Friday, August 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Modulars

The hulk of a building that would have dominated this frame is gone

The big ugly modular building that cramped the side approach to Amherst Regional Middle School,  "temporary" classrooms that were plunked down in 1994 to help absorb some of the displaced students due to the $22 million Amherst Regional High School renovation, is now absent (with permission).

After the High School renovation/expansion was completed circa 1996, the classrooms transformed into administrative office space, but they lacked basic amenities -- like bathrooms -- and required expensive overhead: $10,000 annually, mostly for electricity.

Employees have now retreated back into the main building.

Meanwhile our pristine never-actually-used-as-classrooms modular unit near the decommissioned Mark's Meadow Elementary School (now returned to UMass) sits unwanted behind the School of Education.

UMass always owned the Mark's Meadow building, but the town --at the exuberant urging of a pre Catherine Sanderson School Committee --  added the stand alone modular classrooms in 2007 at a cost of $220,000.

Mark's Meadow modular "classrooms" now abandoned but still owned by Amherst

The building consists of two class rooms, two rest rooms, two closets, a data closet and custodial closet and an independent heating and cooling systems allowing it to be a stand alone building. But unfortunately,  as such,  would require a whopping investment to properly move and reassemble it elsewhere: A cost approaching what the town originally paid for it. 

Maybe UMass would allow the building to stay where it is and become a homeless shelter?  The current shelter at the Baptist Church, located at the edge of campus, is too small and needs separate facilities for women.  The cost to renovate the modular where it is would be far cheaper than trying to move it. 
 "Homeless and Hungry" woman Amherst town center

The Amherst Community Development Block Grant committee just happens to have a spare $200,000 leftover from last year's appropriation they need to put to good use. And the CDBG advisory committee unanimously voted to address "Homeless and Sheltering" as their number one priority for this upcoming year.
Left: Nancy Gregg, Housing and Shelter Com Rep, Claude Tellier, Co-Chair CDBG Advisory Com

Plus it could be a good learning experience for UMass students to interact with those less fortunate souls down on their luck, who struggle with substance abuse.  Unlike our weekend party hardy types, who think they have it all under control.


Anonymous said...

Great idea! Have you proposed it to the proper committee?

LarryK said...

Actually I just thought of it early this morning as I was trying to come up with a close.

(Not often I start an article without knowing where I was going with it.)

The CDBG advisory committee (one of the "proper" ones) met last night. Unfortunately Amherst Media does not cover them and neither apparently, does the Gazette.

Eastern Promises said...

Amherst hits budget woes, and returns the school to Umass. The university bails the town out of one problem, and you want to place a homeless population there because of a couple dozen students each weekend?

We already provide the town with a library, use of athletic fields, use of the hospital (which homeless people and others on state aid can use for little to no cost), and a entire bus system, many of which are free. I can recall a number of times I rode the bus from Amherst Center to North Amherst and homeless/townsfolk jumped on for free. And of course, this is all ignoring the fact UMass students already work with underprivileged children, disabled citizens, and donate far more hours of time than the town and other institutions.

But stereotyping is easy.

LarryK said...

Yeah, lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a Gown representative has started bashing the Town and the semester hasn't even started yet.

"A couple dozen students"? Try hundreds. Oh, and those gross townsfolk jumping on buses ultimately aren't riding for free, assuming they are taxpayers. And use of the hospital? What hospital? Does the university operate CDH?

Stereotyping is easy. Sure is.

Anonymous said...

Those portables were voted in by a rubber-stamping-happy School Committee, headed by Elaine Brighty and Andy Churchill. Please everyone, remember these people...should we be unlucky enough have them want to represent the town in any other money-spending capacity in the future.