Thursday, February 27, 2014

"That Really Stinks"

Budget Coordinating Group this morning

Good thing about being a fly on the wall at public meetings not usually attended by reporters is town officials are a tad more forthright with their comments.

Take this morning's Budget Coordinating Group meeting for instance.  During his update on the Echo Village negotiation with mega-property owner Jamie Cherewatti, after lamenting the deal falling through at the last minute, Town Manger Musante closed with, "That really stinks".

The town had put all their eggs in one basket with a proposed Community Development Block Grant request of $800,000 because $600,000 of that would have gone towards purchasing from Cherewatti the 24 unit Echo Village Apartment complex.



James Cherewatti on left

The deadline for the grant application was February 14 (how romantic) and Cherewatti's last second rejection (by ignoring it) of a "fair market" purchase offer means the grant application is now dead.  The price offered is exempt from Open Meeting Law public disclosure, although the principal party who made the offer could probably release it.  

The Town Manager pointed out to the BCG, "That has a domino effect on three other programs:  Homeless Shelter, Food Pantry Program at the Survival Center, and $20,000 in emergency funds for the needy."

His proposal, which seemed to garner the support of the group, is to now take a $125,000 recommendation to Town Meeting using Free Cash.

He specifically wants it to be a stand alone item separate from the overall budget to telegraph that it's a "transitional" emergency appropriation, and not a return to the old days of annual town funding of Social Service programs. 

Finance Director Sandy Pooler floated the idea of having the money come out of Stabilization Fund which requires a two thirds vote to reinforce that this is a one time thing, and that Town Meeting "would really have to think about it."

BCG Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe cautioned it could send the message that town officials were setting too high a hurdle and it could be "off putting" to Town Meeting members.

Pooler responded that many things -- including bridge replacement or DPW snow and ice budget increases -- requires a  two-thirds vote, so this is not "singling out" social services.

Finance Chair and Select Board candidate Andy Steinberg thought perhaps the $125,000 should simply be in the routine general fund budget.   Stephanie O'Keeffe quickly responded the Select Board voted Monday unanimously that it be a stand alone article.  This reinforces the notion that we are simply "bridging the gap."

Select Board member Alisa Brewer (always a tad more forthright) added, "I will say it more aggressively:  NO!"

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes bad things happen to good governments. This time, it's not our leaders' fault.

Property rights are important, even in Amherst, where Town Meeting tends to forget they exist. They're made more real, when someone decides to be a real a-hole with his.

Anonymous said...

Larry, is the mansion on South East St. Cherewatti's home?

Larry Kelley said...

His dad owns the one on North East Street (highest assessed value in town).

Anonymous said...

Jsmes Cherewati's last known address is 15 Foxglove Lane in Amherst Woods

http://gis.amherstma.gov/images/cards/3463.pdf

Anonymous said...

Springfield Republican report on how Cherewati is hiding from view
Amherst officials, residents hope James Cherewatti will change his mind and sell building for affordable housing
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/02/amherst_officials_residents_ho.html

"Cherewatti was asked to comment, but left his office without speaking. An office assistant had said he was on the phone and then had to leave."

Anonymous said...

The "“Stop EvilCrest Greed must not Trump Need" picketers should show up on Foxglove Lane, bringing newpaper and TV reporters. Amherst Woods neighbors who are not hidden investors in Cherewati's LLCs will be appalled to find out qho's living in their neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

The Select Board should ask town counsel Kopelman & Page about "piercing the corporate veil". Even if Cherewati is immune to shaming, some of the till-now hidden investors might not be

Anonymous said...

See the character Mr. Potter from the movie "It's A Wonderful Life".

Anonymous said...

Msybe the UMass Housing Office could be asked to remove any Chereati-LLC-owned rentals fro m its listings.

Anonymous said...

If only our housing situation were such that Cherewatti and his properties could be boycotted. But unfortunately, supply and demand is what rules. And that is precisely the thing that he is capitalizing on... in an exceedingly self serving and greedy way. Actually makes me less opposed to the Landmark development. Lets bring on the competition and drive this Amherst born scumbag out of business.

Anonymous said...

Notice the interesting timing of this week's comments under Larry's "New Equipment, Old Home" post in which an attempt is made to air-brush Cherewati's reputation in advance by dropping unfounded rumors of gang activity at Echo Village before Cherewati evicted old tenants in favor of more lucrative stusent-group tenancies.

Anonymous said...

Cherewati's Railroad Street Partners LLLC bought the Stackers building for Eagle Crest Property Management to move into.

This is a great location to serve the target demographic of partying students who might be in the market for party-friendly off-campus housing.

Stackers licensees are an obvious place to look for possible hrewatti LLC hidden investors.

The Select Board could request the names of licensees from the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Comission. It would be good to make public the names of any local licensees (potential hidden LLC investors) as another way of bringing pressure on Cherewatti.

