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East Longmeadow Selectmen pursue Block Grant in spite of disgruntled Planning Board

By Chris Maza Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW – The Board of Selectmen recently signed a letter of intent regarding the Community Development Block Grant, according to Selectman James Driscoll. The grant is specifically designed to address community development needs in low-income areas. Representatives of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) explained the grant’s purpose to the board at their May 31 meeting, leaving the board excited about the potential benefits of such a program. “We’re anxiously waiting to

find out what resources will be afforded us,” Driscoll said. “This is a needs-based grant that is paid for

with non-taxpayer dollars for below average income areas. It’s very flexible and its uses can be very imaginative.” Driscoll used sidewalk repair

and construction as an example of a kind of community development the town could use the grant towards.


Not everyone is pleased, Planning Board Director

Robyn Macdonald told Reminder Publications that while the Board of Selectmen’s May 31 meeting was supposed to be a joint session, the Planning Board was largely ignored in this process. Therefore, the Planning Board has remained in the dark as to what their role may be should East Longmeadow receive grant funding through this program.

“As the Board of Selectmen did not ask the Planning Board for their input at the joint meeting, the Planning Board has not discussed the program at all. It was their intention to do so at the May 31st meeting with the selectmen, however, that did not happen,” she said. “Consequently, I have no idea what my role or that of the Planning Board might be in going forward with this grant. It is my understanding that PVPC was going to ‘do it all,’ but we shall see.”

Macdonald said the Planning Board had concerns about not having a plan for the specific use of whatever grant money is received, stating the selectmen’s direction seemed “vague.” She also said the town would be entering dangerous waters by

labeling neighborhoods and communities within the town as “low-income.”

“I can tell you that the Planning Board has legitimate questions and concerns that need to be addressed with regard to the ‘target areas’ and the fact that these ‘target areas’ will be designated as low- to moderate-income concerns the board members’ sense of ethics in labeling people unfairly,” she said. “It is clear that the money can only be used for projects that will benefit low- to moderate-income households, i.e., if sidewalk projects were undertaken, 51 percent of the homes on that street would have to meet this criteria. “This could be embarrassing and the Planning Board does not want to part of anything that is going to embarrass the residents,”

Macdonald continued. Driscoll acknowledged the delicate nature of such a designation, but stressed that the term “low-income” takes on many forms, including a large part of the senior population. “That is a concern of ours as

well, but we have subsidized communities in this town, particularly senior communities and this has been a great service provided for the town,” he said. “A great deal of those people have below average incomes because their income is based purely on Social Security. “I don’t see this being a question of labeling anyone. It’s a program created for people in financial need. We’re not going to put it in neon lights or anything,” he continued.

Car show to benefit Massachusetts tornado victims

By Chris Maza Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW – All systems appear to be “Go” for a unique benefit for Western Massachusetts tornado victims. Jeff DeMary has gotten

support and approval from the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board to host the “Change the Wind” Car Show on July 9 at the site of LENOX and BluHomes Inc. on Chestnut Street to raise money for area families affected by the tornado.

“The town has been directly.”

phenomenal. They have helped me hurdle so many hoops to make this happen,” DeMary told Reminder Publications. “We’re looking to help the people who are too proud to ask for help themselves.” DeMary, a Hampden resident,

was not directly affected by the devastating whirlwind that roared through the area, but knew many in his immediate area and beyond who were.

“The tornado was a half mile

from my house,” he said. “I wanted to do something to help the victims

DeMary’s unique line of work

gave him not only the concept, but a better idea of the means needed to make it work and he expects a strong turnout. “Part of what I do is insure

classic cars,” he said. “[Classic car owners] are a group of people who still believe in the power of a handshake and helping a neighbor. I think a lot of them will find this to be a nice way to make some money for the victims.” DeMary said he expects somewhere between 200 and 300

cars from several decades to fill the LENOX parking lot as part of a day that will also feature food and refreshments. The Girl Scouts from Hampden will be selling water and soda with all proceeds also going to victims. Anyone interested in

showcasing their car need not register in advance, but should be prepared to pay a $10 entry fee. Spectators can expect to pay a $5 entry fee with a $10 price for families.

DeMary said the money will not go to a charity such as the Red

Cross, but rather will be delivered personally to families selected to receive aid. A Web site is being created at which victims can quietly and confidentially request aid.

That Web site will be

publicized on the Reminder Publications Facebook page as soon as it is launched. A committee of four, including

DeMary, will make the decisions on who will receive money. He said that by working in insurance, he knew who to talk to and what to look for when determining need.

Public library hosts ‘One World, Many Stories’ Summer Reading and Read-to-Me program

EAST LONGMEADOW – The East Longmeadow Public Library is hosting One World, Many Stories, the Summer Reading and Read-to- Me program through July 29. Travel along with children of

all ages by time machine to the Seven Wonders of the World. Experience first hand the history and culture of these amazing places. Each week features a different, fabulous tour with games, art

projects, and activities – and of course all are designed to help children earn raffle tickets for the stupendous Pick-Your-Own-Prize Raffle!

This year participants will

register on-line by visiting y and then click on One World, Many Stories 2011 Summer Reading Program or by visiting

Those who’ve registered may pick up their Fast Number and a Time Travel Passport Kit that will contain everything they need to participate in the program. For every hour that participants either read independently or get read to, they’ll will earn one raffle ticket for the Pick-Your-Own-Prize Raffle. Prizes can be also be viewed at This year each participant who

reads for at least 20 hours will receive a paperback book of their choice. There will also be a special raffle for parents, caregivers, or any adults for an iPad 2. Tickets will be $1 each and proceeds will benefit the Children’s Program Fund. Many special programs are

being offered during the reading program, but patrons must be registered in the One World, Many Stories Reading Adventure to attend

any of these programs. Registration, if needed is one week before the program. All reading is done at home or on vacation at one’s own pace.

For further information, call

the Children’s Department at 525- 5400 ext. 1506. Those interested in the program may also visit or stop by the library, 60 Center Square.




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