Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Build It! Just Not Anywhere Near Me

UMass Southwest = 5,5000 beds.  Originally a 6th tower was planned, but never built

Couldn't agree more with Fearing Street resident John Fox's column in today's Gazette:  Indeed UMass could do more with housing students within their confines even though they are already top three in the nation for sheltering students on campus (around 60%).

 Click to enlarge/read

I just find it interesting he highlights two private town center projects he vehemently opposed -- Kendrick Place and One East Pleasant Street -- declaring them not nearly big enough to satisfy demand and then points out Public Private Partnerships constructing housing on public (UMass) land is the best way to go.

Kendrick Place, with104 beds, opening next month

Ironically, when the Amherst Redevelopment Authority partnered with UMass to develop the former Frat Row into a glorious Gateway Project that would have provided ample student housing and commercial space in a tax-paying mixed-use project, Mr. Fox lead the charge to successfully scuttle it.

John Fox (rt) on the attack at ARA meeting December, 2010

But at least he will now support circumventing the Pacheco Law to allow a Public Private Partnership to build a substantial project somewhere on campus.

Of course should they choose the best location, the shovel-ready former Frat Row, he will once again fire up his war machine. 

Gateway Area.  Fearing & Phillips Streets on left with former Frat Row on right.  
Maybe it's time to build that 6th Southwest Tower?


Anonymous said...

What's the status of One East Pleasant Street now? I haven't heard anything for a while--or missed it. Did the NIMBYs defeat it?

Dr. Ed said...

When a water main breaks and people's basements start flooding, do you give them bigger pumps or do you shut off the broken water main?

It is long past time for people to set a limit on the number of freshmen that UMass is permitted to admit, to stop these insane ever-larger expansions.

Now what Mr. Fox fails to remember -- or doesn't know -- is that something similar was done back in the 1960s when UMass kept gobbling up more and more land -- and most of the land that UMass doesn't already have something on isn't buildable due to wetlands rules.

And what Stan's not saying is that the MBTA's Union will kill this in a heartbeat.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 11:38 AM

I believe the case goes to Court in the next two weeks.

Even if the NIMBYs win the case all it does is slightly downsize the project -- not kill it.

Anonymous said...

That's the same John O. Fox that successfully blocked private undergraduate housing from being built on public land on North Pleasant

If so, he has either changed his mind -or- is not to be trusted -or both

Anonymous said...

It's great that everyone agrees Amherst needs more housing to keep up with growth of UMass. But I think to demand that it has to be on campus is a lot to ask of a school that more than bears its weight in on campus housing. I understand people don't want the surrounding neighborhoods and downtown filled with massive student housing facilities. But when you put up a stink over efforts to put kids up in the middle of the woods (The Retreat) or when there are opportunities on campus (Gateway) tell me what's left.

Public university enrollment in this state has been growing and will grow into the future which is a really good thing. And look at the universities across this state...which one is best positioned to take on this increased enrollment? It's UMass Amherst because of its position as the Flagship, it's wide range of programs, its great location in the Pioneer Valley, D1 athletics that are improving each year, and the available land to absorb higher numbers. The growth is coming and Amherst has to be ready. The campus' long term master plan includes expanded on campus housing, but the university can't and should not have to bear it all. That's not how it works at ANY university.

Dr. Ed said...

Public university enrollment may be growing, but so is the percentage of those not prepared for college and needing remedial courses. And the bubble is going to burst, things always look best just before it does.

Anyone remember the housing bubble?

Anyone remember the DotCom bubble?

The Chinese Stock Market just list something like 38% of it's value (probably would have lost more but for ChiCom heavy-handed intervention), Greece is Bankrupt, our government soon will be and where the hell is all the money for all these kids to go to college going to come from?

Whom, exactly, are they going to borrow it from?

And Charlie Baker is a class act -- he's not saying how much of a mess that Deval Patrick made of the Commonwealth's finances -- not publicly, but that too is an issue, and Baker is going to try to get the money to municipalities for streets, K-12, & such. As best he can after dealing with the ever increasing expense of human servicesa and MassHealth, which itself is bankrupting the Commonwealth.

And Common Core does not bode well for higher education -- Common Core projects to a Community College or Vocational Tech School. Whatever money the state has for higher education is going to go there, and it makes more sense for a kid to go to such a place as well. Can you say "job"?

Not to mention that all the Normal Schools are now UNIVERSITIES themselves -- legally the equal to UMass Amherst and in terms of both student experience and reputation with employers, rapidly becoming superior.

And as they don't have to pander to the municipalities the way that UM does, they don't have the costs of doing that with the savings passed on to their students. And Larry, the ransom that UM pays to Amherst isn't just paid in cash -- cash is the least of it. It includes things like hiring the Wicked Witch of Ethiopia (Enku Geylae) and turning an office intended to support and (perish the thought!) help students into one whose sole purpose is to discipline and control them.

Dr. Ed said...

I know the UMassHacks will respond with some totally irrelevant diatribe about how those students who are lucky enough to then (subsequently) be admitted to certain elite & esoteric programs are hired upon graduation.


Some of the young Black teenagers playing pick-up basketball on the streets of Hartford will be lucky enough to play for a NBA team and make lots of money. Marcus Camby did -- and as to the recruitment of UM grads, some of us remember what went on when folks were attempting to recruit Camby, the incident with the prostitute and the rest...