It almost goes without saying that Stackers has historically been a morning Blarney Blowout venue.

Anonymous said...

Echo Village's new owner may be just another Cherewatti LLC, with the same or overlapping hidden investors.

Anonymous said...

What Cherewatti has done was brought about by decades of bad decisions of Town Meeting. They refused to change and fix the student rental shortage problem. Cherewatti is a businessman with lots of cash and a desire to increase it. Whether you believe in profit motive or not he is just a business man.

If you don't like the atmosphere of Amherst housing with a lack of inventory, I suggest you get involved and make lots of projects happen to make apartments on the edge of town less attractive. Maybe then Echo hill will get lower rents which in the end would hurt the man so many vilify.

I for one don't have a problem with what happened. It is unfortunate but if you want to control something, buy it before someone else does.

Anonymous said...

What Cherewatti has done was brought about by decades of bad decisions by UMass. They refused to change and increase the number of dorms available on campus....

If you don't like the atmosphere of Amherst housing with a lack of inventory, I suggest you get involved and demand of UMass and our state legislators that the state adequately support the university and the on-campus building projects necessary to let UMass grow as planned.

I for one have a problem with what happened. It is unfortunate and we Amherst residents should have to pay for it alone.

Anonymous said...

... should NOT have to pay for it alone.

Anonymous said...

From my understanding it's not just what Cherewatti did but the way he did it which is so despicable. leading the town into thinking he would accept the offer then not even having the balls or character to say he wasn't but just not responding. He has played and double crossed the town in which he and his family lives and threatened the welfare of not only his tenants but those who are in most need of help and opened the doors for further unscrupulous development. He feels no shame. In fact I am sure he is proud of himself. What is it they say? The bad sleep well at night.

Anonymous said...

Where was the plan to deal with the expiring 30 year rent limits on federally subsidized housing? This problem has been known about for years and nothing was done. It's not a surprise that landowners are looking for a higher return on their properties. Where was the plan from the planning dept or the housing committees?

Anonymous said...

Hooray, for Cherewati. You want a place to live, get a job and pay for it just like the rest of us. Nobody pays my bills. Fuckin' Liberals...

Anonymous said...

Its funny how everyone likes to bash Cherewatti for being a capitalist. I remember reading about the previous landlord who had some drive to maintain affordable housing. He was the one who sold out to Cherewatti for money. Yes money, that dirty capitalist. Why does everyone sing his praises. If he believed in helping people why did he bow to the almighty buck instead of protecting his tenants and his principles. Cherewatti is just your whipping boy, but he is only one piece of the puzzle.

The only thing Cherewatti could do to satisfy the liberal commentators on this blog is to sell and sell now. Its his money, why can't he do what the hell he wants with it.

If we are going to start questioning how people spend their money can we do accounting for the tenants in those apartments. Do they have cell phone or cable. Could they live without it and save money to move out. I don't really want to know I'm just making the point they people will use their money as they see fit. What is good for one is good for all.

Dr. Ed said...

Two other points -- there was a serious discussion that I should be armed, and *I* refused for a variety of reasons.

I relied on my wits instead -- but it very much was a dangerous environment. Reality is that people are living in this environment, and that a lot of them really don't want to -- the vast majority don't want any part of the drugs & gangs but are too scared to say anything about it.

And my second point is that if the schmucks at Planet UMass were anything resembling "culturally competent" and realized some of the situations I had been in, well....

Anonymous said...

The personal attack on Cherwatti is absurd and offensive. Bottom line is that the property is his to do with as he please.

It is phony to suggest Cherwatti is responsible for the Community Block Grant not going through; who writes a grant that is predicated on a private citizen selling his property? Why not approach the other complexes and press them to sell like Rolling Green? And, when they refuse, then let's villainize them. It is outrageous that the town would blame a private citizen for not being able to obtain a grant to support local services and supports; bottom line, the grant was faulty to begin with and it raises the question about who is writing grants for our town.

Who is the private investor who was going to partner with the purchase? Are they one of the protesters? That person would be in line to profit, so it make no sense that Cherwatti should be treated badly.

To the person who identified the personal residence and referenced his family, you are so far out of line, it is scary. It sounds like bullying behavior and given all of the posts on this blog, I can't believe someone would even suggest picketing the family residence. Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

Cherewatti has made himself a whipping boy. Echo Hill is only a small part of his empire. Immediately upon his purchase of it he hiked rents and began evictions in a way which would make Ebeneezer Scrooge look good. He has estranged a pro-development town administration by his duplicity and dragged his own family's name in the mud in their own community by his greed. No one is against making a profit, just unbridled avarice.

