Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Library Vote: I Voted

Yes.  I voted YES for the Library, and before I get into a description of the goings-on at the Special Town Meeting, I would like to thank those who came out to vote.  As my husband likes to remind me, democracy in action is a great, invigorating thing, even when it doesn't go the way you'd like.  More than 1000 people showed up last night to debate and vote.

My condolences to the Director and Staff of the Library, the Friends, the Trustees, and all those who volunteered time and money toward the Clapp for Community Campaign -- and also to the entire town -- half of which does not even recognize the importance and worth of what they lost last night in failing to invest in the future of the town.

The meeting began with general articles about roads and budgets; they were all approved with fairly limited discussion.  The article on the library was introduced around 7:50pm by the Moderator.  Selectman Reardon presented the article and spoke for it.  It was then spoken against by the majority of the Town Finance Committee, spoken for by the minority of the Finance Committee.  The head of the Clapp for Community Campaign gave details and answers to questions that had been asked in previous weeks.  The floor was opened for the townspeople to speak.  A motion to make the vote a secret ballot was declined.  A few members of the community spoke for and against the article.  Selectman Aponte spoke against.

At about 8:40 a motion was made that further discussion end and the vote be taken.  This motion passed, and the vote was made; a 2/3 vote was required to pass.  The vote was vocal, and the Moderator declared that the Nos won, but a recount was demanded, and this time the vote was made and counted by raised ballot.  The Nos carried the win with ~480 votes; the Yeses had just over 400.  More than 100 people in the gymnasium did not vote.

Emotions were high, and there were more than a few tears at the close of the evening.  However, according to the Clapp for Community website, the campaign for an upgraded and expanded building will continue, and I can only hope that success is found.  Having a strong library is a powerful benefit to the community -- it supports education, finance, business, growth, recreation, families, individuals, adults, children, and more.  I'm saddened and sorry that more of the residents of Belchertown could not see their way to improving their town by supporting the expanded library, and I wish luck and hope to the Clapp Memorial Library as it seeks alternatives.

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