Why didn’t Amherst College trumpet from the top of The Notch (which they own) the revelation they’re now paying Amherst $16,792 annually on the Dakin Estate—especially when Umass just absorbed Frat Row, forever draining $32,309 from town coffers?
And why NO effort whatsoever from Amherst College to promote the Zoning Change coming before Town Meeting next month (that requires a daunting two-thirds vote, and already has tree huger Selectman Rob Kusner and aging-activist-with-time-on-his-hands Vince O’Connor opposing it) allowing expansion of their quaint and cozy Lord Jeffery Inn?
Amherst College blog (Amerst.com: acknowledging how townies pronounce it) says when it concerns the $1.3 BILLION endowment, the Trustees mimic laconic graduate Silent Cal Coolidge: “Amherst College officials have traditionally been far quieter about such matters, releasing audited figures just once a year in August and steadfastly refusing to provide quarterly or unaudited figures.”
And their Public Relation’s folks spin far less stories per news cycle than their counterparts at Umass. For instance, not nearly enough has been written about the good deed Amherst College performed donating land to Habitat for Humanity creating four, taxpaying, “affordable housing” units in Amherst.
Perhaps Amherst College simply doesn’t want exposure about the Dakin Estate (and perhaps the blunder to have failed finding some sort of academic use) because they don’t want town officials auditing their vast holdings for perhaps another swath or two of property that may not fit the Academic Exemption or Chapter 61-B reduction.
My lovely wife Donna (with NO time on her hands) recently became a member of the Town Commercial Relations Committee that has met jointly 3 or 4 times now with the Planning Sub Committee on Zoning (Yes, Amherst has far too many committees) and she thinks some folks want Town Meeting to hold hostage the zoning change in exchange for other payments from Amherst College.
Short sighted of course, because in this particular case, what's good for Amherst College is GREAT for Amherst. If the valuation of the Lord Jeff doubles it pays twice the taxes to Amherst plus the spin-off effect promoting downtown business activity.
The time for Amherst College to, unconditionally, step up is quickly approaching. Our timid Town Manager warns that when the train wreck they call the Umass “strategic agreement” is completed (now bogged down because of my Ethics Complaint; and I only hope it becomes derailed) he plans to engage Amherst and Hampshire Colleges.
Of course at this point, either College would simply point out the Umass "deal" really only amounts to $75,000 in new money to Amherst. And since Umass has 25,500 students, that’s only a paltry $3 per head.
At that ridiculous rate, Amherst College and Hampshire College pays $5,000 each. Chump change indeed.