Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Story of the Year 2013

 APD, State PD and UMPD gather at west entrance to Townhouse Apartments

The war on off campus student rowdyism took a serious turn during 2013 and that turning point was the Blarney Blowout, Amherst's version of the Mardi Gras or Florida's Spring Break -- only seasoned with a tad more violence.

As usual good weather was a contributing factor but by far, marketing was the #1 reason for the out-of-control debauchery.

Downtown bars -- most notably McMurphy's and Stackers -- used social media to hype the "Blarney Blowout" promotion, a bait and switch name change from "Kegs & Eggs" which had drawn sharp criticism over the previous ten years for promoting bad behavior i.e. drinking in the morning.

In 2012 the Blarney Blowout had contributed to awful visuals in the downtown and an unusual strain on public safety, including an incident where a drunken college aged male hit on an 11-year-old girl.  The Select Board used their bully pulpit to chastise the pernicious promotion, but as the town's Liquor Commissioners did nothing to penalize the offenders.

So it should not have been too hard to figure out , even if you don't have sitemeters, that the Blarney Blowout, March 9, 2013 was going to be bad day for civility.  Really bad.

The promotion started at 11:00 AM (my first published report was 11:07 AM) and all eyes were focused on the downtown.  Meanwhile crowds, mostly dressed in green,  were gathering at Townhouse Apartments in North Amherst where violence had erupted the year before.

 Entire quad taken up by revelers

The crowd grew to over 2,000 taking up the entire quad and beer cans (some of them full) and snowballs started to fly.  A young woman in the center of the mob passes out from too much alcohol (ETOH) and AFD is called.

 Note UFO

When police and EMTs try to get to the young lady lost in the crowd the mob became uncooperative.  Objects now started flying in their direction. Public Safety personnel retreated after pulling the young woman from the crowd.

ETOH female (age 17) loaded into the ambulance under police escort

Over the next few hours, under the influence of a lot more beer, the crowd would only get surlier.  Vandalism starts to take place.  APD had put out an SOS after the incident with the ETOH female, with many State Police and UMPD officers responding to the call -- all of them dressed in riot gear.

A little after 5:00 PM they uniformly moved in, quickly dispersing the huge crowd while making six arrests.

Moments after police dispersed the unruly crowd

At the following Select Board meeting irate members -- particularly Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe -- blamed UMass for not putting out sternly worded emails to students and parents before the weekend.  UMass -- via a Letter to the Editor from PR guru John Kennedy -- blamed the town for allowing the promotion.

Of course the Select Board, unlike previous years, had not given the bars permission to open early that day and since advertising via social media is protected by the First Amendment there is little they could have done prevent the promotion.

But the acrimony led to UMass announcing it would donate $40,000 per semester so AFD could run two extra ambulances on weekends; and more importantly, the disturbing incident convinced the two major powers that something structural needed to be done.

 Chancellor Subbaswamy addresses Amherst Town Meeting 5/15/13

For the first time in history a UMass Chancellor came to spring Town Meeting to champion town/gown relations.  The $30,000 warrant article (matched by $30,000 from UMass)  to hire a consultant passed, leading to the formation of the Town Gown Steering Committee, a heavy hitter group of top UMass and Town officials that mirrored the ultra successful Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group.

The SHNWG formulated a Rental Registration and Permit Bylaw, the most important legislation passed by Town Meeting in a generation, and a direct outgrowth of last year's "Story of the Year".  

The Town Gown Steering Committee finished up a Request For Proposals a few weeks ago and will continue to meet after the consultant issues a report.

After all, implementation is the key. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Firefighters Ratify New Contract

A parade of AFD hardware

Amherst Firefighters Local Union 1764 voted to accept the recent three year contract offered to them by the town which provides a 2% raise but brings a bit more security to the citizenry they serve in Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury and Hadley by upping the minimum staffing level from seven to eight professional firefighters per shift (when UMass is in session).

In The Line Of Duty

It really doesn't matter if officer Dmitry Makovkin knew he was going to die, whether he consciously embraced 22 pounds of high explosives to muffle the deadly blast, or he was simply acting instinctively to subdue a suspicious perp. 

The fact remains his selfless split-second actions saved countless lives, almost all of them innocent civilians.  At the ultimate price of his own life, cut w-a-y too short at age 29.

