On March 11, let’s seize this opportunity to save ‘Something Special’

To the Editor:

Shortly after we moved to Amherst, as my wife and I talked about finding some fun playtime activities for our youngest child to do while his older siblings were in school, we’d occasionally ask him if he’d like to do “something special.” On well more than one occasion, it would mean a trip to the Cemetery Fields for some fun playtime on the playground and fields there.

Over time, and still being just a toddler, our son came to know Cemetery Fields under his own shorthand for a good time: “The Something Special Playground.”

For a few years, all he had to do was say, “Something Special,” and we knew immediately where he wanted to go. As he continues to grow, we still cherish fun times on the playground and, increasingly, on the baseball diamond that has hosted youth games there for years, as well as the grassy fields that were measured out temporarily at times last summer for an Amherst Recreation Department’s first flag football program there.

Now comes the question on our March 11 Amherst town voting ballots about whether this land – in its entirety – should be made into a cemetery, or whether it should be explored for its potential dual-use as both a cemetery and recreation area for our town’s youth. Today’s current and highest use of the land known as Cemetery Fields is indeed of a recreational nature.

Despite the intended future use of the land in question as a cemetery only, its actual use over much of the past decade has transformed this parcel into one of the most valuable recreational assets in the town of Amherst.

On Tuesday, March 11, Amherst voters must decide whether to transfer the powers of the Cemetery Commission to the town Selectmen in a bid to recognize the dual-use potential of the Cemetery Fields, or to simply let the land become a cemetery for a handful of town citizens who might wish to be buried there in a year.

The choice is clear: Let the Cemetery Fields lapse into the hands of the Cemetery Trustees for its exclusive use as a cemetery. Or encourage the dual use of the land for recreation and cemetery uses. As a voter, you can encourage this dual use by voting in favor of Warrant Articles 26 and 40 at the ballot box on March 11.

Please join me and the Friends of Cemetery Fields in this bid to preserve “Something Special” for current and future generations of Amherst children who don’t now get a vote to save this important recreation space.