Thursday, July 21, 2011
Gateway remains open
Maybe it was the nearly 100 degree heat outside Town Hall as tonight's Amherst Redevelopment Authority meeting concerning the joint effort Gateway Project attracted more major players--Town Manager John Musante and UMass Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon--then the usual contingent of concerned neighbors, with but one making a friendly appearance.
Or perhaps the prolonged public process and endless meetings with a plethora of public comments has resulted in a "vision" for that strategic corridor that could actually work to the benefit of all the stakeholders--including hard pressed taxpayers.
We voted unanimously to have ARA member Aaron Hayden (former Chair of the Planning Board and current Select Board member) draft a letter to the Planning Board politely suggesting they "adopt" the Gateway Vision as presented by our consultant Gianni Longo.
I suggested we also ask Town Meeting via an advisory article to support the Gateway Vision as that would allow even more public discussion by insiders who thrive on discussion; and if the broad general vision cannot muster a simply majority vote of that legislative body there's no way in Hell a specific plan will someday win over the two-thirds supermajority required for a necessary zoning change
The Town Manager, sitting shoulder to shoulder with Vice Chancellor Diacon, confirmed that "discussions with UMass are ongoing." He added that he was "very pleased with the planning charrettes and the responsiveness of the consultant."
The overall vision demonstrated that the town and ARA "was serious about broad community input." He circled back to declare the vision a "very, very positive step."
At our next meeting August 4 we should know whether UMass buys into the vision and still wishes to donate the prime 2 acre "catalyst" on which everything now hinges. The Town Manager will also have met with state officials regarding grants for infrastructure improvements and additional consulting on a market analysis, traffic study, and form based code zoning.
So before the steamy weather turns crispy cool, we will know if Gateway is a go...or a goner.