I always thought the police motto "To protect and to serve" was an American thing.  Not any more. 

Thoughtful Customers

 Food For Thought Books ends the year on a positive note

Food For Thought Books will live to see their 38th year in business thanks to generous customers who came together via the Indiegogo fundraising site to the tune of over $40,000.  Not bad considering the goal was $38,000.  Actually not bad period. 

The left of center bookstore has been a mainstay in the downtown since the early 1970s back before Al Gore invented the Internet.  But now, everything has changed -- and bookstores, newspapers and video rental stores are under the gun.  More like an assault rifle. 

Meanwhile just around the corner, fair and balanced Amherst Books -- also in a building owned by Barry Roberts -- seems to be weathering the storm. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Banned In Amherst

Cumbys come into compliance

Cumberland Farms is no longer serving their 99 cent coffee to go in Styrofoam containers, coming into compliance with the Amherst polystyrene packaging ban that goes into effect January 1st. 

They are now using paper coated in wax with a high gloss plastic-like  exterior which certainly feels the same as polystyrene.

I buried one of each variety in my back yard and will dig them up in 25 years and let you know if the new one passes the biodegradable test.

Meanwhile, Dunkin' Donuts (at least the one on University Drive) is still using polystyrene; but hey, they have another two days.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Freedom's Just Another Word

Washington Monument (still feeling the effects of an earthquake)

Screw the NSA!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

And Another One Gone

 UMass Football coach  Charley Molnar heads to the unemployment line

In addition to the $6,312,074 UMass FBS gamble is projected to cost this Fiscal Year (on top of the $5,644,099 it cost/lost last year) you can now add another cool $1 million to buy out the remaining three years of coach Molnar's contract and a couple other coaches who were pushed into falling upon their swords.

And yes, remember it also cost a cool $1 million to buy out the previous coach Kevin Morris and staff, when UMass brought in Molnar to make the BIG jump to FBS.  A million here and a million there, pretty soon you're talking real money.

Maybe higher authorities in the food chain should start fearing the thud of an ax.

Twitter has the solution

As does Reddit

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Then There Were None

12/24/13 Kendrick Park

As always seems to be the case the Boy Scouts sold the last of their Christmas trees, just as we head into the day.

And all is right with the world, even in Amherst.

That Too Is Banned @ ARPS


According to the Amherst Regional Public Schools handbook, under Code of Conduct:  

Lockers are the property of the Amherst Regional High School. In a search and seizure situation, the student who has been assigned the locker may be given the opportunity to be present. This will occur only when a student’s personal possessions are being checked and the student’s presence does not present a threat to that student’s safety or to the safety of others. Contraband found in the course of a search of a student’s locker, bag or person will be confiscated and, if appropriate, turned over to the Amherst Police Department. Disposition of contraband turned over to the APD is the responsibility of the police.

Around noon Friday via scanner traffic I heard the familiar voice of an APD detective tell Dispatch he was en route to Amherst Regional High School, 21 Matoon Street, to retrieve drug paraphernalia so it could be destroyed.

General weekly logs posted to town website

When I requested under Public Documents law the (more extensive) "media log"  for that particular incident it was, err, somewhat redacted:

The reason I'm told for such NSA type secrecy is that the incident involves a juvenile; and it's an "open incident." So be it.

Now it's even more open.

APD Cites A Grinch

Amherst Brewing Company

Amherst Police cited a drunk woman for stealing an Amherst Fire Department donation jar at the Amherst Brewing Company late Saturday night. Let's hope tomorrow Santa leaves her nothing but coal.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sincerest form of flattery?

So maybe the kiddies think this parody account is cute, but it clearly violates Twitter rules.  And yes Twitter is still a tiny bit like the Wild, Wild West -- but there are rules governing "parody accounts," just as there are laws against identity theft.

Even worse, they broke the #1 rule of parody accounts:  Their tweets aren't all that  funny. (Well, except for the one about HS Principal Mark Jackson).

Now this is a (funny) parody account:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Car vs Pedestrian Accident Town Center

 Scene is well lit but wet

Amherst and State Police are still on scene in the heart of downtown Amherst investigating a car vs pedestrian accident that sent two victims to area hospitals the more serious to Bay State Critical Care unit in Springfield and the other minor injury, said to be a female child, taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for an arm injury.

