Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Casualty Of Confrontation

Stop The Retreat: A movement in the weeds

So for the Anons who questioned the combative headline in my first ever guest post (probably my last) in the war over "The Retreat" -- high end housing for college students, our #1 demographic -- I offer the following sad Facebook exchange:

Hey, if the national media can cite Facebook as attribution for an alleged 11-year-old's taunting of President Obama over the supposedly imminent attack on Syria, I don't feel bad using Facebook here. 

The Amherst Bulletin, obviously still clinging to its long retired role as supreme gatekeeper, allowed NIMBY opponent Jack Hirsch two columns attacking "The Retreat", the second one where he took on Mr. Grabbe by name.

When Mr. Grabbe asked editor Larry Parnass for the right to respond he was turned down because the editor-in-chief wanted to give Mr. Hirsch "the last word."

(outnumbered) Nick Grabbe invoking 1st Amendment rights at 7/29 Select Board meeting

Okay, fair enough (not really) I suppose -- except in this week's Bulletin they publish another attack on "The Retreat" and again Mr. Grabbe is mentioned by name, with an almost snarky like quality you expect to find on a blog rather than staid old fashioned print newspaper.

Yes as President Truman once observed the public arena can be an uncomfortably warm kitchen, but in Amherst it's more like one-room commercial pizza joint on a hot, humid late-August afternoon.

Amherst:  where even the h is silent.  And now you know why.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Welcome Back Students!

 164 Sunset Avenue, 12:45 PM Friday (must be liquid lunch)

Well, maybe not these particular students.  Or this particular address. 

Labor Day Remembered

Commemorative flags fly over downtown Amherst

So yes, the commemorative flags went up this morning -- not to greet returning students as they flock by the thousands back to our formerly bucolic little "college town" -- but to remember the struggles of the post industrial age labor movement in America.

Or, since people died in that sometimes violent struggle, perhaps I should use the word "commemorate."

On the night of September 10, 2001 during the two-hour Select Board discussion of when the flags could fly, one SB member did take note, however, of how "nice" the flags would look on a late summer weekend as the town greets the other half of the population that will reside here for the next nine months.

What the Select Board of today fails to grasp is the delicacy of timing.

Between now and 9/11 so many simple things -- even just the weather -- can trip memories of twelve years ago: any late summer morning with the sun shining high and bright with a "severe clear" blue sky for a background, will do it.

Or the bells of St. Brigid's Church calling the faithful to Sunday morning sermon, just as on THAT Tuesday morning the bells suddenly began to ring and it seemed like they would never stop.

The commemorative flags did return to their perch, at half staff, that awful morning.  It seemed to bring comfort to the traumatized, as it should.

And should again.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Very Simple Request (Denied)

Amherst Select Board meeting 8/26/13

For the second time in less than a year the Amherst Select Board refused to allow the 29 commemorative American flags to fly in the downtown to remember the horror of 9/11, and commemorate the innocent lives taken that awful day.

Watchdog Wire takes up the fight

Pendragon is from Amherst.  Shocked, shocked I say

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day Eve

School Superintendent Maria Geryk welcomes crowd, Marta Guevara waits to translate into Espanol

A good sized crowd turned out on the town common late this afternoon for the 4th annual "First Day" back to school party celebration, a pep rally for students, family and school staff.

Parents are certainly in the mood to celebrate.

 Crowd listens to the Middle School Choir

The event was rescheduled to an earlier start time in response to the EEE mosquito paranoia which proved fortuitous as angry skies started threatening almost as soon as the event started at 5:00 PM and opened up into a downpour around 6:00 PM cutting the event short by a half hour.

Certainly not a harbinger of stormy things to come.

Wildwood Principal Nick Yaffe is excited about tomorrow

Mark Jackson, Amherst Regional High School Principal

Sam The Minuteman works the crowd

A Grim Reminder

 Ghost Bike to commemorate the death of Livingston Pangburn

Over the next few days thousands of college students will stream past this memorial, erected soon after Amherst College graduation day last May 26th, when a tragedy occurred around 4:00 PM on a busy Sunday afternoon.

The cycle of being a college town means the two busiest weekends of the year are when our institutes of higher education go on hiatus for the summer via graduations,  and now when they reopen for the start of the fall semester.

Hampshire College will be shy one gifted student, Livingston Pangburn, age 22, most recently from nearby Granby. 

He was descending a somewhat steep hill heading east on College Street when a panel truck heading west took a left into the Amherst College east entrance.

