Residents declare Sunderland a ‘safe community,’ approve full Town Meeting warrant

  • From left, Sunderland Selectboard members Christyl Drake-Tremblay, David Pierce and Chair Tom Fydenkevez at Saturday’s Annual Town Meeting, held outside the Town Offices. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2021 12:42:20 PM

SUNDERLAND — Residents at Annual Town Meeting approved the entire warrant, including joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District and designating the town as a “safe community.”

Gathered outside behind the Town Offices, citizens approved an article that opted the town into a regional mosquito control district that would spray insecticide in only targeted areas. This measure allows the town to opt out of a program offered through the state Department of Agricultural Resources that would target the entire town with aerial spraying.

Selectboard Chair Tom Fydenkevez said joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District would allow the town to collect and monitor mosquitoes and take action if they are found to be carrying any diseases like Zika or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

“Basically, joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District would allow us to collect data,” Fydenkevez said. “By opting out (of the state’s program), it allowed us better control to share data with the community. … We want anything done in our community to be based on data.”

Residents also approved a citizen’s petition declaring the town to be a “safe community,” meaning Sunderland police officers cannot function as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

“The citizens of Sunderland would like you to know that no matter where you’re from, if you are a resident, or visitor, or are just passing through town, you are welcome here,” the petition reads. “Sunderland police shall not act as immigration officers and will not honor non-criminal, civil immigration detainer requests. In all interactions with Sunderland law enforcement and town employees, you will be treated with respect.”

Jessica Corwin, who was called on by the moderator to explain the citizen’s petition, and Police Chief Erik Demetropoulos said the proposal would not affect any current police operations. The petition also states the bylaw would not prohibit any law enforcement officer or town employee from sending or receiving information regarding citizenship or immigration status to or from local, state or federal agencies.

“This will not change any actions of our Police Department,” Corwin said.

Some residents asked about the necessity of this bylaw considering it wouldn’t cause any direct effects, but the article was overwhelmingly approved.

The budget for fiscal year 2022 was approved at roughly $9 million, a 2.78 percent increase from the current year.

The town also approved $200,000 for the construction of a new playground at Sunderland Elementary School, but Principal Ben Barshefsky said the school may not even need all the funds if grants are approved.

Money to replace handguns for the Police Department was also approved. Demetropoulos said the department’s guns have not been replaced since 2008 and their reliability is not at the level it should be.

Chris Larabee can be reached
or 413-930-4081.


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