Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Question 5

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(Robert Rigo/ Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/ Daily Collegian)

To all Amherst-registered voters:

As a year-round Amherst resident, I love having all the colleges and students in town. I think it gives us an energy and open-mindedness missing in most communities, and a strong economic foundation to build around is an added bonus. And despite the splashy headlines around party time, I find the vast majority of students to be exceptionally well-mannered and friendly. So, thanks for being here.

Now the reason why I so blatantly curry your favor like this is that when you saddle up to the polls in the coming days, you’re going to see several other ballot questions beyond the top of the ticket. Anyway, I want to draw your attention to Question 5, which approves a property tax override to fund a new Amherst public school building.

I’m asking you to vote “Yes” on this. The reason is simple; if it passes, then the state will chip in $34-million dollars for the new building, covering more than half the cost. Ridiculous, right? Well, not so easy to come by. There was a wicked slow, highly-competitive approval process we had to get through first, which started way back in 2007. This is now the final step, and you can help us cross the finish line.

The reason we need a new school now is because we currently have two old school buildings in bad disrepair, and both have a poor design to boot (built in the 1970s during the “open classroom” fad that everyone hates now). So we just had this endless year of town meetings about what to do, and we realized we could save a boatload of money by combining both schools into one – since the state’s offer covers half the cost of one building only.

Our school committee, select board, new building committee and state representative are all in unanimous agreement that we should do this now. If we fail, then we go all the way back to the beginning of the free state money line, waiting an unknown number of additional years, hoping to get approved again.

So a free $34-million dollars from the state; it’s just way too good of a deal to pass up. If you would, please consider helping us out by voting Yes on 5.

Peter Demling

Peter Demling is an Amherst resident and not a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.