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Betsy’s Corner: Updating Our Town Warrant

Sometimes change is needed. Sometimes we need to improve what we have. Sometimes if you don’t change, you will be left behind. Change is necessary when you are living in the past. I loved learning the history of Longmeadow when I came here, but that was before the Internet. A person like me needed to research the facts and I talked to people to find out the stories of “Olde Long Meddowe.” Now, with a laptop, all we have to do is turn on the Internet and do a Google search.

In the past 20 years the world has changed in exponential ways. Everyone, or almost everyone relies on a computer to get their work done. In a town rich in history it seems that we are slow to change. The town warrant for the meeting scheduled on May 8 came in the mail yesterday included in a copy of the Reminder publication. It was thrown out of a vehicle and I picked it up in our driveway, enclosed in a blue plastic bag with a yellow sticker on it. In the age of the Internet, I certainly hope the warrant is also included on the town website.

The Longmeadow 2018 Annual Town Meeting Warrant is 24 pages long. I am sure it took hundreds of hours to write and it is full of details and important information that took countless hours to organize and confirm. Will everyone read it? I doubt it because it’s too long to digest. Will there be an easier way to compile all those facts and articles in the future? When will we know it is time to change? Think about how many pages of paper were used to print at least 500 copies of the warrant. How can we make it easier for the residents of our town to read the lengthy warrant and get information? There are a total of 35 articles on the warrant this year. Does that mean that the meeting will take place over two nights, as it was last spring of 2017? Once again, I have questions with no answers.

Everyone is invited to the Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 8 if they are a registered voter. It may be difficult for some residents to get there if they have small children to care for or if they are handicapped. During the spring meeting we usually don’t have to worry about weather issues like snow or even blizzards, but at the rate we are going this spring I would not be surprised if there was cold weather, a hurricane, earthquake, or tornado to interrupt our scheduled meeting.

New England is not the best place for a mild and sunny springtime. Does everyone plan on attending the meeting? Do the local sports teams even know that games, events and tournaments should not be planned for that date and time? Every year there always seem to be conflicts, and last year I did not even get to attend, although I wanted to.

A $14 million Senior Center is proposed in Article 14. I hope people will inform themselves on this large and important undertaking. There is a lot to consider, especially when you realize that the population of this town is aging. It looks like the group of people over 60 will continue to grow in the coming decades. Unfortunately, the younger generation is choosing to live in other locations. The birthrate is either stable or going down. A 2/3 vote is needed to pass this article. Educate yourself!

Other highlights on the warrant include many funding options suggested by the Finance Committee. The Community Preservation Projects are many. Articles 17 through 24 deal with CPA grants. Article 18 and 20 are close to my heart and involve improvements to Bliss Park Playground and the addition of new picnic tables and trees. Please vote yes on these important issues to preserve our beloved Bliss Park.

Important issues are discussed and voted on in each annual town meeting. I know budgets and accounting issues might be boring or conflict with your child’s sports schedule, but please participate! In the future, maybe we can vote online! Yet, that idea might be many years away. In the meantime, go to the meeting at the High School! I will see you there! Thank you for reading this article.

– By Betsy Huber Port