On July 9, nine residents trekked through fields and woods to the far north section of the east campus along Bassett Brook. This land is largely invisible to most residents. It lies beyond our trails and beyond the “Free Fifty” acres of forest from which we’ve removed invasives in the past.
It’s still a basically healthy forest, quiet and beautiful, with maples and pines on rolling slopes along the multi-channeled Bassett Brook and its wetland. But scientific research shows that the increasing presence of invasive plants like multiflora rose, shrub honeysuckle, and oriental bittersweet could significantly reduce the wildlife our land can support (http://www.inwoodlands.org/what-do-our-private-invasive/).
Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, Dec. 21, 2018.
The new Republican tax bill is all over the news lately, but we’re not the first people who’ve had to think hard about taxes at this holiday season. Hannukah celebrates the rededication of the temple in the year 165 BCE, after the Jews, oppressed by cruel taxes and other wrongs, had risen up and defeated their Greek occupiers. In the Christian story, the reason Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in the first place was because Rome had decreed that “all the world should be taxed,” and Jews must travel to the town of their family’s origin to pay up. A carpenter and his 9-month pregnant wife had to walk or ride a donkey to a hugely overcrowded town with not enough hotels. American colonists were so mad about British taxes on tea that on December 16, 1773, they dumped their own precious tea into the Boston harbor. Continue reading Taxes→
So here’s the problem: In the press of competing demands on community tax money, four areas tend to get short shrift–open space preservation, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreational facilities. Yet these aspects are critical to the long-term flourishing of the community.
So how about a state law that allows communities to vote to levy a real-estate tax surcharge to provide money for these four areas, and how about giving the communities some state matching funds for encouragement?
In 2000, the Massachusetts legislature did just that, with the Community Preservation Act (CPA). And the towns of Northampton and Easthampton voted to set aside CPA funds. You get the money by writing a grant proposal, which is then evaluated by a town CPA Committee and approved by the City Council.
And how about this idea–since the regular grant proposal process is long and complex, how about establishing an easier process for Continue reading A Great Idea→