 Amherst College East Entrance, College Street looking east

A fatal collision resulted.

According to a recent email response from Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Pepyne:  "The  investigation of this accident has not been completed.  The Mass. State Police Collision and Accident Reconstruction (CARS) team generally takes three to four months to complete an investigation."

I've noticed, however, with these tragic fatal accidents that the longer it takes the less likely charges will be brought against the driver.

Either way, it doesn't bring back Liv Pangburn.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Amherst's Twin Towers

Boltwood Place under construction August, 2011

Boltwood Place, Amherst's first downtown tall building in more than a generation, will soon have a sister clone rising into the not so rarefied air, only in this case not quite as close in proximity as those iconic Twin Towers knocked down on 9/11.

Kendrick Place lot (near Bertucci's)

Archipelago Investments LLC will go before the Planning Board on September 18 seeking approval for Kendrick Place -- a five story, mixed used building located at the very Gateway to UMass on the corner of Triangle Street and East Pleasant directly opposite Kendrick Park.

 Boltwood Place today

The views alone from the Penthouse suites will be worth the lease payments.

The new building will also be LEED certified, and co-developer David Williams is hoping for Platinum Certification one step up from Boltwood Place's Gold Certification.

Kyle Wilson standing, David Williams seated

Archipelago is currently before the Planning Board seeking a Special Permit for the construction of a 75 unit, 236 bed dormitory style development on Olympia Drive known as Olympia Place.  The private (therefor on the tax rolls) student housing project would replace a run down rowdy frat house.

These visionaries also instigated the joint project between UMass and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority for the ill fated Gateway Project, a mixed use plan that would have created badly needed student housing and high end commercial space in a prime location connecting UMass to Amherst downtown.

Archipelago Investments LLC is transforming the landscape of Amherst -- both figuratively and literally.  It's about time. 


The Gazette caught up with this story about 8 hours later (on the web) and it appears in print today, Wednesday.  Odd headline.  Originally they used "Second Apartment Building Proposed For downtown Amherst" but then changed it before going to print.

1:00 PM
Now they've changed the digital headline for a 3rd time (much better) and added this nifty stock photo.  But they can't exactly recall the 20,000 or so printed editions delivered this morning with the odd "ups ante" headline.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

DUI Dishonor Role

APD administers FST on Sunday 4:15 PM

Yesterday around 4:00 PM, among a swarm of returning college students, one young lady called 911 to report an "erratic driver" in a gray mini van coming towards town center from the north (Pine/Bridge streets).

The van took a left on East Pleasant Street and assumed a straight line course, although occasionally "all over the road," towards the heart of a bustling downtown Amherst.

Amherst police intercepted the vehicle at the very outskirts of town center and had her pull over in the parking lot of "The Pub," where they administered a "Field Sobriety Test".  She failed. 

Arrested for Driving Under the Influence, Operating to endanger and reckless driving:

Maria C. Domenici, 229 Leverett Rd, Shutesbury, MA, age 64

Flag Flap Deja Vu

Town flies flag daily (as does every municipality in Mass)

On August 27, almost exactly a year ago, the Amherst Select Board refused to allow the commemorative flags to fly in the downtown on 9/11.  Since the issue was officially on the agenda that night a simply majority vote could have made it happen.  

Two of the Select Board members (Jim Wald and Alisa Brewer) have previously voted in the affirmative and Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe as a Town Meeting member voted to support the annual flying of the  flags on 9/11.

Last year the SB did meet again on 9/10 (oddly enough they are not meeting on Monday September 9 this year) and I again appeared before them -- this time during 6:30 PM "Public Comment" -- to make a last desperate plea to fly the flags.  

But knowing they would not I also made a  request the board put this issue to rest once and for all.  


With a simply majority vote the Select Board can place an advisory question on the annual town election ballot.  I promised that night to abide by the direct decision of the voters.  I even returned to a Select Board meeting in March to remind them of the request.  They refused.  

So here we are ... again. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

When BANANAs Attack

Vince O'Connor far left, David Williams front, Kyle Wilson center

If you ever wondered why almost nothing ever gets built in the bucolic college town of Amherst, just peruse these snippets from last Wednesday's 3.5 hour Planning Board meeting.

40 year activist, or should I say "community organizer," Vince O'Connor had a good point or two concerning parking -- or lack thereof -- at the newly proposed "Olympia Place," a 75 unit dormitory style (private) student housing development springing up where a rowdy defunct frat house currently stands.

But he kind of went overboard attacking the height of the building with his medieval serfs vs the castle metaphor.

