Leverett voters get down to business at TM, election; resolution on tribal lands withdrawn

  • Leverett voters meet outside the elementary school for Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2021 3:55:00 PM

LEVERETT — Voters at Annual Town Meeting on Saturday approved every article on the warrant as read, with the exception of the final article on a resolution concerning Native Americans, which was withdrawn by the petitioner.

The article aimed to acknowledge that the land Leverett occupies was taken from the Nonotuck and Pocumtuck tribes. However, it was withdrawn by petitioner Jim Perkins after explaining that he would like to revisit the resolution to develop one that is in keeping with the wishes of tribal people in the area.

Annual Town Meeting took place Saturday morning, beginning with the nomination process for the town election, outside Leverett Elementary School.

In other business, voters approved a $6.5 million budget for fiscal year 2022, representing a 3.9 percent ($247,711) increase over the current budget.

Voters also approved the transfer of $200,000 from the stabilization fund to purchase a new single-axle dump truck and plow for the Highway Department.

According to Highway Superintendent Matt Boucher, the current truck is two years past its 15-year life expectancy and is experiencing “serious mechanical and electrical failures.”

Wesley Goscenski, secretary for the Capital Planning Committee, explained to voters that the purpose of the stabilization fund is to save for necessary purchases such as the one needed by the Highway Department.

“We have saved money … for this purpose,” he said.

Voters also approved the transfer of a total of $28,419 from two different accounts for the purchase of a new set of Jaws of Life for the Fire Department.

“The set they have now … is old and outdated,” Goscenski said.

One article that did result in a short discussion was Article 15, a resolution that aimed to ensure that open space remains between the Leverett Elementary School and the Leverett Library, by requiring any change of use or installation of structures be brought to Town Meeting voters for approval.

The resolution, brought forth by Diane Crowe of the Recreation Committee, stemmed from concern for a proposed use of a portion of the land for solar arrays.

Although the article ultimately passed, with residents in support of maintaining recreation space in town, there were questions as to the purpose the resolution serves.

“I think what we need is more flexibility,” said Tim Shores, noting that he doesn’t imagine there are people lining up with proposals contrary to recreational purposes.

A number of comments were made with respect to the solar array proposal itself, but Moderator Lawrence Farber redirected the discussion back to the substance of the resolution.

And finally, Article 25, which was also included by petition, was a resolution in opposition to state subsidies and incentives for biomass plants.

“Many of us are concerned about the climate and the effects of fossil fuels,” said petitioner Ann Ferguson.

One voter proposed three amendments — all of which pertained to the language of the resolution — though none of them carried after a vote. The resolution itself, however, passed, though not unanimously, as some voters argued for the use of forests locally to provide for families.

Election results

After a nomination process at the start of Annual Town Meeting, residents were asked to cast votes for two contested races.

In the race for two seats on the Selectboard, a one-year term and a three-year term, Melissa Colbert and incumbent Julie Shively won with 238 votes and 165 votes, respectively. They were two of four names on the ballot.

In the race for a three-year term on the Finance Committee, Nancy Grossman, who had served previously on the committee and is a former treasurer/collector, won with 127 votes.

“I’m very interested in municipal finance and would like another opportunity to serve,” she said after receiving the nomination.

Other residents who won election are:

■Board of Assessors, three-year term — Jim Staros

■Board of Health, three-year term (two seats) and a one-year term (one seat) — Mary Ryan, John Hillman and Nick Venti

■Constable, three-year term — Brian Emond

■Library trustee, three-year term (two seats) — Rachel Flint and Lisa Sullivan

■Moderator, one-year term — Lawrence Farber

■Planning Board, five-year term (two seats) — Tim Shores and Richard Natthorst

■School Committee, three-year term (two seats) and a one-year term — Jess Rocheleau, Aaron Buford and Becky Tew

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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