The accident occurred around 6:45 PM in between Brueggers Bagels and Ren's Mobile on North Pleasant Street, just past the intersection with Kellogg Avenue.  There is no crosswalk where the car stopped.

Mass State PD accident reconstruction team on scene

Progress Indeed

Heroin:  No way to make progress

One of those funny "Oops" moments in this morning's (Springfield) The Republican newspaper:  placing a photo of heroin with "Obamacare" stamped on each package seized the other day by State Police a tad too close to lead story about President Obama giving a year end review of his job performance.

Of course some conservatives think the President must have been under the influence of something to have come up with such a rosy outlook.

And Another One Gone

At least they ceased operation via their own choosing (owners are retiring), unlike a lot of small businesses who shuttered their doors this past year in Amherst, and the rest of the nation.

Friday, December 20, 2013

And Another One Gone

197 Amity Street

Although it took over 200 years for this (now not so merry) Maple to grow thick and sturdy, it only took a day to make it go away.  

 200+ rings

But a part of the tree will live on as one of the workers cut a slab out of the base to use as a front door at his old house. 

A door in the making

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nuts Ban In Amherst Schools

Hi Larry:
I received your request for a copy of the report from the Wellness Committee about the consumption of nuts on school property.  With regard to the wellness subcommittee’s recommendation, I thought it might be helpful to outline the process I followed and the information I considered in establishing the allergy aware guidelines.   As per Policy ADF: Wellness, a subcommittee of the Wellness Committee was tasked with studying life-threatening allergies in the schools. The outcome of their work was the Life Threatening Allergy Guidelines document which was submitted to Dr. Brady and me for review. We fully reviewed this document, as well as the DESE guidelines, both of which note that surfaces need to be washed with appropriate cleaning materials before and after each meal period and that students must wash their hands with soap and water before and after eating. Recent CDE guidelines also support these measures.  These steps are to ensure that we minimize cross-contamination of tables, desks and other surfaces. 

Our schools have close to 100 students with peanut/tree nut allergies who, like all students, must be provided with the safest possible learning environment. The districts had already taken steps to that end, including eliminating peanuts and tree nuts from our food service program three years ago, and asking students not to eat on the buses two years ago. These steps were far from perfect, however.   We heard from a few families that they would not comply with student specific/class specific requests to avoid peanut/tree nut products unless it was a standard held for all students and faculty.  Also, Dr. Brady and I had significant concerns about the schools’ ability to implement the recommended safety guidelines with fidelity since we cannot ensure that all students are complying with hand washing, and we cannot ensure that all surfaces are cleaned properly since students eat in multiple locations, including snacks in their classrooms.  After much deliberation, my decision was to take what I believe to be the logical next step and ask all families and staff to refrain from bringing peanut and tree nut products into our schools. To support this, paragraph four on page one, which includes “allergy aware” language, was added to the Life Threatening Allergy Guidelines.  Even though we now exclude peanuts and tree nut products in our schools, we will continue to follow appropriate guidelines as well and to stress the continued education of students and staff regarding allergies.
The final document is attached.

>>> Larry Kelley <amherstac@aol.com> 12/19/2013 4:57 PM >>>

So the Wellness Committee or sub-committee never recommended "ban nuts on school property during school hours", correct?

Sent: Thu, Dec 19, 2013 5:16 pm
Subject: Re: Public Records Request

Hi Larry,
That is correct- the subcommittee created the guidelines and I determined that we could not fully implement those with fidelity. Given that reality,  I was not comfortable with the risk for our students and took the additional steps of "banning" tree nuts and peanuts.

>>> Larry Kelley <amherstac@aol.com> 12/19/2013 5:20 PM >>>
Hey Maria,

So are you now comfortable with the word "ban"?  Or is it still just a strong suggestion?



Sent: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 9:26 am
Subject: Re: Public Records Request

Hello Larry,
I've always been OK with acknowledging this as "you can't bring in tree nuts/peanuts." I want to be careful when using a term "ban" because I want to walk the line between sending a strong message that you can't bring this into our schools, and the reality that people with life threatening allergies must continue to be vigilent. I don't want to send the message that we can ever guarantee safety. In addition, we don't want to give the message that a student will be in "trouble" if they forget and bring in a peanut butter sandwich. For most people, the word ban is equated with a disciplinary response.
The term allergy aware is used to communicate the message that these guidelines are in place to help students avoid allergic reactions.  The guidelines include a number of other practices that are also part of the "allergy aware" school description. The goal is that combining these steps, including having no nut or nut products in the schools,will provide the safest environment for our students. 
Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify.