Since moving to North Amherst only a few years ago Melissa Perot has become the Joan of Arc for slaying development.  But she can get on your nerves (and I'm pretty sure it's not the accent).

North Amherst resident Melissa Perot railing against development before Town Meeting

Town Meeting approved "mixed use development" zoning in village centers last session, and the Planning Board was discussing a minor technical tweak ... but that didn't stop Ms. Perot from launching into a do over of the battle she and fellow NIMBYs lost by a more than two-thirds vote.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

War Over "The Retreat" Continues

 Landmark Properties has agreed to "save the salamanders"


Where you stand on the Retreat depends on where you sit.

Jack Hirsch, whose column appears in this week's Amherst Bulletin, lives in Cushman, so it makes sense that he doesn't want to see open space near his house turned into a student housing development.

I live near the Regional Middle School, and have three student houses within 200 feet of me (the closest house to the Retreat will be more than 300 feet away). I think it makes sense for student housing to be clustered together, under close supervision, rather than spread out on residential streets, in houses owned by absentee landlords.

In my Bulletin column of Aug. 16, I gave three reasons why I think this development is in the interest of the town as a whole. In this week's Bulletin, Hirsch responds to two of my reasons – and ignores the third.

First, I argued that the Retreat will bring in $395,000 a year, as estimated by the town assessor, in desperately needed tax revenue. Hirsch maintains that Landmark Properties, the owners of the Retreat, may not pay their taxes.

There's no evidence that Landmark has been a tax evader in other towns where it has built student housing. And even if it didn't pay its taxes, Town Hall could easily put a lien on the property until payments were made.

Jack Hirsch ill-fated presentation to Amherst Town Meeting

I thought Hirsch was going to say that the $395,000 would be offset by increased costs for police and roads, as some Cushman residents have maintained. Maybe he's realized the absurdity of that argument. Some of the $395,000 might be offset by increased costs, but it's well established that the biggest loser for the town in the tax-vs.-expense calculus is single-family houses (like the ones in Cushman). 

That's because of the cost of educating children (the Amherst elementary schools spend $17,000 per student). The Retreat will not have many tenants with children in the schools.

Second, I argued that if Amherst continues to resist new student housing, speculators will have even more incentive to buy up single-family houses when they come on the market and convert them to student rentals. That's because the demand for rentals will far exceed the supply. 

First-time home-buyers will have a harder time competing with speculators, and there will be more conflict between students and longtime residents.

Hirsch responds that there are 14,000 UMass students living in the Amherst area, so the 700 beds in the Retreat wouldn't make a difference. UMass plans to expand its student population, so any contribution to the housing stock will reduce the flow of students onto residential streets. Those extra students won't go away if the Retreat isn't built; they'll just live in neighborhoods like mine. 

Hirsch did not respond to my information that many of the houses northeast of the Retreat site have had septic system failures, and are close to tributaries of the Atkins Reservoir, a major source of Amherst's drinking water. 

When the Retreat is built, the developer will pay to extend the sewer line to Flat Hills Road, making it much less expensive for the town to extend it to the streets with failing septic systems.

This was not speculation; it was the opinion of the superintendent of public works. The Cushman people like to present their cause as being environmentally virtuous, defending the spotted salamanders that live on part of the Retreat site and decrying the cars the students would have (but why would they drive them to campus, where there's little parking, rather than take the bus?) 

I'm not surprised that Hirsch ignores the news that the Retreat would help clean up an environmental hazard caused by his neighbors.
Stop The Retreat:  Campaign is starting to list

The letters written by Cushman residents, and the red-and-white signs they've convinced friends in other parts of town to put on their lawns, may lead some people to believe that Amherst will be voting on whether to allow the Retreat. No such vote will take place, because Landmark Properties has a legal right to built student housing on this land. 

The plan will be reviewed by the Planning Board and Conservation Commission, but they don't have the power to reject it. These two panels and the Select Board voted nearly unanimously not to have the town buy the land to prevent the development.

It isn't clear to me how “Save Historic Cushman” plans to stop the Retreat. Will the opponents lie down in front of the bulldozers? The organization has hired an expensive Concord attorney, who has filed an appeal in Land Court maintaining that the Retreat is a dormitory, which is prohibited in this zoning district. 

More appeals will probably follow, in an attempt to delay the Retreat. But in San Marcos, Texas, it took Landmark 20 years before before it got approval to build the student development. Are the Cushman residents willing to keep paying their attorney that long? 

For now, they are willing to have the town spend public money on their appeals.

