Growing anxiety has emerged in Amherst as the town’s residents struggle to come to a consensus on which project (if any) they would support if voters approved the $500 tax increase they would incur in order to aid the town’s potential upcoming build projects whose hefty price tag is estimated at $100 million.
Businessman, Cornell Graveley says, “I work at Home Depot so I say build em, build em all! It’ll help my business,” while on the the other hand there’s Laurie Canter who says, “Taxes are relatively high…. I don’t think I could afford an additional tax increase this late in the game.”
These building projects include long-term plans for renovating and expanding the Jones Library, constructing two 375 student schools in one building, and finally building a firehouse in South Amherst.The University of Massachusetts’ journalism students took to the streets of downtown Amherst on the night of Sept. 28, 2016 to conduct a series of random interviews with Amherst residents about their thoughts on the projects.
The one thing residents seemed to agree with was that the Jones library and the town’s school, Wildwood, was in need for some TLC. The Fire Department in South Amherst didn’t seem to catch much heat with folks as they probed the fact that many of them were in full support of putting their money toward education.
Margaret McClamroch, an 81-year-old Amherst resident says, “”Libraries are changing in our culture, as well as their purposes. [This building project] wants to move Jones Library into that nationally-acclaimed approach,” “The public works building project is a very bad idea.”
While some people are in full support of town’s plan and will to shell out a few extra dollars to help support the community, others feel that schools should attribute more to the town’s taxes and others feel that making the library regional is “too much” and “The colleges should do that,” says Carol Ranzel-Wallace.
Coming from 79-year-old retiree,Byron H. Koh, he sits back and watches the changes made in this town. Having the final say as he shares his wisdom stating, “I’m not convinced, coming all at once. It should be spread out.” He thought that working on three different projects at once would be difficult for the town to maintain. It would also be a burden on residents.”