Reality is that -- unless you have political connections either in the state, or in town, or on campus -- attending UMass is an incredibly expensive roll of the dice, a "game of chance" where the statistical odds of financial success are increasingly slim. And even if graduates do find employment upon graduation, increasingly in things they could have done before they even went to UMass, never forget that desperate people deeply in debt do desperate things.

The UMass degree is no longer opening doors and people are starting to learn that.

Dr. Ed said...

You are an 18-year-old stupid enough to show up at UMass as a freshman.
Look at what is largely random chance -- things you have no control over:

1: Your roommate.

2: Your dorm. The RA, RD and all the rest.

3: Your classes -- the ones you actually get to take, which often aren't going to be the ones you wanted to take.

4: Your schedule -- which, unless you have political connections, is almost inevitably going to make your life logistically difficult.

5: Your professors and TAs. Sometimes I think that the only reason some folks belonged to the Republican Club was to be able to ask me which professors I would recommend -- and which ones I would recommend avoiding at all costs..

6: Your sex and your race -- sexual orientation can be a choice (and at UM often is) but a student doesn't have any choice over the other two. All three are going to advantage or disadvantage any student in a thousand different ways, many quite overt and significant.

None of the above have anything to do with either how academically prepared and smart the kid is, or how hard he/she/it works -- these are all aspects of random chance and that is why I refer to it as the Casino in Amherst.

And if one could actually acquire not all the money that one will pay for a UM degree (if one even manages to get it), along with the financial value of the opportunity cost of doing so -- if one were able to take thus fairly large sum of money down to Foxwoods, I would recommend doing so as it is no more of a gamble and the statistical odds likely are no worse.

Besides, you will have a far better time.

Anonymous said...

Is John Fox and Dr. Ed the same person, they sound alike

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ed...I don't even know where to begin. (I'm anon above you) all accounts our state's and country's economy is improving and so will our government's finances. They go hand in hand most of time. So yes things are rough, yes Deval left a mess but we will get through it. The sky isn't falling. This isn't 2008. Or even 2011. UMass even got through those years well. Took advantage of the budget friendly construction environment and actually improved the campus in huge ways.

You like to portray UMass as some place where graduates don't have a fighting chance and that's just wrong. It's not a "roll of the dice". You work hard at UMass you get good things. Same as anywhere. We have Fortune 500 companies setting up shop in Hadley (State Street) with the sole purpose of hiring UMass students. So don't even go there with the idea that a UMass degree isn't worth anything. Phenomenal companies actively recruit. As far as the Normal Schools (I assume you are talking along the lines of Westfield, Salem, Framingham, Fitchburg, Worcester...), they are higher caliber now but nowhere near UMass never mind superior in terms of student experience, or reputation. The rec center, Mullins events, dining, athletics, Fine Arts Center...I can go on. All wonderful parts of the student experience that are unmatched. The reputation is unmatched in terms of recruitment...recruiters LOVE UMass. (Isenberg is #11 in the nation in terms of recruiter satisfaction. ELEVEN.) And they have municipal issues, look at Worcester's parking woes and arena issues in Fitchburg.

And I like your list of freshman woes. They are mostly wrong. Freshmen can choose their own roommate. Someone from their home town, someone they meet at orientation, someone they meet on the class Facebook page...they can set it up and it's almost always fulfilled. Freshman can't say "I want this dorm." but they pick an area that's almost always fulfilled. If you join a RAP, they are in specific buildings so that is a way you can choose a building. Most freshmen have no issues setting up a schedule and most get the classes they want with the professor they want and getting support and guidance in setting up a schedule is very easy. Now obviously there are only so many seats and there are some professors more popular than others but there are so many opportunities between 2 semesters to take x class with x professor that it's manageable. And logistics? Please. Hardly an issue when students can make their own schedule and do really whatever they want. Have a little trouble waking up after a crazy Thursday? Not a morning person? Great. Build a class schedule that fits you and leave yourself an hour for lunch. Sounds like a real nightmare...or not. I'm not going to touch your last point but this challenges (sadly) exist everywhere. It's not a UMass exclusive issue. Don't make it sound like one.

Like it or not, UMass is a good place. And it will grow. It will get even better.

Dr. Ed said...

Kinda like "if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan"?

How much is UMass paying you to write this dribble? I hope you aren't prostituting yourself for nothing.

BTW: You did convince me in the necessity of a "truth in advertising" law for public universities -- if you want to make a claim that "Fortune 500 Companies" are hiring UM grads, you need to give the number actually hired as a percentage of the freshman class that entered four years earlier -- the odds of winning, so to speak. Never forget that Marcus Camby did quite well.

And as to student effort, please explain why UM takes credit when the student does well, but blames it on the student when he/she/it doesn't. How can UM take credit for sucessful students without taking responsibility for those who aren't?

And, BTW, it's "Dr. Ed" -- or are UM degrees totally meaningless in your book?

Dr. Ed said...

Oh, and Larry, that sixth tower (actually T-3) was intended for graduate students...

Anonymous said...

That gateway area field could be used for outdoor concerts and regular party/drinking gatherings. Shut down the road and turn it into a pedestrian area at appropriate times. If we let the students use this spot to have their parties maybe they will stay out of the other neighborhoods and keep it just to the Fearing Street area.