We all pay taxes. It irks me as much as the next person to read about single mothers with five kids living on the public dole, but that doesn't excuse Cherewatti's deplorable behavior. Think you should pick some one else to rally behind.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:23

It is not about rallying behind someone; it is about what is right regardless of whether it is Cherwatti or someone else. It is fascinating to see the references to his "empire"; where have you been? Look at DH Jones and Co.

It confounds me that no one has addressed the police and social service involvement prior to and after the purchase by Cherwatti. The lack of response or acknowledgement implies validity and suggests that Cherwatti has had a positive impact.

At the end of the day, one has to assume the anti-Cherwatti supporters really don't know what was going on at Echo Hill.

Anonymous said...

To Anon Feb 27 6:50 PM

"Lets bring on the competition and drive this Amherst born scumbag out of business."

Harsh words. Guess you don't know the guy. Your character now stands in question. Not appropriate and most definitely asinine.

Anonymous said...

I am willing to be enlightened about what's going on at Echo Hill. If conditions have improved there since it has been purchased, why did the town want to acquire it?

Anonymous said...

"Lets bring on the competition and drive this Amherst born scumbag out of business."

Harsh words. Guess you don't know the guy. Your character now stands in question. Not appropriate and most definitely asinine.

Anon: 3:17:

if you don't agree with that characterization, by all means please enlighten us as to Mr. Cherewatti's virtues. I'm as much in favor of property rights as the next guy. But unbridled greed is the single most divisive and corrupting influence in this capitalist culture of ours--and I would expect better from a supposed community member.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please, you are missing the point. Mr. Cherewatti (nor I for the matter) have to expound upon his virtues or character. You (nor I or anyone else) are not in a position to judge any person in their entirety. Get to know the person first hand before you make such public, derogatory statements. I know this blog provides a forum for it, but that does not mean it is acceptable nor responsible behavior.

I challenge you and everyone else to get to know Mr. Cherewatti before making any further statements about his character or intent. He should not have to defend himself to people on this blog or in town, just like you don't have to. He is not a public employee or figure subject to public opinion.

And, yes, I know him, not well though. However, what I have observed directly is an individual who supports our community and children. But, hey, you don't know all that he does or is! Basically, that is the point, it really is none of your business, is it? Mr. Cherewatti is not responsible for what happens in this town by his decision not to sell Echo Hill; it is his business so move on!

Stop focusing on Mr. Cherewatti and start focusing on how the town is going to address its lack of appropriate planning to support the local needs.

Anonymous said...

Love it how if you dispossess and uproot lower income families that's just good business, but if you mention the family of a landlord that's beyond the pale. Stalin loved his children too but he was still a bad guy. Don't néed to know Cherewatti
personally to characterize him. His actions say it all.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, gotta love how it's Cherewatti's "feelings" we have to be concerned about now. He'll be crying all the way to the bank... not the potentially empty food pantry or unfunded homeless shelter.

And... how can we possibly "get to know" Mr. Cherewatti when he won't even RESPOND to the town's fair market offer on the property. He's refusing to become part of the conversation, yet we're supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt? Really?

Dr. Ed said...

If we are going to start questioning how people spend their money can we do accounting for the tenants in those apartments. Do they have cell phone or cable. Could they live without it and save money to move out.

I don't know what happened to my reply to this, but what struck me was the large TVs that a lot of people had -- literally bigger than my car.

The single mother on assistance would have to make over $60K to get the spending power she has, and that's without the drug-dealing boyfriend who technically doesn't live there.

The drugs, the gangs and the violence are REAL. I saw it.

Anonymous said...

Anyone read the article in the Gazette today "Echo Village owner open to 'options'. Sounds like the man is still willing and that he was not aware of the other items for the food pantry, homeless shelter, etc. being part of the plan. Looks like Musante and other town officials who were negotiating have some explaining to do. And it looks like the protesting yahoos and negative bloggers owe Cherewartti an apology. Step up folks!!

Larry Kelley said...

Well the grant deadline for the social service money that was part of the plan has passed.

If he really wanted to totally transform his public image he could take $100,000 off the the price of the building and tell the town to put it towards the Homeless Shelter and Food Pantry.

Anonymous said...

Sarcasm


GET HIGHER RENTS THAN CAN BE SQUEEZED OUT OF STUDENTS!!



Springfield Republican story: The heroin mill next door; NYC dealers blend in
http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/02/the_heroin_mill_next_door_nyc.html

They rely on a business model that emphasizes discipline, quality control and an absence of violence. Workers wore school sweatshirts to try to blend in and go out of their way not to disturb neighbors, who might report them to police.
They favor residential settings in safe neighborhoods as a means of cover such as a two-story, red-brick home in the New York City suburb of Fort Lee, N.J.


THERE ARE $$$ TO BE MADE!!!


/Sarcasm

Anonymous said...

The drug trade in Amherst is quite lucurative. So much so that the various gangs police their own so everyone can make money...