Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NIMBYs at the Gate(way)

John Fox on the attack at ARA meeting earlier this month.

So Umass neighbor John (crazy-like-a) Fox seems spoiling for a fight at every opportunity--even when he has to s-t-r-e-t-c-h it a bit in order to engage.

He attended the 12/15 zoning forum (fair enough, as it was advertised as a "pubic forum") and joined forces with other anti-development BANANAs: (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) to rail against anything remotely resembling progress--especially the Gateway Project, a once-in-a-generation joint enterprise between Umass, the town and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-state agency with a proven track record at urban redevelopment dating back 40 years.

And since the ARA did not attend the forum, Mr. Fox made sure to forward his 7-page diatribe to our entire 5-person committee (four elected by town voters and one appointed by the Governor) via Planning Director Jonathan Tucker, even though Mr. Fox has our individual email addresses.

Today's Springfield Republican article should answer what appears to be his central question asking where the "new" Town Manager John Musante stands on the this long overdue coalition/partnership with Umass, an entity where Mr. Fox was once employed.

Indeed his location to campus, only an underhand pitch away, must have been awfully convenient back then.

Mr. Fox purchased his home in December, 1983 when the total student population was 25,833-- not much more than the 27,569 hosted today. And if memory serves (since I was attending the University back then) the fashionable nickname at that time--deservedly so--was "Zoomass." An image the University has worked hard to change over the past decade, with good results.

So it's not like Mr. Fox can argue the real estate agent never told him about this giant entity that looms over his frontyard. And at that time "Frat Row"--at the entrance to his street--was in its absolute glory, with about 200 rowdy kids who loved to party hardy. Former "Frat Row", with depressing shadow cast by NIMBYs

Neither is it likely that this intimate close proximity to Umass has hurt his property value any, since Mr. Fox's humble abode is currently valued at $546,800 and he only paid $109,100 twenty-seven years ago when a dollar was worth 2.1 times what it is today, or $229,110 in current dollars. Not a bad ROI.

Last night Mr. Fox carried his cacophonous campaign to the final Select Board meeting of the year, where he submitted a petition (how very 60s of him) requesting the town stand down on spending $30,000 for a consultant to help facilitate the "visioning process"--a very long, involved public input period, which I'm sure Mr. Fox will take every advantage of to press his one-note protest song.

The ARA has never said student housing at Gateway would be "substantially" or "primarily" undergraduate housing. We are saying the University needs additional housing (undergrads, grads, faculty) and Amherst's downtown desperately needs an economic boost, and our anemic less-than-10% commercial tax base could use some reinforcements.

This mixed use, privately developed project substantially dresses up the main approach to Umass and will be--as Umass deputy chancellor Todd Diacon has stated many times--"a win win."

Umass gets upscale housing that will provide much needed competition to the local slum lords who take advantage of students by packing them into one-family houses in residential neighborhoods, while the town gets a much needed increase in the commercial tax base, and the downtown expands seamlessly into the heart of Umass via an attractive corridor.

The $30,000 consultant cost is not town tax money, it is ARA money. In fact, Amherst has no control over the ARA, although we do work closely together with the town for the common good--something these noisy neighbors should try sometime.

ACTV did not air live the first few minutes of Mr. Fox's diatribe. When they get around to rebroadcast, if they air the entire monologue, I will reedit.

Disclaimer: Although I'm a longtime member of the ARA, Umass graduate, currently a Continuing Education student and 5th generation Amherst resident, I speak here, as I always do, strictly for myself (and for the hard-pressed taxpayers of this town) using that cherished American ideal known as the First Amendment.


Anonymous said...

larry....it is a pretty obvious conflict of interest making this post as a commitee member...loaded with sarcasm and insults. as a public servant you should be more factual and less inuendo spewing.

so what if he made a good investment, is that a crime?

and the fake valuations given by the town is the only way that hole of Amherst can generate revenue...due to poor management for sure. fox certainly pays enough taxes in town to have his say. the taxes are fucking outrageous there, and was a big reason I lost my house, not to mention the 250th fuckasco. I liked Amherst a lot before I figured out what a buch of assholes run that place.

stick to the facts, gain some credibility.


LarryK4 said...

Actually Bach, try to pay attention.

And maybe read the entire post.

And then you would notice the disclaimer at the end, which absolves any possible conflict of interest--especially since I don't get paid for this, or being an ARA member and own no property anywhere near the impact zone.

Anybody reading this blog as long as you have show know better.

Anonymous said...

the disclaimer is what nailed it for me,actually, after I read through your diatribe.

speaking as yourself is one thing, but you are on the commitee, and a disclaimer does not admonish that


LarryK4 said...

Well then by all means, feel free to file a complaint with the State Ethics Commission.

Unfortunately for Cowardly Anon Nitwits, you will have to actually sign your name.

me said...

that was me


Cowardly Anon Nitwit said...

Maybe a new acronym is called for. "PIMBY" for "Please In My Back Yard."
Ask yourself, Larry, do certain people have something to gain from the gateway project? How many of them live on Butterfield Terrace? Will they be selling to the highest bidder once the neighborhood turns into Hobart Lane with storefronts?
Mr. Fox and his neighbors might just be onto something. Their property values went up despite frat row. Why are they upset now? Maybe they see that the Gateway Project really will destroy the character of their neighborhood. Should they sell now and get out? Or should they work hard to insure that this land grab doesn't turn into a debacle, while carpetbagging developers (and their extended families) manipulate the town committees and line their pockets.
Personally, I trust you and the inbred ZBA and ARA not one bit. If it was me, I'd fight like hell too.
One of the best things about this town is its people. (Even you, Larry!) And, your neighbors, the good people you love to taunt, insult, and ridicule. Why don't you chill out and let the neighbors have their "day in court."
IMHO - Democracy is slow and ugly, but it is the American way and it is the Amherst way. If this project is a good idea today, it will still be a good idea tomorrow. Lay off the hostility for a while, it'll feel good, trust me!

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, the same rational could be applied to the downtown Parking Garage...and gee, 25 years later, it was still a good idea.

Actually, if you look at the names of those 176 neighbors who I "love to taunt, insult, and ridicule" who signed the petition you will note many of them were involved in the parking garage obstruction.

I'm way more amused than angry.

Anonymous said...

I still like Mass 350 -- reduce the number of municipalities to 350 by eliminating Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Visit the Village Commons in South Hadley. Yes, there are apartments above most of those buildings. I could see that.

LarryK4 said...

And just look what that did for the town.

Before Mount Holyoke College built Village Commons, South Hadley was just a not-so-overly-scenic blur on the way to Springfield.

Interesting that Mr. Fox is a professor at Mt. Holyoke. Hmm...

Roach partol said...

"Actually, if you look at the names of those 176 neighbors who I "love to taunt, insult, and ridicule" who signed the petition you will note many of them were involved in the parking garage obstruction."


In the case of that parasite roach Fox, can you say: GREED in one hand, knife stabbing at the heart of the town in the other?

Oh, I think I knew you could.

Anonymous said...

Hell hath no tribulations greater than an ex-Washington lawyer who wants to keep talking and talking and talking about what he thinks should concern us most.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is just jam packed with shits like this.