Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. Tiffany location now boarded up
I can't remember the last time going into a night of Town Meeting not knowing how I was going to vote on any particular article. Last night there were two such articles -- both dealing with historical preservation -- and I'm not overly confident either of my votes will turn out right.
The Tiffany Window inside the Unitarian Church -- even in its tired state -- is an absolute thing of beauty. When viewed from inside the church looking out. But when looking from the outside in, not so hot. And $106,000 of public money is a LOT of money.
Angel of the Lillies Tiffany Window from the inside
I also wonder why St Brigid's Church directly across the street can manage to do historical capital projects without asking for town tax money.
St Brigid's Church this morning
And there is the matter of them whacking the 100+ year old healthy pin oak for the convenience of their expansion. Sure they grudgingly made an effort (that probably cost less than $3,000) to see if the towering tree could be saved.
Town took down unhealthy Pin Oak near telephone pole
If someone from the town had said a long time ago that you can do your expansion only if the tree survives, you can bet they would have come up with a plan that saved the tree. And if that plan and change in construction cost an extra $100,000 they would still be $6,000 to the good.
Because now the town is partners in their construction project anyway, to the tune of $106,000 to save the Tiffany.
Health Pin Oak (center) coming down soon
So I voted "No." Next year after the Tiffany goes back into the wall facing North Pleasant Street, one summer night around 7:00 p.m. I'll take a look and then decide if it was worth it.
Ashes to ashes, towering tree to large stump
On the other ancient hand I voted "Yes" to Article #36, a zoning change for historic lots on Main Street just below the even more historic Hills House, thus increasing its value to a private landowner, who is also a Town Meeting member.
The measure passed -- but just barely -- by the required two thirds majority 120-55. And I say just barely because I almost voted no and if only three more yes votes had also changed their minds ...
The pitch to Town Meeting was the property would be sold to Amherst Media to build their new station because big evil corporate Western Mass Electric is kicking them out of their longtime location on College Street.
Amherst Media (formerly ACTV) current location to be demolished soon
And since Amherst Media is a non profit they could build there anyway, but the change in zoning means they can build on more of the property and lease some of it to other businesses. Of course if they can't raise the millions required to buy the land and build the new building, the current property owner can simply sell it to another more commercial concern.
Historic Main Street lots. Beautiful view even on a lousy day
I would have felt a lot more comfortable having a contract saying the zoning change is only for the deal with Amherst Media and if that falls through so does the zoning change, but government doesn't work that way.