Monday, October 24, 2011
Amherst Supports Business Improvement District
The Amherst Select Board voted unanimously to support the organization of a downtown Business Improvement District financed by a self-imposed, additional property tax collected by the town with the extra money going towards capital improvements (benches, lighting, plantings, etc) and advertising/marketing the wide variety of goods and services provided by downtown merchants.
Promoting Downtown Amherst co-chair Jerry Jolly reports 65% of downtown businesses have signed on (state law requires 50%) as well as Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts, our two main educational institutions and the top two landowners in town.
The hearing tonight was packed with supporters and not a single detractor. SB Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe pointed out the board could continue the Public Hearing for a couple weeks in case somebody missed the opportunity to oppose the project, but she also noted that the BID only impacts the business community, so little opposition or concern from NIMBYs was expected.
If the town is also going to contribute funds that will have to get Town Meeting approval in the future.
The BID will put downtown Amherst on the same level footing as the nearby Hadley Malls which charge all the tenants a similar fee for joint promotions and improvements (and have a lot more parking).