ten or more people who have asked for two more pickleball courts at the new Longmeadow Adult Center

I appreciate your note, and your taking the time to write to the Select Board members.  I think it's important for residents to understand the basis for my concerns about the addition of two more pickleball courts to the design of the Longmeadow Adult Center, concerns that are neither an attack on seniors (I am one) nor on the need for additional recreational activities in town for seniors, but rather one of scope creep and funding process.  The basis for my concern is as follows:

The town was advised of a design for the Adult Center - along with ancillary facilities.  Based on that design (and some of the seniors were the most adamant that we stick to the design as presented at town meeting), the town appropriated funds to build that facility.  The design that was offered and agreed upon DID NOT have four pickleball courts.  I understand that there is a group of people in town who, like you, believe we need additional pickleball courts, but what they need to understand is that the elected and appointed officials in town are also hearing from others who want more (pick one): baseball fields, tennis courts, softball fields, soccer fields and two new schools (not to mention Library facilities, road repairs, sidewalk repairs and the like).  Funding is limited and the fact that there may be contingency funds left over in the Adult Center project does not approve those funds to be spent on pickleball courts, or in fact, to be spent at all. Who's to say that other groups don't believe we should construct an outdoor bocce ball court or shuffleboard court or any one of a number of outdoor recreational activities using unspent "contingency" funds?  My fiduciary responsibility is to assure that the building as designed gets built for the lowest price in the highest quality manner, and contingency funds are specifically for that use - to assure we can build what we said we would - no less, but also no more.  The offer of the "Friends of the Adult Center" to assist in the capital costs of these pickleball courts cannot influence me in conducting my fiduciary responsibility to the 11,000 voters in Longmeadow who approved financing for a very specific design of the Adult Center.


If the need for additional pickleball courts is as critical as stated, their construction will be vetted and prioritized against other needs in town.  Funding for recreational facilities is available through the Community Preservation fund as well as our Capital Planning process.  Even the town Building Committee has recognized that they currently have a "one bid" price for construction of these courts that includes several project related percentage add-ons for the General Contractor and the Owner's Project Manager.  One should also note that state law (chapter 30B) requires competitive bidding on projects such as two additional pickleball courts - something that is clearly NOT integral to the construction and opening of the Adult Center as proposed and funded by town meeting.  One of the letters I received in support of the additional pickleball courts was written by a resident of Enfield - asking us to spend our money on facilities they benefit from. 

I do not want to leave you with the impression that my opposition to these courts at this time is hiding behind "process".  My concern is for scope creep and funding items that did not, and may not, have the support of those who are paying the bill.  I strongly support providing facilities in town for everyone to be able to exercise in the way that meets their needs, but I'll continue to watch the dollars that the town voters have entrusted us with to build the adult center they were promised.  

Mark Gold/ Longmeadow Select Board

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ken Taylor- Candidate for Re-election to the Longmeadow Planning Board

This post was submitted by Ken Taylor, current member of the Longmeadow Planning Board and who is running for re-election in the upcoming Annual Town Elections on June 16

I am Ken Taylor and am running for re-election to the Longmeadow Planning Board.  I have been a town resident for 52 years and both of my children have graduated from the town school system.  I am a graduate Engineer from the WNEC University and am a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Massachusetts.  In my work career I was a Project Engineer and Forensic Metallurgist.
I served on the Water and Sewer Commission for 21 years prior to the town changing to Town Manager style.

I have served on the Planning Board for 13 years.  I love Longmeadow and am aware of the need to provide guidance to the natural, historic and cultural resources.  Since I moved here, I have seen Longmeadow change from a town with open fields to one which is fully developed.

The most important issue facing the town is the proposed Gas Pumping / Metering station on the Longmeadow Country Club grounds.  The Planning Board has had many public meetings resulting in a series of by-laws that will hopefully stop the installation.  Another issue will be town finances.  The current tax base cannot support all the services the residents want.  Any new developments that could provide more tax revenues will come before the Planning Board.  Other issues will be the Water Tower property, the former Christian Science Church redevelopment, the re-use of the former Synagogue on Williams Street, the possible consolidation of the Middle School and the use of those properties. 

The recent accomplishments of the Planning Board are the Brewer-Young Mansion zone change and commercial development, the Dwight Road Medical project, the Willie Ross School expansion, the Pride gas station development, and the Longmeadow Shops expansion.

By definition the Planning Board has the responsibility to guide the development of the Town in the best interest of all its residents. The Planning Board plays an important role in developing the visions for future growth and preservation of the community by listening to the public for opinions and comments concerning the welfare and appearance of the town’s residential appeal and formulating rules and by-laws in an effort to maintain the unique character of Longmeadow.

I feel that my education and work experience will continue to be of great assistance in evaluating proposals from a different viewpoint as I work with the others on the Planning Board and coordinating with other Boards for the betterment of all residents in this lovely town of ours.

I ask for your vote on Election Day, Tuesday, June 16.

Thank you.

Ken Taylor

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Technology Moderates Economic and Personal Impact of Sudden Stoppage and Social Distancing

This following article was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz by Longmeadow resident Peter Landon.

