Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Gateway: out of the gate, off and running
The Amherst Redevelopment Authority had a most productive meeting, including a brief 10 minute Executive Session to discuss property acquisition, that started this evening at 5:00 (instead of the usual 7:00) and wrapped up at 6:30.
ACP Visioning and Planning, awarded the four-month consulting contract only two weeks ago at our March 1st meeting (one of four bidders for the $30,000 contract), already demonstrates one reason they were chosen: A team will be in town all day this Friday for a series of work sessions with town planning staff, including a walking tour of the proposed main corridor (although an exact footprint is still to be determined) and formulating a list of stakeholders to include in the ultra-public process about to unfold.
The ARA is treating the walking tour of the possible impact area as a "site visit," which is a public meeting--so the general public may tag along--but no policy discussions or public comments will take place.
The old "Frat Row" at the main Gateway to UMass, 1.86 acres of prime real estate, is currently the only swath of land that is certain to be included in the final plan. UMass will donate the keystone piece to the ARA after state legislature approval. Senator Stan Rosenberg, one of the state's more powerful politicians, resides in Amherst and graduated from UMass/Amherst, our flagship institution of higher education.
In 2007 Alpha Tau Gamma, Inc. sold the property to UMass for $2.5 million and as part of the deal donated $500,000 the Stockbridge School of Agriculture endowment plus covered the $300,000 demolition/clean up costs. Since they were a private entity, in their final year of existence as infamous party houses they paid Amherst $60,000 in property taxes.
Since the Gateway Project will also be privately owned-and-operated, it could easily generate over a million dollars in annual tax revenues for our cash-strapped municipal coffers. Giddyup!