Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gateway Project: Another brick in the wall

Former Frat Row

Current Frat Row (shovel ready)

The Amherst Redevelopment Authority this evening voted unanimously to issue a Request For Proposals seeking a consultant to help define and flesh out the mixed use 'Gateway Project'--so named because it connects the northern end of Amherst town center with the main entry to Umass, our double Goliath: higher education flagship and #1 employer in Western Massachusetts.

The deadline for response is December 3 with a budget cap of $30,000. The ambitious project is a joint venture between Umass, the town and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority--a separate legal entity with the compulsory power of eminent domain.

The idea of course creates a win-win situation where Umass gets more housing (a minor win) for students and faculty while the town gets a desperately needed increase in the commercial tax base (a major win) now hovering below a pathetic 10%.

Neighbors of course complained most vociferously right from the getgo--even though we have yet to propose anything.

Heated controversy ensued just after the meeting adjourned (8:37 PM) and seemed to center around "Public Comment" not being heard before the vote to issue the RFP was taken. I for one, heard nothing remotely new or compelling in the 'Public Comments' portion of the meeting to change my vote on issuing the RFP.

ARA Member Peggy Roberts, bless her heart, tried to assure the neighbors that their concerns would be heard all along the way--and, in fact, already have been.

And so it goes...

Gateway Project RFP as voted by the ARA

From: Tucker, Jonathan
To: ARA Sent: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 3:42 pm
Subject: Minutes

For the record, Ms. Russell’s assertion at last night’s meeting notwithstanding, the most recent approved ARA minutes on the Town website are those of the meetings of July 7 and 14, not the meeting of June 23.
Jonathan Tucker
Planning Director

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 3:56 pm
Subject: Re: Minutes

And for the record, all of the outstanding meeting minutes yet to be "officially approved"--including last night's--have been covered (almost instantly) on my very public blog for the whole world to see (and even Comment, if they wish).
Larry K


Anonymous said...

Another initiative destined to run head on into that immovable object known as Town Meeting, the Amherst Assembly of Angry Abutters.

Anonymous said...

This too shall not pass.

Anonymous said...

when buying a house...location, location...location and if you buy a house near a unversity expect what you get...AND DON'T COMPLAIN

LarryK4 said...

They probably got a hell of a deal...

Anonymous said...

If you can keep the cars (and parking lots) at this place to a minimum (like zero!) this would be an improvement over just about anything in the neighborhood - what are the chances of that?

- Your Friend

Ed said...

Let me see -- we had student housing that UMass students' money was used to demolish and then the land purchased by the UM students will be given to a private organization so that the town can surcharge the students living there a tax fee.

And they wonder why Massachusetts students aren't coming out to Amherst anymore...

Anonymous said...

We are responsible for UMass's problems? If only we treated the students better?

Anonymous said...

"And they wonder why Massachusetts students aren't coming out to Amherst anymore..."

They are coming in droves Ed. The place is packed to the brim and enrollment increases every year.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed, Massachusetts students arent coming to Umass? Don't you read the police logs? More MA residents than any other state listed.