Amherst Housing & Sheltering Committee this morning
The Amherst Housing & Sheltering Committee voted unanimously this morning to send a borderline inflammatory dispatch to RKG Associates, consultants working on a "Market Study Report."
The lead author of the remarks, John Hornik, even went so far as to raise the nuclear option of not accepting the final report if problems are not adequately addressed.
The $30,000 housing market study was approved by Amherst Town Meeting, but not without a fair amount of criticism along the lines of Amherst does too many studies and never seems to follow up on their recommendations.
The initial draft report was presented last month at a public meeting and as part of the contract the consultants are required to appear at one more public hearing, probably late next month, before issuing the final report.
Housing and Sheltering Committee members pointed out the consultants used the term "Pioneer Counties" as opposed to "Pioneer Valley," making it seem like they are unfamiliar with Amherst; and they use industry jargon like "Main Street USA", "exurbanites" or "laptops and lattes" which will turn off local readers unfamiliar with the trendy terms.
Committee Co-Chair Greg Stutsman thought the consultants were confusing "demand with desirability." Obviously in a "college town" high demand for student housing is a given. What the committee would like to see is a plan for attracting a more "desirable" demographic (in addition to students) with recommendations as to how to make that happen.
Town planner and liaison to the sheltering committee Nate Malloy agreed they "Can drive the report by asking the consultants to give recommendations for particular demographics."
Ideally the consultants would come up with both a zoning and physical design blueprint that allows for a high-density development accommodating students, families, low-and-moderate income levels, as well as town employees.
Of course even if the consultants conjure up this Utopian design, it would require the exceedingly hard to acquire two-thirds majority vote of Amherst Town Meeting.
Maybe they can also recommend a good Voodoo priest.