My Turn: Let’s work together to create a bylaw that works for everyone


Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Recorder article from Dec. 26 on Leyden, “Town divided over hunting bylaw proposal,” is inflammatory and not completely accurate. Maybe most important, the Leyden bylaw proposed is a public safety bylaw, not a hunting bylaw.

The proposed bylaw was written and opened to a public hearing for discussion and potential modification. All views were welcome to be discussed, and were scheduled to be aired, except that during the overview presented by Barbara Wallace, she was booed, criticized, challenged and it became a personal and threatening ordeal instead of a discussion. No one from the opposing side had a presentation or rational outline of what could be done to address the concerns for public safety or, for that matter, even acknowledged that there are some that have fear or that their reasons for it are real or valid. No one proposed changes or had constructive ideas to share in the forum.

Those that proposed the bylaw, representing the 80 concerned residents who signed the petition to bring it forward, did so in the spirit of bringing awareness and inviting discussion and modification that would best suit the town. Examples that were put forth of what other towns are doing were taken as what would be required in Leyden and were rejected out-of-hand. Much of what was proposed brings to a central view what is already required in Massachusetts that many residents (including many who hunt) are not aware of.

Given the aggressive behavior of the people that showed up in camouflage wear, their personal attacks and their support from many outside the town and the Recorder’s coverage to date, it would certainly appear that the town is divided and that people can’t discuss or modify the bylaw for the betterment of people using the woods with firearms for hunting, and the peace of mind of those who want to be outdoors for a walk during hunting season. This is simply not true.

A committee was immediately formed and people from opposing viewpoints were invited to work on a solution that would not divide the town. Leyden people are now working to propose modifications that would acknowledge the concerns of both “sides.” It would seem that landowners want to decide on the use of their land but are also in agreement with the freedom to hunt where it is allowed. Yes, maybe some want to know who will be on the land, maybe some want to be sure that people are safe on town land, maybe some want their land open to all. These things can be accommodated in a way that is minimally burdensome to the town officials, to landowners and to hunters — we can work that out as a town working together.

This is what should be in the newspaper — how people want to work together to come to a peaceful resolution of landowners’ rights, hunter’s culture and enjoyment, and public safety on private and town land. There is a win-win solution that is made more difficult by three articles in The Recorder that highlight conflict. How can we hope for a more peaceful world if we don’t highlight attempts to reach peaceful solutions in our own towns in bucolic Western Massachusetts?

Jennifer Paris is a Leyden resident.