Free Speech Is A 2 Way Street

I had never heard of -- let alone watched -- Duck Dynasty, until yesterday.  Now I've certainly heard of it.  But no, I'm not about to start watching.  Or start a subscription to GQ Magazine.

Since the punishment for voicing an opinion offensive to some is termination from a reality TV show that seems to have a h-u-g-e following, cries of censorship and infringement of the First Amendment are being bandied about.

Since the agency invoking the punishment (A&E Network) is not the government, the First Amendment simply does not apply.  But certainly free speech -- as in the freedom to speak your mind -- is being infringed upon, because Phil Robinson is being punished for exactly that: speaking his mind.

While I strongly disagree with his opinions about gays, I will defend to the death his right to be wrong.

Although I did agree with his follow up comment:  "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me.  We are all created by the Almighty and like Him I love all of humanity.  We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."

If a large number of people are offended by his "speech" and can no longer stand the sight of him, then ratings will crash like a duck shot out of the sky.  Then A & E can cancel the show for lousy ratings.

Five years ago a prominent member of the Amherst Select Board wanted to have me arrested for mentioning (with a photo no less) in my usual forthright manner her clear violation of the residency requirement for the highest elected position in town government.

Interestingly enough she was also the one who told then Town Manager Barry Del Castilho NOT to issue a parade permit for the July 4th Parade because the private parade committee had rules forbidding political statements of any kind.

Now that was a clear violation of the First Amendment, upheld by a 9-0 Supreme Court decision.

As my friends at the ACLU would say, the way to deal with bad speech is with more good speech, not censorship.

"Many fans asked for my thoughts on the "Duck Dynasty" controversy. They pressed and pressed, but I refused to quack. But I can't duck this issue forever. I don't really care feather someone on a reality show said something about gays that didn't fit the bill. He's entitled to his opinion, even if it's for the birds. But the network also is worried about flocking with its base, so if it feels it should drake him over the coals for making his fowl comments, so be it. So that's migrate opinion."
--George Takei

Rental Permit Bylaw Upheld

Attorney General approves a bevy of Amherst Town Meeting bylaws

The road to the most important legislation passed by Town Meeting in over a generations has been rocky to say the least.  The Rental Registration Bylaw was bitterly opposed leading up to Town Meeting last Spring where it passed by a surprisingly w-i-d-e margin.

According to the state's Top Cop, "We acknowledge the letters and emails sent to us opposing the amendments adopted under Article 29 (Rental Registration Permit).  Interestingly the Attorney General's office goes on to say, "While we cannot conclude that any of these arguments furnish a basis for disapproval of the by-law, these letters and materials have aided our review."

One section of the bylaw states a registration form should be submitted to the "appropriate Town office."  Which in this case is the Principal Code Official (Rob Morra, Building Commissioner).  The AG has suggested the town clarify that section of the bylaw to identify the Principal Code official as the rental czar who issues permits, and can issue exemptions.

Apparently landlords had problems with the section of the bylaw that requires tenants to be made aware of the provisions of the new Rental Bylaw and inspection system, and that a copy of the lease be provided to the town.   The charge was that this is a violation of the "prohibition against regulation of a private civil relationship,"  which was used to strike down "rent control."

The AG found that section permissible because it is specifically limited. The boiler plate language in the bylaw clearly states: "Subject to and as limited by the Constitution of the Commonwealth."  So if a landlord finds something in the permit bylaw requirements that violates the state Constitution, then they can safely ignore it.

The new bylaw also requires the Select Board to appoint a Rental Appeals Board, to act as ombudsmen to help resolve issues amicably.  

Is the $100 permit fee a tax and therefor illegal because a municipality "has no independent power of taxation"?  The Attorney General thinks not. "Fees are collected not to raise revenues but to compensate the governmental entity providing the services for its expenses."

And in this case the Building Department has to hire a new full-time building inspector and administrative assistant to help oversee the program.  Amherst has identified 1,570 rental properties with a total of 5,265 individual rental units. That's a lot of oversight!

