Monday, April 30, 2012

Party Houses of the Weekend

26 Allen Street, Amherst (Gateway to UMass/Amherst)

So yes, you would have to go some in order to win the ignominious Party House prize over the past weekend when Amherst was about as busy as it could possibly get with many of those folks in a party mood.  Although Extravaganja attracted the usual thousands to town center it was also--as usual--a well behaved event.  Well, except for a numerous tickets handed out for pot consumption.

Our Party House winners, on the other hand, stood out from the crowd precisely because everybody around them was NOT making obnoxiously loud noise very late at night or throwing bottles.  And as a result offenders received $300 noise tickets (as opposed to pot possession tickets that only carry a $100 fine) and were arrested and thrown in jail, as opposed to the pot rally where nobody was arrested.

According to APD logs (2:00 AM early Saturday)

Report of loud party, loud music, and people throwing bottles at the house across the street
Loud voices on porch from gathering of individuals.  No cooperation received from tenants or guests.  Brad Sloan attempted to close door on officer and then refused to leave when asked to do so.  Sloan begins to resist arrest when I attempted to place him under arrest.  

Brad Thomas Sloan, 33 Allston Brighton, MA, age 25  Disorderly conduct, resisting arrest
Lauren C. Mark, 25 Sunset Trail, New Fairfield, CT, age 21, noise violation
Laura Kristin Moynihan, 151 18th St, Lowell, MA, age 20, noise violation

50 High Street, Amherst (my immediate neighbor 50 years ago)

 1:30 AM early Sunday morning

Loud party with music and voices upon arrival . Ms Simpson was asked to clear the party and she did not.  She was advised of consequences and still would not clear the party.  She was placed under arrest for noise violation.

Apparently officers gave her three chances to comply and at one point she shut off the music and lights saying to her friends police had "no right to be here and no right to shut down the party."  And when she did turn the lights on after failing to clear the guests, that she described as too drunk to leave, officers noted one of them standing in the window striking a pose with his middle finger prominently up in the air.  

Arrested for noise:
Anna Francis Simpson, 50 High Street, Amherst, age 32

And just so the apartment complexes get almost equal representation, we have Puffton Village. Unit #398  to be exact.  Also very early Sunday morning, or very late depending on your viewpoint.  6:48 AM to be exact.

According to police logs:

A loud stereo was blaring coupled with yelling and laughter.  Guests of the residence were also on the roof rolling full cans of beer down the tin roofs while jumping up and down causing a thumping noise.  The resident was placed under arrest.

Joseph Hebard Barry, 109 Oakton Ave, Boston, MA, age 20 Noise violation

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You don't bring me flowers

A swarm of runners heads towards the flowers in Amherst's 2nd annual Daffodil Fun Run

While maybe not quite as large as the throng who attended the Extravaganja pot festival in town center yesterday, it was good to see such a large turnout for a healthier endeavor like the Daffodil Fun Run, a 3.1 mile run/walk past scenic spots in Amherst that attracted over 1,000 participants with all the proceeds going to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, an iconic local social service agency.
An almost equally large swarm of walkers headed up the rear of the pack

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Day of Reckoning?

Sunday morning epilogue: AFD transported four intoxicated individuals to CDH last night including one naked male and treated at the scene (Mullins Center) fourteen total. A week ago Thursday totals were far worse: 24 treated, 14 transported.

The centre held...this time.  
Original Post (All day/night Saturday reverse chronological order):

11:15 PM  AFD responding to UMass Washington high rise dorm for ETOH female

10:22 PM AFD sending ambulance to Mullins Center for two ETOH patients (passed out drunk). Westfield Ambulance hired by Mullins Center was busy taking another ETOH patient to Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
815 PM: Mullins Center line snakes out almost to the road waiting for techno music extravaganza
State Police, Hampden County Sheriffs, and the APD, prepare for darkness

7:15 PM  Extravaganja 2012 Pot Rally is done. No arrests (as in hands cuffed behind back and thrown in cell), but thirty (30) citations issued for possession of less than an ounce of pot. Each citation is a $100 fine. Now the real partying begins, with alcohol the drug of choice. And by the looks of the parking lot at APD headquarters, they are ready for anything.
AFD APD respond to reported drug overdose (4:10 PM). Gone on arrival
Crowd of thousands at 4:15 PM
Town Center very busy around Town Common 4:20 PM
APD bike cops make a bust 3:00 PM
Town Common Extravaganja 10:00 AM (2 hours until start)

7:30 AM
And so it a Hollywood disaster movie: sun shining brightly, a vivid blue sky, a bird chirping incessantly from a far off perch.

