Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If You Build It?

Revive the Gateway Project

Actually they are already coming (2,000 over the next seven years) so the need for additional student housing is a given.

Two years ago UMass was willing to donate a prime swath of lush lawn for a mixed use development that would help solve two imbalances in our little college town:  taxable housing for our #1 demographic and commercial space for goods and services -- all within walking distance of the heart of the campus or downtown Amherst. 

The Gateway Project died because public officials failed to show resolve in the face of adversity:  NIMBYs with sharpened pitchforks and flamethrowers.

Now after the tumult created by "The Retreat," it's time to take a second look at The Gateway, and this time GET IT DONE.

According to a recent Op/Ed column in the Amherst Bulletin, UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy states "The university is committed to exploring the feasibility of a legislative remedy that would allow us to pursue public-private partnerships to address our housing needs."  Bingo!

What the Chancellor is referring to is a work around of the 1993 "Pacheco Rule" that protects public services from being privatized (no wonder then Governor Weld tried to veto it):

A "Special Act" exempting Amherst and UMass from the rule -- but only in a case of public/private partnership to construct new student housing on campus property.  The former Frat Row for instance.

 Former Frat Row, ready to go!

This "Home Rule Petition" is just what the Chancellor ordered, and would fall into the hands of able state legislators Stan Rosenberg -- a shoe in for the next Senate President -- and Ellen Story.

Two recent influential housing studies indicated the clear and desperate need for student housing, starting with the simple fact that 59% of our population are "college aged".

And until that problem is solved all other aspects of housing concerning families, retirees, low-and- moderate income, or the homeless will never be solved.

If the "rising star" Housing & Sheltering Committee really wants to make the difference, they need to prepare a warrant article for Town Meeting initiating this Special Act process.  Now!


Anonymous said...

There may be opposition to this from those who wish to see the "Pacheco Rule" abolished outright.

Personally, I'd like to see it abolished as to UMass - en toto.

Anonymous said...

Why should the housing be built on the perimeter in the campus where it impact neighborhoods? The new Commonwealth College mini-campus at the heart of UMass, which has dorms and classrooms, shows that the proper approach is to tear down old infastructure in the center of the campus.

Larry Kelley said...

They already had the old Frat houses torn down, so it's "shovel ready."

Anonymous said...

Forget shovel ready, think low impact. They had removed a nuisance and there was no need to put one back.

Anonymous said...

And where the heck in Amherst is "low impact"??? The old Frat Row? Nope, to close to lots of people. The Retreat? Nope, too rural.

Have you been on campus? There's almost no open space left. And that's largely because of the new dorms they are building!


Anonymous said...

There's almost no open space left. And that's largely because of the new dorms they are building!

The problem with Southwest was that it was 5500 students on too small a plot of land, no open space and lots of concrete to reflect noise.

Putting 1000 MORE kids on LESS land is failing to learn from the mistakes of history.

Now as to eliminating faculty and staff parking -- making everyone pay student rates and park down by the football stadium -- that'd be a place where they could build...

Anonymous said...

This is probably the most brilliant post that you have ever made (with the exception of those praising our Fire and Police Departments). The problem is that it is so logical that it could never happen in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Um, hello? Isn't Ms. Jones going to sell the land to someone in the end, either the retreat developer or some other developer?

I may be wrong and not completely informed, in which case i'm sure the friendly liberal nimbys will devour me like hungry sharks, but it seems to me that Jones is looking to sell and I doubt she cares who buys it, a stance most of us would take if we were looking to sell a parcel worth $6.5 mil.

Anonymous said...

What if we built student housing on the Moon?

Larry Kelley said...

Don't go messing with the Martians backyard.

Anonymous said...

We'll know that Cushman residents are truly being constructive if they elect representatives for Town Meeting who state that they will support AND VOTE FOR initiatives for student housing elsewhere in town. This problem came to the Cushman doorstep because it was pushed there by prior Town Meeting intransigence.

In other words, we're fed up with "no, no, no" from Town Meeting as the response to all proposals.

Walter Graff said...

You can't build it on the moon because people can see the moon from Amherst and student housing would disrupt historic Amherst's night glow.

Was a SAD SAD town. Entitled children of rich kids who spent lots on degrees that proves emotional intelligence is the true measure of intelligence. Most in Amherst will have to look that term up.

Walter Graff said...