Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Town Gown Collaborative

Steering Committee sat at tables forming a U

The University Town of Amherst Collaborative (UTAC) met for the first time today in the Amherst Room on the 10th floor of the tax-exempt Campus Center.

But the one hour meeting had a distinct air of deja vu as the committee co-chairs are once again Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations Nancy Buffone  and interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek.

Amherst Select Board Chair Alisa Brewer and UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy also sat at the head table although the Chancellor is not listed as a member of the Steering Committee.

The idea for UTAC came out of the successful Town/Gown Steering Committee which met for just over a year with the stated goal to increase cooperation and collaboration between the town and UMass, our number one employer.

In addition to the UTAC Steering Committee, which will also have an undergrad and grad student by next semester, there are three independent subcommittees focusing on economic development, housing, and cultural arts/entertainment.

Chancellor Subbaswamy, who would like to see Amherst become "Cambridge West" (without the traffic and tall buildings) acknowledged he would be hiring a couple hundred more employees down the road.

He would also like to think those new employees could afford to live and recreate in Amherst, not that he has anything against nearby towns.

Interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek said it's not just about increasing the vibrancy of our downtown but also the Village Centers and he pointed out how North Amherst is growing with the recent opening of the Mill District.

Mr. Ziomek stated the town is still in the search phase for an Economic Development Director -- a top recommendation of the Town Gown Steering Committee -- and he would keep everyone informed through November and December.

But, he was optimistic they would find "the right person for Amherst.'

Nancy Buffone concluded the meeting on an upbeat note:  "It's going to be a lot of fun."

UTAC subcommittee members

1 comment:

Dr. Ed said...

Hiring a couple hundred more employees -- with what money?

The only way he is going to get it is to add several thousand more students to a student body that already vastly exceeds the carrying capacity of the ecosystem -- the sheer number of students that UMass already has will inherently have a negative impact upon the surrounding communities, no matter how well behaved (or draconianly controlled) the students may be.

Take basic infrastructure -- roads, water & sewer -- you add a few thousand more users and you're taxing systems that are already near (or at) their limits. I don't see the 116 "By-Pass" being continued down to the MassPike as initially planned, I don't see Route 9 bypassing downtown anytime soon, and even with the bridge finally widened to four lanes, West-to-go-East still isn't always an expedient option.

Larry, you can complain about individual students all you want, the underlying problem is that there are too damn many of them at UMass. They are forced to fight for scarce resources there in what often becomes a Lord of the Flies environment and then they take that culture/attitude into the community with them.