Saturday, December 3, 2011

Some things never change


UMass McGuirk Stadium (pre-expansion)

God how I wish Amherst Town Meeting had been half as smart as the UMass faculty union back in 1987 when we spent a whopping $2.2 million--an astounding $4.4 million in today's dollars--to buy a golf course we could have had for free. Although interestingly enough, it was a UMass professor, Richard Minear (then Chair of the Amherst Select Board) and fellow history professor Ron Story (a few years prior to Ellen Story becoming State Representative) who led the ill fated charge.

As usual, a 159 neighbors had signed a petition supporting the purchase to, as usual, stop development; and town meeting used the sacred power of eminent domain--the political equivalent of detonating a nuclear weapon--to steal the property away from a developer who had a legal agreement signed--at far less than $2.2 million--with owner Dave Maxon.

If only Town Meeting said to the selfish neighbors: "Sure we will take the property, as long as you come up with 80% of the funding," what a different history I would now write. And the town treasury would be so better off because of it.

Of course UMass football making the big jump to FBS will make Cherry Hill look like a Powerball lottery win by comparison. The jump (the shark) has already cost $1 million with the buyout for coach Kevin Morris and staff and next year scholarships alone will cost an addition $2 million. And of course there is that $30 million to expand McGuirk Stadium that the faculty union is now wisely trying to sack.

All this for a football program that lost millions last year. Yikes!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's see, 159 neighbors didn't want a large housing development. Yup! That's a tiny minority. And the town could have had it for free, although that would have left Dave Maxon with nothing. Now the town has green space preserved, recreation, and less development that would have impinged on 159 households, and put extra demand on town water and sewer. Sounds good to me. The road not taken was to not have to build another sewage treatment facility. etc. That's the rest of the story.

LarryK4 said...

Actually Mr. Maxon would still have received the $1.5 million from the developer--pretty far from "nothing.".

And yes, he would have put up the 134 units which would today be paying the average whopping tax bill for the town of Amherst and the golf course surrounding those houses would still be providing lots of green space.

Even today our sewer treatment plant has excess capacity.

Fenway617 for the NFLPOOLONINE.com said...

Umass football going D1 has the 'potential' to build up the program while playing 2-3 years in Foxboro FOR FREE. The plan is they can build the program and have a good D1 team by 2015 when they return to UMass for their games. That would mean better teams coming to Amherst to play them and bringing more fans. This would lead to bigger crowds and the local economy would benefit from it and the UMass brand getting better exposure.

To all the people who complain the money should go to building a new academic building. When was the last time someone paid $25ea to see someone take a chemistry exam?

LarryK4 said...

That's kind of what they said about basketball when the Mullins Center was first proposed...


And look how well that turned out.

Anonymous said...

You and I both know that it's diversification of the tax base that's need not more houses. Research parks, light industry, small-scale retail, etc. More houses? That's never been the answer.

LarryK4 said...

True enough, but the houses Kreger planned to build around Cherry Hill would have targeted an older crowd, thus less likely to impact our venerable schools (with the highest operation cost per kid in the entire region.)

But for sure, with a tax base that is 90.5% residential and less than 10% commercial we could certainly use some diversification.

But with the NIMBYs in town combined with a Town Meeting form of government, it will not likely happen in our lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Larry -- two words: "cost shifting."

Athletics are not a benefit to a university -- not really -- and there are some real questions needing to be asked on this..

Ed said...

Larry -- and this is what happens if the football team wins....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2069794/Oklahoma-State-win-2-badly-hurt-trampled-fan-frenzy-stampede.html

Lesson of the day folks -- sometimes your 110 lb daughter is better off with the armpit of a 230 lb boyfriend to crawl into than she ever would be with the most trendy metrosexuall and his ability to be politically correct. See scared girl on lower right.