The Joint Capital Planning Committee voted 7-1 this morning to approve $3,153,200 in recommendation to the Town Manager that backtracked only slightly from last week's fireworks laden meeting, mainly to now include $20,000 for 16 Jones Library surveillance cameras and $10,000 for maintenance work at the town owned Hitchcock Center building.
After the camera initiative was properly vetted by IT directory Kris Pacunas, the price had precipitously dropped from $60,000 to $20,000 and will certainly provide peace of mind for patrons made nervous by frisky teens frolicking in the unattended downstairs, or the homeless wandering in looking for a place to sleep.
Library Trustee Carol Gray took exception once again to cuts that were upheld: $150,000 for fire protection system and $15,000 for building insulation, which she claimed would return about $3,000 in annual energy savings, or a five-year payback. Although she neglected to factor in the $15,000 that was approved last year for insulation and never spent, thus the payback period is really ten years.
And of course being a former lawyer she held up the architectural study commissioned by Library Trustees that highlighted minor deficiencies in the current fire protection system suggesting the town would be liable for any injuries sustained in the (unlikely) event of a fire.
Ms. Gray also took a cheap swipe at $90,000 earmarked for planning studies split between two major projects: Last fall "Form Based Zoning" failed to garner the two-thirds vote necessary (119-79) at Town Meeting--with many opponents saying the article required "more study"--that would have rezoned North Amherst center and the Atkins Corner in South Amherst.
And the Gateway Corridor Town Center rezoning study, a $40,000 item to bring Form Based Zoning to the commercial downtown and the contiguous corridor leading to our largest employer, UMass.
Former Library Trustee (Chair) Pat Holland, who was defeated last year because of her tag-team involvement with Ms. Gray in running off long time library Director Bonnie Isman, is running unopposed for the lone Amherst Redevelopment Authority seat in the April 3 election.
The ARA spearheaded, nurtured and delivered the Gateway Project plan over the past year-and-a-half, but will probably have little future involvement for Ms Holland to sabotage.