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I thought leaders were smarter

Oct. 23, 2013 |

The Longmeadow planning board, opting against the support of an accessory apartment bylaw, made me think that residents have been poorly represented. The idea of accessory apartments is to keep families together and provide affordable housing to anyone such as a young graduate student entering the work force, a single mom or dad, an aging family member, or whomever. I was let down by Michael Clark’s (school committee chair) comments: “with affordable housing comes a higher possibility of students with special education needs and an increase in students who are not prepared to excel at the level students in Longmeadow excel.” Has Longmeadow become an ableist society? It sounds like he is saying that we treat non-disabled students who excel in Longmeadow as the standard, and that people who have disabilities or learning differences must fit into that norm or else keep their distance. Is this a comment as to how our current learning disabled population is being treated here? Is he systematically excluding those with various disabilities from living here? His statements unfairly categorize student populations based on learning differences and income levels. He makes Longmeadow out to be a town who believes our social and economic class is superior to all others. BTW, that is the definition of “classism.” I would also like to know why Dan Lynanaugh said: “having apartments available in town would allow those from other towns and cities to ‘cherry pick’ educational opportunities in Longmeadow.” Dan, if you were a single mom of an autistic child looking for the best school match, an affordable living arrangement, and a location that met your work needs, wouldn’t you want the same rights and educational opportunities for your child as anyone else? The last time I heard the right to education is law in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of income level. And to Jane Newman who said that supporting accessory apartments would “urbanize” Longmeadow I say how? We’re not talking about building skyscrapers, malls or big businesses. We’re talking about helping people and helping families. What’s wrong with building diverse and inclusive communities? It sounds like the word “urbanization” is being used to justify a discriminatory attitude towards certain groups of people. Even our police chief said: “The bylaw change would definitely change who would be coming into town (casino workers).” What century is this? Is that a crime? He states they will “come and go at all times” as a concern. Doctors on call do it, firefighters work all shifts, and factory workers work various shifts as well – yes, factory workers actually live in Longmeadow, too . Why pick on casino workers who are trying to earn a living? Is it possible that residents will eventually be required to have certain job titles in order to live here? Bottom line is that these leader’s comments were filled with social “isms:” ageism, classism and ableism to name a few. I thought they were smarter. Kim Gebeau-Mantho Longmeadow

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