I think they should use their time and energy lobbying Sen. Stan Rosenberg, soon to be the Senate president, to get a law change that would allow a public-private partnership to build taxable housing on property owned by UMass. 

That would provide clustered student housing near the campus, but allow Amherst to reap the tax benefits.

The Retreat may have some negative consequences on Cushman, chiefly weekend traffic, but the neighborhood will still be “historic.” For Amherst as a whole, the Retreat has substantial benefits.

Nick Grabbe is a former Amherst Bulletin editor/reporter and a long time Amherst resident.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Search For Affordable Housing Solutions

 Housing & Sheltering Comm Co-Chairs: Greg Stutsman left, Nancy Gregg to his left

On Wednesday morning the Housing & Sheltering Committee voted unanimously NOT to recommend to the Amherst Select Board they support passage of House Bill No. 2225 "An act relative to the definition of low and moderate income housing."

The bill if passed would essentially water down the requirements imposed on cites and towns to maintain a 10% ratio of "affordable" housing stock by allowing mobile homes to be counted as affordable.

Co-Chair Greg Stutsman told the committee he "couldn't recommend trying to create a loophole."

After hearing public comment from knowledgeable observer Walter Wolnik the committee agreed to take up discussion at their next meeting of spearheading a campaign to modify the Pacheco Rule, which currently restricts UMass from working with private developers to build student housing.

In a recent column in the Amherst Bulletin UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy cited  UMass  as "the third-largest residential campus in the nation," and went on to declare "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."

Due to the overwhelming influence of higher education, college students make up over half the town's population.  And this demographic is inadequately served, as any large off campus housing proposal over the past 30 years must survive a gauntlet of well armed NIMBY opposition, which few have managed to do.

As a result single family homes dispersed throughout Amherst neighborhoods are snapped up by investors who subdivide the units into student rooming houses that sometimes mimic the antics of "Animal House".

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Freedom From Controversy?

The Brits got it right

If Norman Rockwell were alive and working today he could use Amherst as a model for a fifth freedom:  "The Freedom From Controversy." 

Only he would use Amherst as an example of how not to go about it.

Last August 27 the Amherst Select Board pocket vetoed flying the 29 commemorative flags on 9/11.  Within days it made news in both the Gazette and Springfield Republican and our local TV stations.

The Republican/MassLive article was picked up and prominently displayed on New York based September 11th Families' Association website where it was spotted by Fox News, which led to an appearance on their highly rated "Fox and Friends" a week before the sad anniversary.

This year, apparently, they are not taking any chances:

Click to enlarge/read

Amherst Loses Vital Protection

Rolling Green Apartments, 204 units

Rolling Green Apartments owner Equity Residential gave official notice to the Amherst Housing Authority earlier this week that they will indeed pay off their remaining subsidized mortgage and bring 41 formerly affordable units up to market rate.

And while it may sound a bit like the tail wagging the dog, the loss of those 41 units means the entire 204 unit complex falls off the town's Subsidized Housing Inventory, dropping Amherst to 8.5% -- well below the 10% threshold required for fending off a Ch40B development. 

As of September 1st a developer could file a Chapter 40B housing project and build pretty much whatever they want as long as 25% of the units are "affordable."

Town officials had thought they bought a one-year reprieve with the recently completed "Housing Production Plan," but as part of that plan the town has to produce 0.50% of the town’s year-round housing stock, or 48 units of affordable housing annually (not lose 204 units!).

Bad news part 2:  Town planning staff just learned the state is not going to accept the 42 affordable units coming on line at Olympia Oaks because that project was in the works W-A-Y before the Housing Production Plan was completed (March, 2013).

Other than Olympia Oaks, the only affordable housing on the near horizon are six units at President Apartments proposed expansion.  In other words, without Olympia Oaks the town stands zero chance of a one year Ch40B reprieve.

The fall of Rolling Green has been on town officials radar for almost six years.  On September 1st, it happens.  So now when a developer comes a calling, no matter how many NIMBYs protest the proposed Ch40B development, IT WILL HAPPEN.

(Which, considering our exceedingly tight housing market, may not be a bad thing.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Devil In The Details

Building Commissioner Rob Morra right, Pat Kamins on his right

The Safe & Health Neighborhoods Working Group -- perhaps the most successful committee in recent history in a town overrun with committees -- has begat another working subgroup also appointed by Town Manger John Musante tasked with planning  "implementation" of the Rental Permit bylaw.

