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The Ashfield News
Ashfield, Massachusetts
February 1, 2021     The Ashfield News
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February 1, 2021

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GREG RUTH iiThe Ashfield News AN ALL-VOLUNTEER NON-PROFIT MONTHLY NEWSPAPER SINCE 1976 VOL MMXXI N0 2 FEBRUARY 2021 FREE TO RESIDENTS Tower Foes, Backers Sound Off; Project Goes to Third Hearing BY BILL SCAIFE The tower would not have won a beauty contest for most of the 70 residents who tuned into the Planning Board’s virtual hearing Ian. 20 on the proposed cell phone monopole near the intersection of Murray Road and Route 116 (Conway Road). Most participants objected to what one person called an “eyesore.” Others called Murray Road one of the most beautiful views in Ashfield, one that would be ruined by the I monopole proposed for Robertson family farmland. Still others worried about a 120-foot tower’s potentialeffect on values of land and homes within sight of the project. But others, like Ashfield police Chief Beth ' Bezio, while acknowledging the tower could have an effect on the landscape, said it would enhance communications and safety along a winding, dark stretch of Conway Road. “If there is a car accident there, drivers would have no easy way to contact emergency services,” she said. For that reason, she said, she supports the proposal. Michael Epstein, of 527 Main St., said he supports the tower on the grounds that Ashfield has an aging population without enough new “replacement” residents moving to town. “Younger people expect widespread cell service throughout the community,” he said. Three hours into the meeting, and with the number of viewers dropping, Planning Board Chair Alan Rice asked for a vote from other board members to call it a night and continue the hearing until Feb. 10 at p.m., earlier than the usual start time of 7:30 pm. Residents of six households near the proposed site submitted a SO—page memoran- dum and letters questioning the siting of the tower. Peter Curtis of Murray Road, one of the neighbors of the proposed tower site, called it a potential “eyesore” in an email to Democracy Vigil By candlelight on January 7, about two dozen people gathered in small groups on the Ashfield Common, one day after a mob marched from the White House to the US. Capitol, urged to do so by then—President Trump, with scores entering the center of American democracy and forcing lawmakers to go into hiding. Messages during the Ashfield vigil included support for the Constitutional amendment that governs the removal of a president, for Black Lives Matter and for punishment of those who rampaged through the halls of Congress. HEALTH PERMIT 137 fitfifiI‘lklkfllfififllfllflliitfifill‘ijED phi,mm...,I.i..|,|.....|,iMurmurii|,|,|m|.,i.m, WA WW? PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PITTSFIELD MA 01201 g? §§§ PAGE 4 INSIDE comp-19 Find current numbers for the virus in Ashfield and the surrounding towns. Plus what responsibility does each of us have in taking the vaccine. It is not only to ourselves. nearby residents and said the memorandum provided ample reasons fOr denying the request. For a full copy of this-memorandum, site maps and other documents, visit ashfield. org/2416/Cell—Tower—Application. The site would include a single tower protected by a chain link fence and a gravel access road for utility workers. The tower would rise about 1,150 feet at mean sea level at that site and would carry nine antennas to provide coverage in all directions. Centerline Communications, a builder of cell towers, submitted theapplication for a special permit to construct a tower 120 feet high rather than the 80 feet allowed by town bylaw. AT&T would be the owner. Several reasons have been given for a tower height of 120 feet, which requires a special permit from the Planning Board, rather than the 80 feet allowed under town by laws. ' I One is that at that height, the tower could expand coverage in South Ashfield to as far as Creamery Road, West Street and a small portion of Baptist Corner Road, although in the outlying areas the signal would probably be sufficient for voice communication but not data transmission. AT8(T estimates that some level of cover— , age would reach 436 households in Ashfield and Conway. Without the additional height, more towers would be needed to provide the same coverage, AT&T has argued. Another point AT&T has tried to make is that at a height of 120 feet, it could lease or sell some of the tower space to other carriers at a useful height, helping AT8<T defray some of the construction costs. Harry Dodson, a landscape architect and Ashfield resident, said a tower of 120 feet probably would mar the scenic beauty around Murray Road, but a tower of 80 feet would likely blend into the landscape. In addition to continued on page WEATHER Ice Fishing They are out there in numbers coming from near and far. Our columnist interviews some who say they are "definitely a different breed". They love the cold winter and await the tip—up's flag. ‘ PAGE 5 GREGORY THORP LIBRARY Temporary Closure , The library is getting a facelift. Reopening will be February 17. In the meantime get ready for its return and check out the many new acquisitions for readers, listeners and viewers