Letter: An Open Letter To Amherst Town Government. Your Proposed Zoning Changes Require Input From The Community

40R potential North Pleasant Street buildout. Photo: amherstma.gov

To the Amherst Town Council, Planning Board, Planning Department, Community Resource Committee, and Town Manager:

I am writing to express my wishes for you, for the good of our community:

  • That even though the majority of Town Council came into office with the support of a political action committee, that your thinking process will be curious, innovative, collaborative, independent, transparent, and representative.
  • That you will clarify and communicate precisely how our town would look and feel, if your goals are met (assuming the minimal viable outcome); so that you can better join in a conversation with the community (aka your neighbors) about if that is what is wanted and needed.
  • That you will be inspired by the vision of the master plan, but not conclude hastily as to what tactics will accomplish your strategy.
    There is no “undo” on the results of what you permit.
  • That you respect that strong and sensible zoning is what protects a community’s investment and quiet enjoyment of their premises.
  • That you will respect the sloppiness of fair process, so people feel heard; and that you not be so expedient as to dismiss a robust conversation.
  • That you do not relieve your frustration about how little has changed since you took office by just making something happen.
  • That you will see the wisdom that “my opponent is not my enemy” (Bob Dole)
  • That you will work to increase the look and feel of democracy at its finest, which is inclusive and abundant. (Eliminating citizen committees is the opposite of that.)
  • That you will strive to each maintain your individuality, even as you act as a team, aiming for the innovation that comes from sharing ideas.

There are many in the community you serve who are nervous about the autocratic trends in our country. I wish for you the wisdom and capacity to make Amherst a calm and sane place to live, where people feel represented.

Ira Bryck

Ira Bryck has lived in Amherst since 1993, ran the Family Business Center for 25 years, hosts the Western Mass Business Show on WHMP, coaches and facilitates business leaders, and is a big fan of Amherst’s downtown.

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