Amherst Town Meeting  overwhelming passed the historic bylaw on May 20th, and it goes into effect January 1st.  Building Commissioner Rob Morra told the new group today that he has an "aggressive schedule" in mind to make that January 1st deadline.

The estimated number of properties that will require registration is around 1,500 

Three of the four Rental Bylaw Implementation Group members attended today's kick off meeting -- Pat Kamins, property manager, Phil Jackson, homeowner, Maurianne Adams, member of  Coalition of Amherst Neighborhoods.  Jacob Lefton, a tenant and frequent critic at the Safe & Healthy Neighborhood Working Group meetings, is the fourth member of the group but was on vacation.

 Other side of the table.  Phil Jackson center

One major complaint about SHNWG was the lack of a tenant on the 15 member committee.

At one point the fledgling Rental Bylaw Implementation group was outnumbered 4-1 by concerned citizens who came to the meeting -- for the most part -- to complain about the new system.  The committee has decided to have a "public comment" period as part of their meetings as did the Safe and Healthy Neighbourhoods Working Group.

Rob Morra said the implementation of the new system is being done in-house and he hopes the Information Technology department will have a system in place by October 1st for online registration and one stop shopping cart for all the forms required to make the system work.

The Amherst Select Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on a registration fee in late September.  The Safe and Health Neighborhood Working Group already recommended the fee be set at $100, but it remains to be seen if multi-unit owners or large apartment complexes will pay that fee per unit or just once per mailing address.

For instance will Rolling Green Apartments pay $100 or $20,400 to register all 204 units at their 1 Rolling Green Drive location?

The Rental Bylaw Implementation Group  scheduled meetings for three consecutive Tuesdays next month: September 10, 17th and 24th.

The rental permit system is the town's response to a chorus of complaints over the past many years about overcrowded, unsafe, disruptive rental housing owned by absentee landlords preying on tenants in a very tight rental market.

Coming soon

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Sterling Review ... Well, Almost

Amherst Select Board review of Town Manager John Musante this evening

As expected the Select Board annual review of Town Manager John Musante, our highest ranking but only second highest paid town employee, was a cordial affair with fiscal matters garnering across the board highest "commendable" ratings from all five SB members.

But a dark cloud or two appeared on the otherwise sunny landscape with the issue of dealing with the town's surplus buildings garnering  "unsatisfactory" rating from Alisa Brewer, Diana Stein, and Aaron Hayden while the other two checked off "needs improvement". 

But when referencing things that need improvement SB Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe was quick to remind the board that overall the review was "overwhelmingly positive."

The only other "unsatisfactory" rating came from Alisa Brewer for communication issues, like reading things in the newspapers before the board has been apprised about an issue.

 Alisa Brewer:  Most critical but also most effusive

She mentions "dropping the ball" with  the "Blarney Blowout" where things were reported as going well in the downtown that Saturday, but all hell broke loose in North Amherst -- not that the newspapers figured that out very quickly.

And the recent Rental Bylaw Implementation Group was announced on the pages of the Daily Hampshire Gazette before the Select Board was informed (maybe the Town Manager figures they no longer read the Gazette).

Town Manager speaking to Town Meeting in favor of Rental Registration Bylaw

The Town Manager also received high marks for his relations with the Select Board and Town Meeting, with three SB members giving him across the board highest rating and O'Keeffe and Brewer looking for improvement.

Other areas that need improvement are communications with the general public and lower echelon (non management level) town employees.  Staff morale  -- especially in the fire department and DPW -- could also be better.

The handling of housing issues, what many believe to be the #1 problem facing Amherst today, also garnered the concern of the Select Board.  Especially affordable housing.

The about-to-occur loss of Rolling Green's 204 apartment units from the town's Subsidized Housing Inventory is pretty much a disaster.  

They're Back!

Amherst Rotary Town Fair setting up today

And I use that title in a good way (for both entities) as opposed to that scary Hollywood way.

Nothing says small town all Americana like streets lined with flags, a July 4th Parade, or traveling fair setting up on the town green. 

Well, at least Amherst is one for three.

Yes the Amherst Rotary Town Fair returns for a follow up engagement this week, just as the town begins to shake off its summer lethargy.  Get ready for rides, carny food, thrills and spills ... not necessarily in that order.

Date/Time Information:
August 21st hours:4-10pm
August 22nd-24th hours:12-10pm

Also in time for the town fair, those young vivacious cogs in our econcomic wheel are also returning, like swallows to Capistrano:  Students.   About 5,500 of them first timers.

Let the lessons begin.