All across the region folks are starting to stir.  Soon, many thousands will descend upon us:  SoccerFest at UMass, Extravaganja pot festival on the town common.

By daylight things will be fine.  They always are.  Although a thousand students will start to party.

Then darkness comes.  More--much more--than a thousand students continue to party.  The Mullins Center opens for "Fantazia," a techno dance extravaganza attracting thousands more, who revel in partying.

The stage is set.

Bus route detours to mitigate parties

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shutesbury Library site contamination confirmed

 Shutesbury Library proposed site (former auto body shop)

As residents of Shutesbury hold their breath awaiting the decision of Judge Rup concerning the eligibility of voters in the contentious 522-522 tie Override vote, town administrator Rebecca Torres received confirmation from an environmental consultant that PCBs are indeed present at the site and an "Immediate Response Action plan" required by the state Department of Environmental Protection for PCP detection within 500 feet of drinking wells has been implemented.

Additional soil samples from beneath drum will be taken and analyzed

Thursday, April 26, 2012

UMass Alumni Association chaos

A confidential "for internal audiences only" consultants report commissioned by Vice Chancellor of development and alumni relations Mike Leto using $24,500 of taxpayer funds discovered "Significant issues with respect to the UMass Amherst Alumni Association Board of Directors." The critique goes on to conclude "an in depth inquiry of volunteer issues and relationships would be strongly recommended in the near future."

UMass Amherst contributes $1 million annually to the finances of the Alumni Association which is independent of the University via a 501-(c) (3) non profit classification.  The report found: "UMAAA's $2.3 million in revenues are significantly lower than all aspirational peers, who also have nearly twice the number of alumni."

UMass Amherst has 226,046 living alumni with almost half--110,562--residing in Massachusetts (with 46,000 of them in Boston).

In 2010 the alumni association switched from a $40 annual dues paying model to a "let them all in" model making virtually all UMass/Amherst grads members.  At the time there were only 5,000 dues paying members or 2.2%, significantly below industry standard of 20% (+/-3)and well below the high water mark of 8,000 subscribing grads in 2001.

The report also sites 26,114 donating members but that figure represents anyone who ever donated to UMass for any reason most of them independent of the Alumni Association.  That number (12.3%) comes closer to industry standard, thus demonstrating that, on average, UMass alumni do have affection for their alma mater.

The report also reveals a bloated bureaucracy with  "more full time employee than either current peer."

Like the venerable Amherst K-12 public schools, it's not like all that extra money buys above average results:  "Campus partners rated Alumni programs/events and campus partnerships as fair-to-average," even though "a higher percentage of expenditures is spent on programs and activities."

In an overview the report discloses the problems have been ongoing "for over a decade", and reaches the level of "dysfunctional," which creates an atmosphere where "there are no winners."

Bentz, Whaley, Flessner go on to recommend "visionary, respected, and energetic staff leadership" and to accomplish this the "executive director should flatten the management structure so that she has more operational oversight of the association and more knowledge of the staff operations."

The volunteer board of directors "must cease the in-fighting and hostility that has been described as its mode of operation of over a decade."  Surprisingly the report does NOT recommend throwing money at the problem:  "The UMAAA has sufficient revenue for an organization of its size and alumni population.  Funding should be reallocated to support signature programming opportunities and reduce or eliminate funding for other programs."
The report was dated March 7, 2011.

According to a Daily Hampshire Gazette article dated March 23, 2011 the report was being kept "under wraps":

"Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for UMass Amherst, declined to comment on reports of conflict within the Alumni Association."