As of yesterday the Building Commissioner has received 160 applications (85% of them filed via the Internet) and issued permits for 56.  Or just a tiny bit over 10% of the rental properties in town. 

The law takes effect January 1st.

Town may want to think about stepping up PR outreach effort

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Select Board Contest Gets Interesting

Town Clerk's Tally Sheet 

So now we have four Amherst citizens who have "taken out papers" for Amherst Select Board, which has two seats (out of five) up for grabs at the March 25 annual election, as both incumbents decided to retire.

Because two seats are open voters get to vote twice -- but, obviously, not for one candidate.  So it's not a Chicago Boss Hog kind of thing; just a normal, legal Amherst way of dealing with multi-player positions like Select Board, where all five combined equal a Mayor.  Sort of.

The two latest entries are Helen Berg and Yeshaq Warren.  Ms Berg filed a warrant article for Amherst Town Meeting last spring to fund extra PVTA bus runs to the Survival Center on Sunderland Road, which was defeated.  Other than that, no extensive public service experience in town. 

Yeshaq Warren took out papers five years ago for Select Board but never handed them in because as he commented on my post at the time:  "I was just incarcerated so I could not turn them in."  Um, yeah, now there's a Hell of an excuse.

And only two years ago APD arrested Yeshaq Warren for "assaulting a pregnant woman."  So maybe he figures Amherst Select Board members, in addition to their whopping $300 annual pay, also get a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. 

Candidates have until February 4th to return their papers with the signatures of 50 registered voters. 

Not My Job


Back when I was working for United Parcel Service under the auspices of the Teamsters Union, where our hourly pay for unskilled labor was almost four times minimum wage (with full benefits), the non-Teamsters UPS foreman who were company men always said "please" and "thank you" when giving orders to us pack mules.  

Strangely enough, as simple a curtesy as it was, it actually helped to sooth the usual labor/management friction. Although when real issues arose, the fallout could be downright dangerous.

So I can see both sides of this grievance:  UMass police officers don't like being "inversed" to do work that is not spelled out in their contract, while their bosses want to ensure positive relations with the town of Amherst.

Meanwhile the hotspot areas saturated with students living off campus, don't get the full attention they deserve.  And it's the neighborhoods that will suffer.

So can we "please" figure this out before UMass comes back in session?

"Thank you!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DUI Dishonor Roll

About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders

Amherst Police arrested three drivers last week for Driving Under the Influence, or about the average number. And none of them were Umass students. But all of them are old enough to know better.

Lee Comstock, age 27, was pulled over in the heart of downtown Amherst by a Umass officer, so let's hope when he goes to trial the Judge doesn't simply throw it out because it was an officer outside his normal jurisdiction.

Just this past Friday an Amherst police officer was almost hit by an erratic driver on RT9 Hadley, so he pulled her over, but then waited for Hadley PD to arrive to make the arrest.

Another 27-year-old male, Mathew Haramut, was also pulled over very close to Amherst town center and arrested for DUI.  Notice it was his second offense, so you can probably guess why he was "unlicensed".  
And Meghan Keane, age 42, was arrested late Sunday night for driving under the influence with an an open container of said influencer in the vehicle.  She also drew attention to herself by crashing the vehicle.

A Really BIG Deal

 Town Manager to Select Board:  "Very, very close" (to a deal)

The five year "Strategic Agreement" with our #1 client for pubic services -- UMass/Amherst -- expired June 30, 2012.   But the contract was extended for one year after former Town Manager Larry Shaffer (and his secretary) suddenly left town just when the agreement was expiring.

Town Manager John Musante told the Select Board last night that a new "partnership" was "very, very close" to being a done deal.

The previous agreement paid the town $350,000 for ambulance protection but was supplemented recently by an additional $80,000 to cover extra AFD weekend staffing to keep up with a spike in demand, all too much of it alcohol related. 

But, the previous agreement also clearly stated:  "If in the future the town vacates Mark's Meadow, UMass may reimburse the town for a portion of the net cost of educating students living in university tax-exempt housing."

The town did indeed (amazingly) close down Mark's Meadow in 2009 -- saving $800,000 in town tax monies the first year.  But nobody ever bothered to reopen the "strategic agreement" to seek reimbursement for the most expensive municipal product Amherst produces:  education.

