Ignore disinformation, support Greylock plan
To the editor:
Lanesborough voters have an opportunity on March 15 to invest in our future by voting "Yes" on the debt exclusion for the Mt. Greylock Regional High School building project. This project has earned a commitment of support from the Massachusetts State Building Authority in the amount of $32 million, subject to this upcoming vote.
As a Lanesborough resident, I am dismayed by a vigorous 11th-hour campaign of disinformation. A few townspeople would have us believe that there are several options more favorable than the current MSBA solution. However, these distractions are unbound by the facts and they wither under scrutiny.
First among these was the attempt to reach out to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District to find a less expensive home for Lanesborough's secondary students. Parents responded in nearly unanimous opposition to the idea of trading out of a Level 1 school into a Level 3 for a few promised dollars. Furthermore, the time, cost, and regulatory difficulty of the required dissolution of the Mt. Greylock School District make this an impossibility in the near term.
Another distraction has been the demand for a much less expensive project. MSBA has approved the project based on Mt. Greylock's educational plan, not a set of extravagant luxuries. Talk of less expensive projects comes without specifics as to how millions of dollars would be saved.
A third argument is based on the hope that Drury High School will close, sending its students to attend a larger high school in Williamstown. This is based on a misunderstanding of the work of the Berkshire County Education Task Force, assuming that the representative committee will soon be making recommendations for mergers, closings, and redistricting.
John Hockridge, chair of the task force, has reiterated its position of non-interference with current MSBA projects, further saying, "school closures are not on the table now".
Finally, several town leaders suggest renegotiating cost-sharing between the two district towns to include a property tax assessment on all Williams College property. Williams, of course, is tax exempt under federal law. Assessing Williams students a "property tax" fee, as some have even suggested, is ludicrous. Saddling the private homeowner with an artificially higher tax simply because they have the college in town would be equally nonsensical.
College officials have said many times, including once more at Lanesborough's recent town meeting, that there would be no movement on a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program either. Instead, Williams has just committed $5 million to an endowment for Mt. Greylock's future capital improvement and maintenance needs.
The time is right to act on a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Lanesborough residents should ignore the distractions and the disinformation and vote YES on March 15.
Lyndon Moors, Lanesborough The writer has been a member of the Mt. Greylock School District faculty for 25 years and has been a member of the School Building Committee for 10 years.