"Anna Symington, the association's executive director did not respond to Gazette written requests for comments on the report."

"Mike Leto, the vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs, did not respond to a message left with his office seeking comment on why the report was commissioned and what it found."

"Sean LeBlanc, president of the Alumni Association, said in an email message that he took part in a conference call in January with the consultant, but declined to say what was discussed. He added that he hadn't seen the report and did not know what it contained."

"Representatives with Bentz Whaley Flessner did not return phone calls from the Gazette seeking comment on the report."

A sanitized report was released on May 12, 2011 with very limited distribution


Fast forward to today:

Shorty after the consultants report was completed Executive Director Anna Symington suddenly retired.  Sean LeBlanc was replaced by Ronald Grasso as president of the Alumni Association in an election with no other contestants, garnering about 20 votes out of 33 board members eligible to vote.

A former "disgusted" member of that upper echelon with "nothing good to say about the Alumni Association" reports wanting "to quit half way thru my term, and I refused to run for another."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Dr Kate (center) behind Ginger the therapy dog

About 100 friends, family, business consultants, employees and patients came together to celebrate the long in coming groundbreaking for the Atkinson Family Practice new medical facility on Research Drive in East Amherst.  The project--like all construction proposals in town--was vociferously opposed by neighbors for the usual reasons of traffic and noise.

Or maybe just because it represents progress.

Amherst Select Board member (and a patient) Diana Stein on left.  Dr. Kate: "This is one of the happiest days of my life."

From Wraps to Yogurt

Froyo World, a self serve yogurt bar, will open soon in the downtown location formerly occupied by "That's a Wrap" and before that "Ben and Jerry's".  Sounds a lot healthier to me--and if we have to have another "bar" in the downtown, I can't think of anything better for them to be serving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Public Nuisance

Mullins Center: A giant drain on Amherst public safety

Last Thursday night for a three hour period all five Amherst ambulances were stuck in a continuous loop between the UMass Mullins Center, a state owned entertainment venue, and the Cooley Dickinson Hospital, transporting 14 drug or alcohol overdose "victims," leaving AFD helpless to protect the town against medical emergencies requiring an ambulance.

These days the AFD is busy enough as it is.

Two months ago when the Mullins Center hosted a Rusko concert the results were almost as bad, with 8 patient transports in a very short period tying up all five ambulances.

This Saturday Amherst, UMass and State Police are on high alert for end of semester party hijinks.  Extravaganja, extolling the virtues of marijuana, is expected to attract 5,000 pot patrons to the town common.  Ominously, the Mullins Center is once again promoting a "performance"--Fantazia-- that appears to be tailor made to produce drug and alcohol overdoses.

A "360 degree dance experience" means folks will be engaged in physical exertion, combined with a tad too much alcohol or drugs in a warm venue under pulsating lights can quickly lead to medical problems.  

AFD will have 9 professional firefighters on during the day (normal staffing is 7) increased to 11 as darkness descends (three of them stationed at the Mullins Center) with an additional medic riding along with APD. Chief Nelson and Assistant Chief's Stromgren and McKay will also be hovering.

Still, the centre may not hold.

Terrifying enough we routinely play Russian roulette with a single round in the chamber, on Saturday night there may be as many as three.  Click, click...

Love Hurts

In addition to the federally funded "Cops in Shops" program that places undercover police officers in local package stores to nab underage youth with fake IDs, perhaps APD should initiate a bartender program in the downtown to catch over consumption of alcohol and even more important, provide therapy.

3:06 AM, early Sunday morning (in the pouring rain):

Two females were observed under the overhang of Moti.  Both were crying and visually upset.  I stopped to inquire if any issues existed?  One of the two females was scheduled to be married soon and tonight was her  bachelorette party.  The wedding, however, was called off tonight by the groom.  They were very upset.  A curtsey transportation was provided.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Party Central Report

Unlike last weekend, when Amherst Police handed out seventeen $300 noise tickets, this past weekend was, according to detective Dave Foster, "remarkably quiet," with only six noise warnings and three $300 nuisance house tickets issued to one location at 16 North Hadley Road...although the same three individuals were also arrested for underage possession of liquor.

