Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moving forward with Umass partnership

Mixed use block (retail on ground, housing above) owned by Dartmouth College in Hanover NH town center

While most--if not all--of the immediate neighbors may view it as "Sherman's March to the Sea" the Amherst Redevelopment Authority met again last night to continue plowing forward with the Gateway Project, a spiffy economic joint undertaking connecting the north end of Amherst town center with the heart of our flagship's campus. Yeah, that would be UMass/Amherst.

Interestingly, outspoken critic and of course next door neighbor John Fox wondered if Umass was really "invested" in the project. Well... they are giving away property that cost them $2.5 million only four years ago. I would call that invested.

And it would certainly not be unreasonable of them to, you know, make a condition or two regarding terms for the exchange--as in more housing for students, who are coming. With or without the Gateway Project.

But with this project they can avoid living in slums that have sprouted like weeds in neighborhoods all around town over the past 40 years to prey on those incoming nubies.

And with this project the town has tremendous control over the look and feel of the entire development. For the first time in my aged memory Umass wants to partner with the town (via the Amherst Redevelopment Authority) on an equal basis. They are the proverbial 1000 pound gorilla and they could do whatever they damn well please with the former Frat Row.

Our recent road trip to Hanover NH, where Dartmouth College stepped up as an Angel Investor in the downtown proves it can work. And it only takes one white crow to disprove the theory all crows are black.

Before and after photos of how it worked in Hanover NH

ARA and Select Board member Aaron Hayden reports

Request for proposals on Gateway Project, about to go out to the private sector


Anonymous said...

Yet another idea due to head down the conveyor belt towards Town Meeting where it will be pecked to death by the 1/3 + 1 vote minority of Grim Reaper members who get elected term after term.

Lucy is placing the football down as we speak and all of us Larry Shaffer-inspired Charlie Browns are moving forward to make the kick. We all know what happens next. And so it shall be forever and ever and ever, amen, as long as Town Meeting stumbles on.

Shaffer has a way out of this recurring nightmare that the rest of us don't. It's called End of Contract.

Hope is a Gateway drug.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many town meeting members own some of the beautiful rental properties in town?


Anonymous said...


Nah. Everything is going to be


Hope + Prozac + $$ = high as an Amherst kite.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Shaffer recently submitted a memo to the Select Board assessing himself.

"I'm very happy with my work and very pleased and proud to be town manager in this community," Shaffer said.

Working with municipal employees, town staff and boards and committees, Shaffer said he has brought innovation and creativity to the town organization, sought grants for studying regional emergency dispatching and pushed for legislation that would allow UMass to participate in it, developed the concept of the Gateway Redevelopment on North Pleasant Street and put its oversight into the hands of Amherst Redevelopment Authority, and used collective bargaining to reduce costs, setting the table for successful passage of a Proposition 2½ override vote.

As far as areas to improve, Shaffer acknowledges sometimes being naive about public reaction.

"I occasionally say and do things that don't meet with the best political receptivity," he said.

Is Larry Shaffer Amherst's own Barak Obama?

Anonymous said...

Any person like Larry Shaffer tasked to attempt to expand the Town's tax base is doomed to be a tragic figure.

Sissyphus, Job, Jude the Obscure: take your pick.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, but this time he has the ARA on his side. And if we could get the Parking Garage built we can do anything.

Anonymous said...

...Umass is pulling out of the regional dispatch grant....

Anonymous said...

Ok, add the ARA, put all of you on a big luxury ocean liner and steer you into the North Atlantic. (Larry, would you like to be played by Leonardo DiCaprio?)

Change metaphors if you wish: the result remains the same sometime about May or June 2011.

Parking Garage? That would be Half-a-Parking Garage.

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry,

I guess Ron Moronowicz is done cleaning out MM.

What did he do with the modulars?

I heard he was scrapping the ones at the middle school and moving the MM ones up there.

According to this, that'll cost the town $140,000.

What can you tell us?