Judge nixes review of signatures in Jones Library case

  • Jones Library in Amherst GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2021 5:48:39 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Hampshire Superior Court judge will not be examining more than 1,000 signatures submitted to the Amherst town clerk’s office last spring.

With the Town Council this month putting the $36.3 million project to expand and renovate the Jones Library to a referendum on the Nov. 2 town election, Judge Richard J. Carey last week canceled a Monday hearing on a motion for summary judgment filed against the town’s Board of Registrars.

Plaintiffs who were part of the voter veto petition were aiming to compel Carey to look at the 1,088 signatures they turned in after only 842 signatures were certified. They had needed 864 signatures to reach 5% of registered voters and force a townwide vote on the project.

Even with the referendum scheduled, plaintiffs had continued to pursue the lawsuit, arguing that it was about protecting voting rights by not wrongfully rejecting signatures and depriving voters of their First Amendment rights.

But Carey denied an attempt to compel the Board of Registrars to issue a certificate stating that enough signatures had been collected, and indicated that the lawsuit is now moot because the referendum will happen.

“Because the plaintiffs will obtain the same outcome without the injunction, I conclude that the plaintiffs will not suffer irreparable harm from denial of their motion for preliminary injunction,” Carey wrote.

In April, the council voted 10-2, with one abstention, to authorize $15.75 million in borrowing to renovate and expand the Amity Street building for the first time since an addition was completed in 1993. This borrowing matches a $13.87 million construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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