Leonard A. Cohen: Northampton must stop gentrification
To the editor:
Now that the dust has settled and the override has been approved, several issues remain unresolved. First, the override is actually a tax increase — that is, it is permanent. Hence each override builds upon the previous one. For relatively affluent people that’s not a major burden, but to those on fixed incomes or living close to the margins it becomes a major issue.
I formerly lived in a town in Westchester County, N.Y. One day it was announced that all the houses in our town would be reassessed using a revised formulation. When the assessment was completed, with enormous anxiety and divisiveness, taxes went up and a number of people moved out and others moved in. The equation was simple.
The old man who lived in small house nearby and read electric meters for a living, known to me as The Meter Man, sold out and ended up in a trailer park in upstate New York. In his place, and in place of other people in his position, moved more affluent people. This could happen to Northampton as well, a town unique in its well-known diversity of people and lifestyles. Unless our town leaders take this slow, but insidious, gentrification seriously, Northampton could end up looking like just all the other bland, soulless, over-achieving suburban communities that dot the American landscape.
Leonard A. Cohen