by Meg Gage and Janet Keller
The residents of District 1 in North Amherst are creating new ways to engage both residents and business people, to make life better for those who live, work, and play in North Amherst.
The District One Neighborhood Association, (DONA) provides ways for our neighbors to connect, have fun and to make their voices heard on issues that affect their lives daily. We hope to turn challenges into opportunities and build on North Amherst’s assets, such as its outstanding natural, historic, agricultural and recreational resources .
We’re looking at how to best integrate new development proposals, which have come to North Amherst since its designation as a federal opportunity zone last year. We’re asking the town to address long-neglected needs, like installing a smart traffic light at the North Amherst intersection to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety. This intersection is already dangerous and will be more so when 5,500 more trips are added to the current daily total of 2,400 when new apartments and commercial enterprises open on Cowls Road next year.
We are working for a safer North Amherst intersection, safer traffic on Montague Road, an accessible library with public toilets, along with more protected public spaces.
We’re helping to build community through monthly meetings. These provide a time and place for people to get to know one another, and have also evolved into committees addressing specific concerns.
DONA members have organized rides and hosted a holiday potluck featuring a storyteller.
The association gathers and shares information, and helps people connect with the local government. It is providing opportunities for neighbors to learn about issues, and promote needed changes in District One. It also a platform enabling residents to speak up for school improvements, and clear and defensible budget priorities among other town-wide issues.
We provide healthy snacks and childcare at each DONA meeting, and invite everyone in the room to make a comment before the close. Many topics raised during the comment period are considered at future meetings.
Members of our Planning Team would be delighted to meet with representatives from other districts to share how we are building community with DONA.
We will be launching our web site soon. Keep a look out for the announcement.