In 2009 ARPS reported 55 students enrolled from UMass tax exempt housing, and most recently (back in March, when the Town Manager requested the current figures) the number stood at 57.

At the current cost to Amherst taxpayers ($18,388 per pupil) for our elementary schools, that alone comes to $1 million.

 Current Emergency Response Statistics.  Graph courtesy Tom Valle Secretary Local 1764

UMass also absorbs about one-quarter of Amherst Fire Department services (Umass has a police department but not a fire department) and AFD's annual budget is $4.13 million, so that's another $900,000 in UMass costs borne by Amherst taxpayers. 

In 2010 the University of Vermont (10,459 undergrads, 1,540 grad students) paid Burlington (population 42,282 with one-third of all property tax exempt) $1,100,000 or THREE times what the University of Massachusetts (21,373 undergrads, 6,196 grad students) paid Amherst (population 34,874, with one-half of all property tax exempt).

And UVM has their own ambulance service!

Therefore, no matter what the spinmeisters at UMass News and Media Relations say, anything less than $1 million per year for our "partnership" over the next five years is a bad deal.    

Figures Don't Lie

RKG VP Kyle Talente appears before Planning Board Housing & Shelter Committees

As has become the routine with any public meeting remotely concerning housing, the joint meeting of the Planning Board and Housing & Sheltering Committee last week to hear yet another housing study report became an opportunity for citizens to poke and prod in general and -- in particular -- air complaints about the town's biggest bogeyman, student housing.

Originally the $30,000 study, an outgrowth of the now dead Gateway Project (killed by the very same NIMBYs) , was to ascertain the market for non student housing. But as President Kennedy once observed, "A rising tide lifts all boats."  And in Amherst, the student housing market is a tsunami.

The usual suspects

According to the consultant, "There's a mismatch between supply and demand.  Students price out folks.  Until that need is met it will continue to happen."  Because student rentals in converted single family homes are oftentimes marketed by the bedroom the combined "buying power" of a typical student household matches that of a family with a household income of $100,000.

Houses coming on the market at a price point of $250,000 are prime meat for ravenous investors who can outbid middle class families.  When those houses are all gobbled up and the demand still exists the next price point will be $275,000, then $300,000 and so on. 

Between 2000 and 2010 only about 325 new units were added to the housing stock, or about 35 units per year.  In that same time frame average rents have risen a whopping 57% -- or twice the rate of inflation. Amherst's official population grew from 34,874 to 37,819 during that time frame.

In a recent Amherst Bulletin column UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy confirms UMass has added 1,000 undergrads since 2009 and will add another 2,000 before the end of the decade.

Umass houses 60% of their total students on campus and plans to maintain that ratio in the future;  so that means 400 of the most recently added 1,000 students found housing off campus, and over the rest of the decade 800 more will be looking for shelter. 

The mistake in the draft report pounced on by John Fox in particular concerns the impact of the spiffy new Commonwealth College facility at UMass, which has about 3,000 students.  But the report seems to treat those students as new additional students increasing the overall population of UMass, when in fact they are already here and have already been counted.

In September the 1,500 bed dorms for Commonwealth College students came online.  Some in the audience insist that was enough to satisfy student housing demands, even though it shelters only 50% of the targeted clientele. 

The snippet of the report that seems to have drawn the most fire
Obviously Umass is using the Commonwealth Honors College as a marketing tool to ensure those 2,000 EXTRA students come before the end of the decade, and that they are high achievers unlikely to participate in rowdy weekend parties. 

Neighbors also pointed out the report does not discuss current student oriented projects under way:  Olympia Place (236 beds) and Kendrick Place (102 beds) have both been approved by the Planning Board, but neither has broken ground. 

Interestingly they didn't throw in The Retreat which is projected to provide 641 student beds because they probably do not wish to jinx their concerted effort to kill that project.

RKG Associates provided all sorts of remedies we can take or leave to stimulate housing production.  But to deny that Amherst even has a housing problem is like denying men have walked on the moon. 

The first step is to admit there's a problem.  "Houston we've had a problem." 

And that problem is us.

Amherst will become a Jekyll and Hyde:  Student slums and high end "upper crust" neighborhoods

Vince O'Connor: Keep politics out of this report (Amherst needs affordable housing NOT student housing)