Perhaps it was a recovery pause after the blow out Patriots Day long weekend that included two drunk driving arrests, the death of a 24 year old motorcyclist from a wrong way driver, and a massive party at Puffers Pond that left the recreation area looking like a garbage truck exploded.

Police were of course pro active, with every available officer on duty.  They also arrested almost as many college aged youths as last week for underage drinking/open container violations, 24 this weekend ($7,200 worth of fines) vs 25 last week.  And unfortunately, like last week, two drunk drivers.

On Saturday early afternoon police called a landlord to inform him a party was brewing at one of his rentals.  According to police logs they then:  "Returned to speak with residence and advised them that our response there was imminent and that if called we would be taking enforcement action.  After being advised of options, parties decided to have an alcohol free picnic with 500 pounds of steak and lobster to eat."

Later around midnight College Street residents called APD to help assist with removal of "unwanted guests."  And police were only too happy to assist, removing "Approximately 80-100 from house and yard.  No problems, cleared with full cooperation of residents."

The weather was not a factor in the more civilized behavior, as the rain held off until almost midnight Saturday.  And the DPW did not spike the water supply with tranquilizers.  Maybe--just maybe--the civility sermon is getting through.  Maybe.

AFD: calm after the Thursday night Mullins Center fiasco

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Amherst Sustains (a little)

Although not nearly as well attended as the annual Extravaganja (coming up next week) the Amherst Sustainability Festival attracted a diverse--albeit--small, hardy crowd to the Town Common.  As did the coinciding seasonal debut of the Amherst Farmers Market, now returned to the original Spring Street Parking lot, their home for the past 39 years.

DPW completed Spring Street reconstruction just in the nick of time

W.D. Cowls distributed tree seedlings

 Cinda (Jones) the Friendly Bear (Jada, not so sure)
And of course no Amherst Town Common event is without politics

Now we're talking!

APD downtown Amherst

Town Manager John Musante just tweeted (yes, he's on Twitter) about his "ride along" with APD last night.  Now we have to get him, like his predecessor Larry Shaffer, to start blogging--or at the very least get on Facebook--to give us the "who, what, when, where, why and how."

And of course, do a ride along with AFD.

Rode along with Amherst Police Friday night. APD's unsung heroes working to keep us all safe. Thank you.
He picked a good night, as it sounded from scanner traffic like an all too typical frisky Friday.  State police also set up a DUI roadblock in Hadley and bagged five potential killers on the road (out of 500 cars checked, or 1%).  And the Daily Hampshire Gazette issued a rather stern editorial today about the slobfest at Puffers Pond on Patriots Day.

The tide is turning...

A few hours after I posted this a "newbie" posted the following over on UMasshoops, a fanboy listserve that is having a lively discussion (for a change) on the whole UMass party hardy culture in view of the recent Puffers Pond incident.  This is priceless:

Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"As a student who attends this fine university, I can safely say that there is just about nowhere any students can go to have a good time and drink. Even the bars as I have read in this thread are kept at half capacity by the fire dept.

It's honestly getting pretty ridiculous how often cops are around. I have seen two cops on horses just sitting around on campus walking home from class on a Monday afternoon. For what? Its becoming a zero tolerance police state around here and honestly it sucks. I understand they are trying to change the image of the school but at what cost? Students are becoming increasingly annoyed with this university in more ways than one but I'll stick to this topic.

I am sure most posters on this board are UMass alums and I am also sure many of your fondest memories of UMass were partying on the weekends. I know that is the case for my father. He doesn't tell me stories about sitting in class and he turned out just fine. Why try to end the one of the best things this school has going for it?

