Amherst Voting Districts. Photo: amherstma.gov

Aiming to “make the District 5 area a better place to live,” a group of South Amherst residents has formed the District 5 Neighborhood Association and is seeking members. District 5 comprises voting precincts 7 and 8 and includes Amherst Woods, South Amherst, Orchard Valley, and the condominiums and large apartment complexes on East Hadley Road.

After a September 25 general meeting at the Munson Memorial Library, organized by District 5 resident Irv Rhodes, volunteers formed a steering committee that has been meeting every few weeks to establish basic protocols and leadership. The steering committee had scheduled its first membership meeting for January 8 at the Munson Library but that meeting was postponed because of technical problems at the building and will be rescheduled soon. The purpose of the meeting is to build membership and choose areas of focus for the association’s work. All South Amherst residents are invited to attend.

Statement of Purpose and Elected Officers
Following a model provided by the District One Neighborhood Association (DONA), the steering committee drafted a statement of purpose:

We are a volunteer association. Our mission is to make the District 5 area a better place in which to live, with membership being open to every resident.

We are responsive to our community’s needs through the relationships we build with and among our neighbors, neighborhood businesses, community organizations, and the Town of Amherst. We do not endorse candidates for office.

We operate as a conduit of information for our neighbors by giving them an opportunity to bring forth their concerns and problems. By inviting speakers related to pertinent issues at our meetings and maintaining a membership email list and a website, we keep our neighbors aware of town operations, community organizations and events, and potential developments or changes in the neighborhood.

We promote activities within our neighborhood related to safety, community needs, neighborhood beautification, and public well-being. We also sponsor family-friendly, community-building events that help neighbors get to know each other.

The steering committee elected a chair, vice-chair/communications coordinator, recording secretary, and media manager, whose terms will be two to three years:

Chair: Janet Marquardt

Vice-Chair/Communications Coordinator: Amy Crawley

Recording Secretary: Bernie Kubiak

Media Manager: Paul Goulston

Other members of the steering committee are Nancy DiMattio, Irma Gonzalez, Bruce Penniman, Irv Rhodes, and Marina Templeton.

District Issues
The steering committee has identified several areas that might impact the district and is seeking South Amherst residents who are willing to monitor these and other issues and to work with District 5 councilors and town administrators to ensure community involvement in decision making. Current items include:

  • Town purchase of the Hickory Ridge Golf Course and plans for its development
  • Impact of the Amherst Master Plan on District 5
  • Plans for reuse or repurposing of the empty South Amherst School on Fiddler’s Green
  • South Amherst village center development
  • Location of the planned new Fire Station and Department of Public Works facilities
  • Safety and upkeep of streets and roads
  • Public transportation
  • Crocker Farm School upcoming challenges

The steering committee is also interested in hearing from South Amherst residents about other aspects of town work that relate to District 5, such as planning, education, zoning, transportation, preservation, recreation, and conservation. 

To receive ongoing information, interested South Amherst residents are invited to contact the steering committee at amhdistrict5@gmail.com and provide their name(s), contact information, and area(s) of interest.

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