Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Electrifying Move

Corner of Pray Street/East Pleasant Street, northern end of town center

Now there's a job that leaves little margin for error:  No doubt why power lineman are in the top ten for deaths per 100,000 workers.  

Probably a combination of working at higher altitudes where the fall can be fatal, and of course dealing with electricity, and often times (think October snowstorm) putting in long hours.  

In discussing the long, l-o-n-g awaited Pine Street renovation in North Amherst, DPW Chief Guilford Mooring told the Amherst Select Board that Western Mass Electric charges a $40,000 per pole relocation fee.   Yikes!

But this relocation work at the corner of Pray Street and East Pleasant is being done at the request of Archipelago Investments the developer of Kendrick Place, a five-story mixed use building that will tower over the Triangle Street/East Pleasant intersection, at the gateway to UMass/Amherst.

On Monday night the Amherst Select Board unanimously approved the DPW/Town Manager request to apply for a $1.5 million MassWorks Grant to pay for those same powerlines to go underground, from Pray Street through the Triangle/E Pleasant intersection up to Chestnut Street.  

Interestingly the Town Manager did admit to the Select Board that this would never happen with town money (not a high enough priority) but since its state money ...

Some anti-development folks are already pretty upset with the town over the development of Kendrick Place -- specifically the Planning Board waiving a traffic study to assess the impact of 102 tenants. 

Since the (student oriented) development is within the "Municipal Parking District," and within easy walking distance of UMass, it's not expected to require much parking.  


Dr. Ed said...

That looks like it belongs in Cambridge, not Amherst -- It isn't compatible with the Stalinist grunge of Amherst.

Stuart Rankin said...

The good doctor is right - that building is far too nice. It almost looks like a place that would instill a sense of pride and community in its residents.

That means it is bad, and must be stopped, right?

And if not, where was the opposition when Amherst Woods and Amherst Hills were built on remote, pristine forest land to house Amherst's elite?

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Amherst Woods abuts an old unlined landfill.

Tom McBride said...

If there's a need for housing let business do its thing. It's unclear to me why the planning board and specifically the town manager think they can micromanage every little single area of the town when the heavy hand of commerce will handle growth naturally in an organic fashion. If they wanted to live in a utopia according to their own standards they should of settled in a small town in Colorado. As a matter of fact, I wish some of them would. In a few years all thoughts of managing will be forgotten as the town grows and philosophies change. Life could be worse. The university could be absent and we wouldn't benefit from the millions if not billions of dollars it pumps into the community, jobs and many other things. Some people just can't be pleased. How do we think the rest of the world lives? It's not pretty.

Dr. Ed said...

"The university could be absent and we wouldn't benefit from the millions if not billions of dollars it pumps into the community, jobs and many other things."

The days of the large residential undergrad college are numbered -- I've seen estimates that (nationwide) we have 50% more undergrad seats in colleges than the demographics and economy can sustain through the end of this decade.

Add in the fact that graduates aren't getting jobs -- which is the only reason that most of their parents pay for them to go -- and the whole thing nationally is on the verge of imploding.

As to UMass -- 2 hours away from anything/anywhere a young person wants to do/be -- 2 hours from a beach, ski area, decent sized city -- AND two hours from home -- Amherst has nothing to offer 90% of undergrads.

And with UMass being such a bureaucratic nightmare, Enku Gelaye channeling Henrik Himmler and most students getting shitty classes that aren't even the ones they wanted -- I'm sure Planet UMass will do incredibly well in a competitive marketplace.

When (not if) the Republicans -- the Libertarians & Tea Party Republicans -- gain control of Congress and simply stop subsidizing student loans (which they will do) you will see Amherst change overnight.


Dr. Ed said...

Let me add this: lots of graduates have lots of student loan debt and no jobs. They want the debt erased while conservatives are increasingly upset funding the leftist bastion of higher ed.

What is increasingly being proposed is that we do both -- erase all outstanding student loan debt AND eliminate all future Federal financial aid of all kinds. Everything is eliminated and the Federal Govt is OUT of higher education.

It could well happen. And it would be like what the elimination of wooden toys was to Wichendon -- Amherst would fold up and blow away....

Stuart Rankin said...

Tom, IMO fear of development (a.k.a "change") was the main reason the charter failed a few years back. Voters were afraid that without the CAVE* people that inhabit Town Meeting, Amherst would fall victim to the hands of outside developers. Same thing happened with the "Gateway" project.


Well, guess what? Nothing happened in Gateway when UMass realized the futility of trying to get anything progressive through Town Meeting. The outside developers have bought up houses in our neighborhoods and turned them into student ghettos. And it's the homegrown developers that are actually accomplishing real change - for example, Kendrick Place.

And I think it's Town Meeting, not the manager or committees, that micromanages. It is the laughing-stock of town meetings. The biggest problem is that the Moderator lets people speak until "I see no hands." Can someone tell me why the moderator can't simply allot, say, 15 minutes for comment, and then bring it to a vote?

Anonymous said...

3 reasons why a town charter is a bad idea:
Mayor Vince OConnor

Anonymous said...

Did the developer make any effort to fit the look of this buidling into Amherst or did it just use the Bank of Boston building as inspiration? Let's raise the design level to something that actually looks good and fits into our historic town.

Anonymous said...

Stuart Rankin said @ 9:33am

You get what you vote for, whether its who is elected as a Town Meeting member or what the majority (or even 2/3) of them decide.
if you don't like the results, who do you really think is responsible? Is it those those who are willing to make the time to participate where it matters or those who don't and complain on a blog?

Anonymous said...

BTW: How many of those who spend time and energy on this blog criticizing Amherst and its citizens live here or, better yet, make their living from Town employment but live elsewhere? Just wondering...

Stuart Rankin said...

Anon 2:59:

Agreed, you get what you vote for. And there are a large number of good, smart, committed TM members. I vote for them at every opportunity.

My complaint is with the sizable contingent who either (a) don't show up at all; (b) show up uninformed, without having read their materials, and expect to be spoon-fed the details; or (c) show up to vote in a bloc with their friends with the express purpose to prevent change.

Speaking of which, Don Quixote O'Connor is already some folks' mayor.

Larry Kelley said...

Well if Vince could not win election to the Amherst School Committee, Amherst Redevelopment Authority, or Select Board I don't think he would ever stand a chance of being elected Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:30, should it look more like the Clark House or Ann Whalen, perhaps? It amazes me that a resident of htese buildings is leading the charge against apartments downtown. See Larry's excellent photos linked below:

Anonymous said...

146 OUI arrests -- in one night.
That would be what, twice the TOTAL number of Barney Blowout arrests?

Cops pelted with beer bottles from top of a high-rise apartment complex? I don't think that's happened in Amherst -- ever.

Anonymous said...

Stuart say at 2:59
"My complaint is with the sizable contingent who either (a) don't show up at all; (b) show up uninformed, without having read their materials, and expect to be spoon-fed the details; or (c) show up to vote in a bloc with their friends with the express purpose to prevent change. "

Like I said, you get what you vote for and, regardless how you personally feel about a vote, it's called democracy.