The reason situations like Puffers Pond happen is because once we get a little freedom a chance to let loose we do it or else we miss our chance. This weekend they literally shut down streets and there was a cop just hanging out at the back of Puffers Pond. Where does this all end"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fireground: University Drive

AFD Chief Tim Nelson on the scene
Amherst Fire Department responded to a dryer fire around 1:00 PM at the Laundry Club on University Drive.  Fire is out.   The entire building was shut down for about an hour.
Smoke gets in your eyes

Ladder Truck 1 and Engine 2, a pumper, responded to the scene

A Justified Response

Tyler Davidson, just after assaulting an officer
Forty years of martial arts training--38 of them as a black belt--makes me intimately familiar with  justifiable use of force.  This YouTube video purported to be "4 cops beating the shit out of a UMass student for no reason" during the Meadow Street Mayhem last Saturday afternoon is a perfect example...Of what is justifiable.

First of all they are Amherst Police Department officers, not UMass--although both departments are highly trained.  What the camera does not show is 1,000 other students on the quad that sunny afternoon, or the perp's physical provocation towards police in the moments leading up to his arrest. Or the previous calls to APD for help at the scene dealing with loud noise, thrown bottles, and drunken fistfights.

What I find more interesting in this juvenile report published on, is not so much the attempt to discredit APD (or UMPD) by whipping up sympathy for a drunken fool who deserves to be expelled from school, but the email to tenants from a landlord who seems to be feeling the public pressure to tighten the way he runs his housing ship.

Even more interesting, it was Kendrick Property Management who first called 911 to warn of a large gathering coming together in the quad area of Townhouse Apartments that Saturday afternoon, an apartment complex they manage.

The mayhem over Patriots Day weekend included not only this incident but far more serious ones: two drunken driving arrests, passed out drunk students overwhelming our emergency services by tying up all five ambulances simultaneously, and the horrific accident on the Amherst/Hadley line that took the life of a 24 year old UMass student (and a Amherst resident) about to graduate, killed by a wrong way driver.

And of course the slobfest of 1,000 college aged youths (code for UMass students) taking over Puffers Pond and leaving in their wake a boatload of debris.  Just how to do you think most of those kids made it back to their dwellings after that pernicious public party early Monday night?

Our roads are not safe (cue Jim Morrison, "There's a killer on the road"); our neighborhoods not conducive to raising families!  And it's only going to get worse over the next three or four weekends.  The Amherst Select Board, our highest ranking elected public officials, needs to act.  Now.

Request District Attorney Dave Sullivan coordinate with State Police, APD, and UMPD a Driving Under the Influence roadblock in Amherst, near UMass, before graduation.

Request Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Ellen Story file state legislation to allow local municipal bylaw fine violations (noise, nuisance, alcohol) be increased to a maximum of $500 from the current $300.

Issue a sternly worded statement to the local media--especially the Mass Daily Collegian--giving voice to the outrage.
Even Fanboys on are starting to get it

Editors Note; UMass is the #3 employer in Western Massachusetts and has been Amherst's #1 employer for over 100 years. Every September Amherst is blessed to have thousands of exuberant new consumers flock to the University for the first time.  99% of UMass students are industrious, mature, decent individuals driving on the road to success. It's the 1% you read about here. And they need to change their act.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting Ready

War Memorial Pool

The renovations have begun on Amherst's centrally located outdoor pool. The War Memorial Pool was built in 1955 and has served generations of Amherst families ever since...well, except for the past four years when it was closed due to deterioration from a lack of upkeep, and the town's misplaced priorities. 

Although town meeting voted to spend almost $300,000 last fall to fund the project, the state came through with a grant that will cover most of the costs.  My sources tell me the project is on schedule to be completed in time for a late June opening.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hot Time in the town

 UPDATE Wednesday morning:

The Gazette jumped all over the Puffers Pond Patriots Day trashing fiasco although, strangely, did not quote from the original email I first posted below which was sent to the Select Board, Town Manager, Conservation Director and anybody who is anybody in town government.  Story will no doubt be above-the-fold Front Page article in tomorrow's Amherst Bulletin, which does not hide behind a paywall.

