The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council on July 26,2021
We, the Community Safety Working Group (CSWG), are writing to support the release of $139,000 from Amherst Media’s capital funds allocation held by the town to allow Amherst Media to pay off their mortgage, eliminate mortgage interest payments, and continue to serve our community. As you know, the capital funds came from Comcast through fees paid by Amherst resident cable subscribers and not from the town tax revenue. We are aware of the dialogue that has taken place regarding contract language for the use of the funds for equipment and facility. The Amherst Media request to use $139,000 for facility is consistent with the contract that was negotiated in 2016 for 10 years. To date, Amherst Media has only spent $170,226 out of their $675,000 capital funds.
We would like to remind you all how much of an asset Amherst Media is to the community and how necessary their services are to continue to make local government more equitable and accessible to all Amherst residents. For decades Amherst Media has led the way and provided our community access to local government, expanded local news, given a voice to organizations, and enabled people to develop new skills for the changing economy. By denying Amherst Media the funds necessary to allow them to move, grow, and continue serving Amherst residents; a greater message is being sent to the community, and that is that community transparency and access do not matter.
Amherst Media’s vision of “a world-class community media center where those stories can be told, shared, and amplified”, only amplifies a message you all sent to the community in your December resolution reaffirming,” commitment, in collaboration with all residents, to pursue policies and take action to ensure civil and human rights to all individuals”. Access to what is going on in town government should be a right to all residents in Amherst and equally so, community members should be able to tell, share and amplify their stories to guide our community leaders to serve all people. Community safety includes community engagement, community transparency, and community enrichment, all values Amherst Media has stood behind. We firmly urge you to direct the Town Manager to release the funds as soon as possible.
Brianna Owen, Co-Chair
Ellisha Walker, Co-Chair
The signatories are members of the Community Safety Working Group