of all ages. PAGE 8 Select Board, Finance, Committee Say Time Not 'Right To Spend Millions BY DAVID KULP In letters to the Senior Center Expansion Committee and Ashfield’s Council on Aging, the Select Board and Finance Committee said they would not support the Senior Center expansion project. For several years the Senior Center has championed a new locatiOn for the organiza- tion that serves Ashfield, Buckland and Shelburne. The expansion committee identified several locations in Shelburne Falls that could be renovated and also considered constructing a new building. As part of that effort the Senior Center has recently pursued the formation of an official district that would be funded by the towns. The district would borrow, own and operate a new facility. The center had planned for a vote for the district at each member community’s Annual Town Meeting. Now, those efforts are in doubt, after Ashfield’s elected officials rejected the plan. Qflfl Larder fifi Ardor Two Ways to Cook a Duck Egg. (And More Ways Not to Raise Ducks) Editor’s note: The Ashfield News is adding this regular column, Larder Ardor, on cooking and 3%,... . e..- Hilltown farm life. BY CARTER I. CARTER I have always loved ducks, though of late I have felt they do not reciprocate. Every morning I wake up, the very picture of devotion, and trudge down to the winter coop for our ducks and chickens. The coop has the best view on the farm, a wall of salvaged windows facing south to the hills, and without fail the chickens have arrayed at their window, waiting to greet me and peck the snow off my boots. They are, to all appearances, delighted. The ducks, by contrast, greet my arrival with all the enthusiasm of Romans realizing the Visigoths are sacking the gate. They live in the far end of the coop so cannot see me coming, and are warned of my arrival by their guard goose, Killer Mike. Allegedly, geese COMMENTARY It Takes , All Kinds Chipmunks, groundhogs, blue jays, beavers — marauders of every persuasion, human and otherwise. Draw your comparisons where you may, PAGE 5 ; Senior Center Project Nixed ‘ In their letter, the officials wrote, “while we support the Senior Center’s continuing focus on planning for the future for our aging population, we cannot commit to funding a building in another town, nor are we prepared to commit to a new West County Senior Services District.” At a meeting on January 4, Doug Field, chair of both the Ashfield Council on Aging and the Senior Center Board of Directors, said he was shocked by the letter, but Select Board member Todd Olanyk said that the decision was consistent with discussions and findings over the last several years. Select Board member Tom Carter said that the letter should not have come as a surprise, noting that the panels’ concerns were consistent with those expressed at a multi-town meeting at Buckland—Shelburne Elementary in Septem— ber 2019. Select Board Chair Steve Gougeon said that the town is interested in providing greater services in Ashfield. And Gougeon said that, given the difficult economy and pandemic emergency, a major capital project wasn’t financially feasible until 2022 or 2023. Field suggested that the rejection was premature because a cost proposal had never continued on page I LARRY PAHNASS Carter]. Carter holds one of his small farm’s ducks, a Silver Appleyard they call Mrs. Appleyard. honk; in my experience, Killer Mike screams, a feathered Paul Revere. He is sounding the alarm as I open the ducks’ door, and at the sight of me they are in instant disarray, running top speed in all directions to escape this hulking monster who feeds and waters them and tells them he really does love them, he pro'mises. I It has been thus from the beginning. When the ducks arrived this spring we had just moved into the farm ourselves; we had no equipment to speak of, to say nothing of the faintest idea what to do with birds. continued on page Cutoff Date Feb. 15 for Broadband Connection Subsidy Residents who Request Service After that Date Must Pay Full Price for Installation ' BY DAVID KULP February 15 is the last day that Ashfielders can register for the town’s municipal brOadband internet service without paying the full installation price. The vast majority of residents are now eligible for free installation. The town agreed to subsidize installations up to $3,000. Residents who are on the fence must make a decision in the next two weeks whether to sign up or forgo that subsidy. The minimum installation cost is $613. That cost is for an overhead connection of 150 feet or less. Costs rise .for longer connec— tions or underground service. The Select Board decided on January 4 that the subsidy program will end on Feb 15. Residents who register for service after that date must pay the full costs. For those with costs exceeding the $3,000 subsidy the town now offers 60-month financing, but that offer will no longer be available. Residents can still receive new fiber optic installations after February 15. To register for service, go to the town’s website at ashfield.org or call Whip City Fiber at 413-485-1251. To date, 642 residents have activated service. Roughly 75 percent of residents overall but only about 50 percent of residents in the village — have taken service. * Village residents have access to DSL as an alternative.