Arnold Levinson: Needs or wants for Northampton?

Northampton City Hall

Northampton City Hall STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 05-28-2024 4:21 PM

Modified: 05-29-2024 2:33 PM


The Gazette has featured articles about a lack of funding for public education. Layoffs of personnel, curriculum changes and special education programs are about to suffer. Yet despite this, the newspaper has also highlighted the “need” to build a Resilience Center and “Picture Main Street,” a plan to redo Main Street, each costing millions of dollars. The contrast between “want and need” could not be more stark.

Picture Main Street has been presented as an opportunity to address safety and environmental concerns. I question whether this plan is necessary. Pedestrian safety can be improved with crossing lights. Bike lanes already exist for access to the downtown, and requiring cyclists to walk their bikes through the Main Street area would not be a hardship while it eliminates the need for bike lanes.

Second, I think it is time for the town to insist traffic laws be enforced. Speeding has become an epidemic not only downtown, but also through the side streets. It’s common to see cars race through an intersection to beat the light. Rarely are these cars ticketed. If Northampton got the reputation for being proactive in its pursuit of safety, it would help everyone.

Third, most public works construction projects require more time to complete than is projected. At least three years is allocated for Picture Main Street, with over 50 parking spaces and 20-plus trees must be sacrificed. Memories of King street construction and present Damon Road and I-91 projects are poignant reminders of the problems that lie ahead. The effect on downtown businesses will be devastating.

So the question to be asked is should our precious tax dollars be spent for a “need or a want”? I urge the city government to rethink these proposals and reopen the process for community input.

Arnold Levinson

Northampton

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