Technology Moderates Economic and Personal Impact of Sudden Stoppage and Social Distancing

In reflecting on our COVD-19 containment and mitigation strategy (flattening the curve) and the important role of social distancing, we need to be thankful that today's computer, mobile and cloud technologies are in place, to facilitate so many important activities of daily life.
Online education (virtual learning model), online purchases, work from home, streaming entertainment, online tax filing and online social sites, all blunt the negative impact, of the sudden stoppage in service and manufacturing industries.

A thirty percent increase in internet activity has been handled well, so far, by our digital pipes, fiber networks and airwaves (wireless).
Zoom meeting services has allowed governance of businesses, not for profits and government to continue online and with continued public input in many cases.

The Courts’ wheels of justice will continue remotely according to Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph Gants. He has asked the courts to unleash the creativity, adaptability and imagination of a MASH unit in times of war. 

Many new technologies, many of which had ignored, are facilitating online connectivity. Just this weekend our friend celebrated his 92nd birthday remotely on ZOOM Media, with 72 attendees from all over the world, including singing and dancing! 

Unlike pandemics of past generations, our digital technologies have underpinned the release our ever-increasing biotechnology prowess to locate solutions to treat and vaccinate, at breakneck speed. Even better than our response to Ebola a decade ago. None of these technologies were available for the devastating 1918-1920 pandemic (Spanish Flu) that killed an estimated 100 million worldwide including 650,000 in the United States.

Peter Landon
Longmeadow resident

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


This following article was submitted to the LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Port.

It’s sad to loose a local paper. After 50 years, the printing of The Longmeadow News is not longer profitable. Last year, The Reminder Publications took over ownership of The Westfield News Group. Both The Enfield Press (with roots back to 1880) and our town paper are now history. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and relive some special moments. We have come a long way in half a century.

The first man had walked on the Moon a month before. It was the week of The Woodstock Music Festival. On Wednesday, August 20th 1969 the first issue of The Longmeadow News hit the stores. The cost was a reasonable 15 cents and the paper was full of advertising. Early stories featured a section called Nature Walk and articles concerning local volunteers and a soldier returning from Vietnam. There is no mention of the huge music festival. Meals-on-Wheels were provided by The Friendly Steak and Sundae Shop on Longmeadow Street near St. Mary’s Church. Kimmel’s and Brightwood Hardware were buying ad space along with businesses in Enfield, Ct. and the city of Springfield. I learned that our town did not have a local post office in 1969, but wanted one. An editorial concerning dress codes at the High School reminds us how times have changed. Detailed rules for each gender are considered comical now. The girls could not wear pants and the boys could not wear blue dungarees. Someone was actually expelled from LHS for long hair, and it was not a female.


Why has our hometown paper closed operations? I blame the Internet. Younger folks don’t have time to stop by CVS or a gas station to buy an issue for 50 cents. Feature stories were available on-line either on the Longmeadow News Facebook page or on other news feeds. Where will we get the news on local crimes and misdemeanors? The Police and Fire Logs will possibly be moved to another site, I hope. Will the town website or alternative website change to accommodate important information?  Where will we see the recent list of scholars on The Honor Roll or what the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are doing to help others? Where will the local library and Senior Center list activities? The weekly calendar was extremely helpful for those of us who subscribed and looked forward to delivery of the paper every Thursday. All I have now are questions with no answers. I just feel sad…like an old friend will be gone.

If you have the time, I recommend a visit to The Storrs Library to read about the good ‘ole days. Original issues of the paper from 1969 to recent issues are bound together by year. All you need to do is ask at the Reference Desk and they will retrieve a volume for you. It has been a wonderful twenty years as a columnist at this paper. It was a great way for me to express my thoughts and meet people. The articles provided a platform for issues to be discussed and analyzed. From articles about historic preservation, parkland to town meetings, from school expansion and construction to traffic problems - I enjoyed interviewing interesting local personalities. We will all fondly remember the feeling of reading The Longmeadow News as we sipped a cup of coffee and learned what was going on around here. I wonder what will come next? There is a need for improved communication in this community and the loss of the printed word will not help us in the predicament we are in. Everyone seems cut off from each other in the winter months, and then spring and summer we get so busy with outdoor life like school events, sports, gardening and traveling. I pray that we will all reach out to each other and find ways to share information. In Colonial Times there was a Town Crier, but now there is the grapevine…. We can no longer say “ I read it in The Longmeadow News.” Thanks to the editors, graphic designers and staff. I have met some wonderful people along the way.

Upcoming Dates to Remember in 2020:

March 31st     Park & Rec Forum on Open Space
                     At the High School 7 pm

April 4th        Spring Clean Up at Laurel Park 10am – 2 pm
                    Please volunteer your time – we need you!

April 13th      Conway School begins Master Plan for Laurel and Bliss Parks

May 12th       Town Meeting 7 pm at the High School

May 16-17th  Long Meddowe Days Weekend on the Town Green

June 16th       Town Election 8 am to 8 pm


by Betsy Port, Longmeadow resident