Original Post:
In addition to the major disturbance at Townhouse Apartments on Meadow Street profiled in the post below, alcohol related incidents kept Amherst police on the go all over town--but particularly so in immediate neighborhoods around UMass: Fearing Street, Hobart Lane, Phillips Street, and North Pleasant Street.

In all Amherst Police issued seventeen $300 noise tickets ($5,100), twenty five $300 open container/underage drinking tickets ($7,500), and eight $100 possession of under one ounce marijuana tickets ($800) for a grand total of $13,400 in civil fines.

And most troubling of all, arrested two individuals--one male, one female--for the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence.

By now you have probably read in the Main Stream Media about the tragic death of a 24 year old motorcyclist from Amherst hit by a driver going the wrong way on RT116 near UMass very early Saturday morning.

I have no confirmation (yet) that it was alcohol/drug related, but I've driven that route a thousand times and can't understand how you end up going the wrong way on such a well signed state highway in good weather conditions.
RT116 Amherst/Hadley: Note yellow lines, sign in center divider and another sign on right

Amherst Fire Department was also scrambling to deal with high call volume--so much so that we had to rely on mutual aid six times for an ambulance.  Note high number of ETOH (passed out drunk) calls that tied up our highly trained EMERGENCY first responders:

Oddest event of the weekend?  An 18-year-old arrested for "disorderly conduct" after urinating in the living room of a Meadow Street apartment.  He was, amazingly, drunk. Well in that case, not so odd.

Subject: Events at Puffers Pond on Monday, April 16th, 2012

I am a resident who lives near Puffers Pond and I was just made aware of the mess that was left by students this evening.  Luckily a few individuals cleaned-up after the students, but this is above and beyond having fun.  One of the 'clean-up crew' had shared these images with me and honestly, they made me sick.  I am not sure who or what department they should be forwarded to, for something to happen - so that this does not occur again!

Once again year round residents left to clean up after college aged youths


Editors Note:  UMass is now the largest employer in Western Massachusetts and has been Amherst's largest employer for over 100 years.  Every September Amherst is blessed to have thousands of exuberant new consumers flock to the University for the first time.  99% of UMass students are industrious, mature, decent individuals driving on the road to success.  It's the 1% you read about here.  And they need to change their act.

Meadow Street Mayhem

 Townhouse Quad.  

Glorious weather on a long holiday weekend spelled trouble for APD, reminiscent of the September 9 Meadow Street Riot, when the north end of campus erupted in crowd violence while town and UMass officials were busy handing out oatmeal cookies and schmoozing with students in the south end of campus.

Once again the nefarious north became the general location for out-of-control nuisance partying, with Meadow Street  again serving as ground zero.  This of course is reason #1 neighbors (over the age of 30) in the north oppose North Amherst Village Center rezoning, fearing incidents like this will only magnify exponentially.

Police first responded to Townhouse Apartments on Saturday afternoon around 2:30 PM for reports of a "party going on and a band setting up in the quad area." But the band was given a verbal warning and the officer noted, "Quad filling up with students but nothing out of control at this time."

At 3:15 PM police are called back by apartment security regarding "beer bottles that were thrown in his direction."  And at 6:00 PM, a female called wishing to press charges against a male student who drunkenly fell into her and chipped an incisor tooth.  She also reported being struck in the leg by a thrown beer bottle while at the Townhouse quad party.

About this same time apartment security reports "while walking by unit #20 he had bottles thrown at him that missed but hit and smashed the windshield of a black Audi."  At this point (6:14 PM) APD swoops in and shuts down the party, before the cover of darkness makes matters considerably worse.

According to police narrative:

1000+ and an unruly crowd, with numerous fights breaking out.  Apartment #24 refused to disburse and control their guests inside and out.  The apartment continued to party and refused to silence their music or clear the party.  Residents (4) issued Town Bylaw noise citations and then became hostile, puffing their chests up and surrounding officers 101 and 110 in an attempt to overpower them.  One party (Tyler Davidson) clenched his fists and charged.  Placed under arrest for Assault and Battery on a police officer.

