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IN OUR OPINION:

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Does Our Town Hall Need an Accessibility Ramp?

On Feb. 23, the Historic District Commission will continue a hearing on the appropriateness of a proposed accessibility ramp in front of our town hall. The Selectboard has proposed the ramp out of concern that the main hall is not accessible to disabled people. It certainly should be - that's the law.

But it might add to the discussion to recognize that there is one comment that many visitors to our Friday Market leave behind each week: “This is such a beautiful town.”

The comment clearly relates to the graceful Greek Revival structures that surround our town common and from the care that the town has taken to preserve them from unneeded modernizing features.

That care has been extraordinary for decades:

When our bandstand needed repair, citizens stepped up.

When the town hall burned in 1957, the community came together and erected a faithful replica.

When the Unitarian Church faced accessibility issues, a solution was found that in no way defaced the architectural integrity of the building.

Today, the HDC is considering a "certificate of appropriateness" for a concrete and steel ramp in front of the town hall. On its face, adding such a structure would not be appropriate. It instead would stand as a permanent scar on the face of one of our most beautiful buildings.

Do we need to follow the rules and make the a building accessible? Of course we do. Are we facing an imminent enforcement action from the state? We are not. Do we need to deface an historic structure to meet the rules? Of course not. There are less intrusive solutions but the only choice presented to a Dec. 12 town meeting was an external ramp.

It is within the HDC's purview to suggest other solutions and or modifications to the proposal. HDC has the power to retain technical expertise to assist. The HDC should do exactly that. A few weeks delay will not make the situation any worse that it is today.

Clearly, great effort has been expended to come to this point, but there is no great value to effort spent in allowing a solution that is not in keeping with the HDC's mission. In addition, no convincing argument can be made that such a solution might deter imagined legal “risks” that have not and may never materialize.

Surely, a solution can be found that would not diminish the carefully preserved integrity of our town hall and our common. An interior elevator like the one at the Unitarian Church might well be the best choice.

The beauty of our common has been carefully preserved by preventing, not by welcoming, solutions that rely on concrete and steel.

The HDC should deny this application and send the Selectboard, well yes, back to the drawing board.

Get Over It

Donald Trump lost the election - in Petersham - 416 to 312. But he won nationwide thanks to the Electoral College system. Here, 416 people probably gnashed their teeth. Elsewhere, people took to the streets in protest. That's the system. There are winners and there are losers.

Now it is time to step back, walk back the nasty rhetoric and get on with whatever comes next. NOTE TO ELIZABETH WARREN - That means you too. Hateful speech diminishes only the speaker.

The sky did not fall. The republic will survive. We are, after all, we are all in this together.

Where is the Argument?

Putting aside the question of how the Commonwealth might regulate pot shops - and collect staggering amounts of new revenue - there seems to be a contingent in Boston that wants to delay the whole thing.

But here's the deal - with black helicopters hovering and reports of law enforcement swooping down to confiscate small quantities of home-grown pot from people with medical marijuana permits - the people voted YES to allow home-grown pot plants. December 15, 2016 is the date when home-grown becomes legal.

In Petersham, the vote was 465 Yes to 329 No. Pot shops might require a regulatory "infrastructure" and creating that might cause a delay. But statewide, the electorate voted yes for small amounts of home-grown dope.

Our legislators should step back and respect the voters action. Simple as that. There is no need to delay that part of the new law.

potheads

Where Are All of You?

The US Census Bureau says 1,234 people live here. Our town government spends a bit more than $3 million each year on roads, schools and all that other stuff.
Eleven people attended the Oct. 21 Selectboard meeting. Three Selectmen, two town employees, two newspaper reporters, the transfer station assistant and the animal control person were among them. Two just plain residents? Where is everybody else?

Drunk - On (Our) Money

The US will overspend its income by more than $1 trillion again in the coming year. You don't have to be a right-winger to work out that most households would be in huge trouble if they spent more than they earned.

So how about Congress and the President? The US spends 10X more than anyone else in the world for weapons and soldiers, billions on aid to other countries, billions for agencies that spend their time writing more rules and more regulations designed to "fix" everything that could possibly go wrong.

Isn't it about time that someone in government realized it is time to re-think, to spend less? To limit the costly rules and regulations that  drain needed dollars from home budgets and small businesses? To recognize that household budgets are straining, people are cutting household spending so they can stay warm and pay for gasoline? Or is government at all levels just drunk on our money?

IN OUR OPINION...

The System Is Broken - 1

"We are sorry for the delay but all of our representatives are helping other customers. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you shortly." How many times have you heard that and waited 20 or more minutes to get  a simple question answered? Are call volumes "unusually high" or do these companies simply not have enough folks answering the phones? Here's an idea -- hire a few more call center representatives. Answer more calls in less time. Give a few folks badly needed jobs and give the rest of us a little well-deserved relief..

Call or write:
Sen. Anne Gobi 617-722-1540 Anne.Gobi@state.ma.us
Rep. Susanna Lee 617-722-2425 susanna.whippslee@mahouse.gov


                        DAY - D. Tatlock

To find out who your legislators are, visit the Massachusetts legislature's website at www.state.ma.us/legis . Or just look at the bottom left hand corner of the home page.

Send all snail mail to: The Honorable (name of your state representative/state senator) State House, Boston, MA 02133. Your representatives all have e-mail addresses as well.

Sometimes it is a good thing to live at the top of a hill.

 

 

 

 

IN YOUR OPINION:

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Letters to the Editor

 Trump Will Undermine Our Democracy

Dear Editor,

President-elect Trump threatens everything I believe in and have spent a lifetime supporting or actively striving for. Hillary was not the perfect candidate, Bernie was, but she will do. Trump has to go, and I hope the Electoral College agrees. Otherwise, he will undermine the fabric of our democracy and all the safeguards that have been put in place over the past 100 or so years...starting with Teddy Roosevelt's protections of the environment through the establishment of the national park system.

Trump has no respect for workers, civil rights, the environment or free speech. His behavior and cabinet selections reveal his game plan. But it is Trump, along with America, that is being played for a fool. He has played into Russia's hands and will do their bidding at a juncture when America is at a crossroad and could maintain its global prominence or rapidly decline and our resources plundered. Russia will be on the ascendancy if Trump is allowed to be president. Our glory days will be long past.

Trump does not uphold American values that have inspired people the world over. His language is that of a bully and degenerate. Fascism is not what made America great, but rather a belief in We the People and a firm understanding that the country belongs to all of us. We look out for one another through safeguards such as environmental and safety regulations, educational opportunities and civil rights protections that respect everyone within a nation of laws, not arbitrary rule by a preening narcissist with a comb-over.

Sincerely,

Genevieve Fraser
211 Dana Road
Orange MA 01364

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