 Welcome Back Consumers

Opportunity Lost?

Last year at the 8/27 Amherst Select Board meeting Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe did not even allow the board, our executive branch, to vote on the request to fly the 29 commemorative flags in the downtown on 9/11.

The town routinely flies the flags, purchased in the summer of 2001,  on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Patriots Day and yes, even Labor Day (coming soon).

But in her closing remarks she was "sure Mr Kelley would bring this back next year, and he should do that."

And even Select Board member Aaron Hayden (who always votes "No") also remarked that night "This is an opportunity for us to really sort of put our heads together and be thoughtful, out loud, about important issues -- clearly important issues -- so I do appreciate that opportunity."

Now it's beginning to look like the issue will not even be allowed on the agenda for the SB 8/26 meeting, the last meeting prior to that awful anniversary. The old ignore it and hope it goes away routine.

So much for appreciating "that opportunity." 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Tragic Reminder

Tip of the North Tower, after the fall

Memo: Amherst Select Board
Re: Annual Request to remember/honor 3,000 murdered Americans

Since the Select Board will not have a "Public Comment/Question" period on Monday, August 19 and since the SB only meets one more time prior to that stunningly sad anniversary, please consider this a formal request to place on the August 26 agenda for public discussion the unresolved issue of allowing the 29 commemorative flags to fly in the downtown on 9/11/13, the 12th anniversary of the most heinous attack on American soil in our entire history.

Furthermore I would request 9/11 be added to current list of six days the commemorative flags fly annually.

I would also point out that one of those approved occasions is Memorial Day, not exactly "celebratory" -- but a national day of mourning and remembrance for those who perished protecting our most cherished freedoms.  

One of which is to "petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Thank you,

Larry Kelley

From: Stephanie O'Keeffe
To: Larry Kelley
Cc: Select Board ; John Musante ; David Ziomek
Sent: Sat, Aug 17, 2013 2:07 pm
Subject: Re: 9/11
Larry --
If any Select Board member supports the request that this be put on the 8/26 agenda, I will schedule it and let you know.

Take care.


From: Larry Kelley
To: stephanie
Cc: selectboard ; MusanteJ ; ZiomekD
Sent: Mon, Aug 19, 2013 7:41 am
Subject: Re: 9/11


Since I am now getting numerous inquiries could you please announce at tonight's SB meeting
one way or the other whether flying the flags on 9/11 will be placed on the 8/26 agenda? I know tonight's meeting is only a single issue affair concerning the Town Manager's evaluation but I did note the item "Calendar Preview:Upcoming Meeting Plans" on the agenda.And 9/11 is upcoming.
Thanks, Larry

 Somewhat stunning reaction on Facebook, ghost of Jennie Traschen

Thursday, August 15, 2013

DUI Dishonor Roll

Only two Amherst DUI arrests last week.  I say "only" because that number will start to go up to the usual four or five as our sleepy little college town awakens to a massive population bulge brought on by returning staff and students to our #1 employer, UMass/Amherst. 

In this particular batch -- Nicholas Coelho, age 22 and Christopher R Getchell, age 30 -- only one of the two arrested is UMass associated; let's hope he doesn't actually drive a bus. 

Drive Hammered, Get Slammered
Click link above

The North Will Rise Again

Trolley Barn:  12,000 square feet 3 floors, mixed use (Kuhn Riddle Architects)

North Amherst is on economic roll these days with The Retreat a high end 190 or so unit student housing enclave finally starting to move forward, and last night's unveiling before the Conservation Commission of the new-and-improved Trolley Barn, a three story, 12,000 square foot, mixed use commercial building set where a trolley barn once stood.

Original Trolley Barn Cowles Road North Amherst, built 1897

And yes, a trolley barn is where you store a trolley (or two), long since vanished from the Amherst landscape. Well, except for those imitation ones in the downtown.

The 4,000 square foot first floor will be commercial/retail, and management is hoping to sign up a breakfast or coffee shop,  or Atkins Farm type operation -- something that helps to build community.

The other two floors will be residential although since Town Meeting shot down a zoning density tweak, the individual units will each be 2,000 square feet, fit for a Donald Trump.

Location, location, location

Since Town Meeting did pass zoning allowing for greater height the building was redesigned, removing dormers along the roof thus saving costs and providing more usable space.

North Amherst, because of its industrial past, was once dubbed the "Dirty hands district."

Cleaning up quite well in the modern era.  

Previous design with stricter height limits (Kuhn Riddle Architects)

 New banner Rt. 116 North Amherst