Tyler Davidson, age 23.  Arrested for A+B on police officer, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Amherst College upkeep continues

Pratt Field panorama

 Green green grass of home (at least the color will stay the same)

One of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation continues its new construction renovations boom as Amherst College plans to overhaul venerable, stately Pratt Field, located on the gateway to downtown Amherst, although set off by a black wrought iron gate.
 Rt 9 side of Pratt Field: guarded by same style gate that protects Dickinson family plot

The $12.5 million renovation, courtesy of a handful of Anon donors, will start this coming Fall and be completed by the Fall of next year.  Perhaps the only surprise for a college steeped in tradition is the move to transform the plush playing field into artificial turf.
 The track will shift slightly down to better align with ornate gates

New viewing stands will push back towards bike path.  New press box (for dwindling supply of reporters)

No word if Woodside Ave will reopen at the entryway to Pratt Field,  closed by the Amherst Select Board after the state renovated the historic bridge
Meanwhile, almost contiguous with Pratt Field located directly on busy Rt 9 the College will go before the Amherst Planning Board on May 2nd for a routine rubber stamp to their request for doubling the occupancy from a one family to a duplex for this home they recently purchased at  96 Northampton Road (Rt 9).
96 Northampton Road.  Yet another yellow house expansion

In spite of being a tax exempt educational institution, Amherst College is still the number one taxpayer in town.  For instance, the newly renovated Lord Jeff Inn and the 9-hole Amherst Golf Course are for-profit businesses, so they are on the tax rolls.   But mainly because of all the houses Amherst College owns and rents to professors, who have a reputation for not partying.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another neighborhood expansion

This one bedroom colonial at 1156 North Pleasant street, only a stone's throw from North Amherst center or Hobart Lane and Meadow Street--ground zero for student party houses--sold in early March for $264,000, well below its accessed value of $373,500.

The new owners, Catherine and Morten Jensen-Hole, will go before the Planning Board on April 18 for a rubber stamp "site plan review" to e-x-p-a-n-d from one family (maximum of four unrelated occupants) to a two family, or eight unrelated tenants.

Even though the rental income potential doubles, the assessor does not increase the valuation of the property whatsoever, so the tax revenues to the town remains the same.  Last week the Zoning Board of Appeals approved (as did the Planning Board) just such a conversion for a yellow house at 156 Sunset Avenue, but not before neighbors made their concerns loudly known about the quality of life issues associated with non-owner occupied student rentals.

Property Card for 1156 North Pleasant Street, Amherst

Friday, April 13, 2012

The few, the proud...

 Downtown Amherst 8:45 AM

So this morning, not quite as early as usual, the 29 commemorative flags returned to their lofty perch in the downtown to commemorate Patriots' Day, one of the few (six) "holidays" the flags are allowed to fly free and proud.

Seven days if you count 9/11, but then Amherst only allows that commemoration once every five years, so this will not occur again until 2016, on the fifteenth anniversary.

President Bush called 9/11  "Patriot Day" when signing an executive order for the American flag to fly at half staff every 9/11 for as long as the republic stands, joining only a handful of days remembered in such a mournful way.

Annually, as it should.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Circle the (Welcome) Wagons

The "Welcome Reception" for two new employees put on by town officials in the prime location for all things governmental, the Town Room, was well attended this afternoon.  Major local developers--Barry Roberts, Rich Slobody, Scott Nielsen--mixed with Select Board members, police brass, department heads, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tony Maroulis, and Nancy Buffone, UMass Executive Director of External Relation.

Obviously the town put on this meet and greet pageant to demonstrate their commitment to solving the vexing problem of non owner occupied rental property bringing down the quality of life in residential neighborhoods throughout the town.

And it's a multi front mission.  Town Meeting enacting bylaws and new zoning regulations and these gentlemen enforcing those regulations.  Or of course, the Amherst Police Department.
Jon Thompson (far right), building inspector/code enforcement officer receives bottle of Bayer from Cinda Jones. Dave Ziomek, Nancy Buffone, Stephanie O'Keeffe in the middle

Rob Morra, Building Commissioner, chats with Cinda and Evan Jones