The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council and the Amherst Planning Board on May 16,2022
I have two suggestions:
1) I read (and sent to you all) an article about how an apartment building in Westfield is being converted from a student apartment (marketed to Westfield State students) to one aiming at a more mixed and general population. The owner is Rocco Falcone Jr, of Rocky’s Ace Hardware. I know him, and asked what is involved in that conversion. He said the apartments were designed and built so that they are totally appropriate for families, retirees, young professionals, so all that’s needed is updating the kitchens and baths. I would suggest that any more apartments or mixed use buildings allowed in downtown Amherst, or our town centers, be designed similarly, so that if and when the demand for student housing subsides (read: when Marty Meehan’s prediction of a “demographic cliff” arrives, and student populations plummet), and there is a need for residential units for the general population, those buildings will not be obsolete.
2) Many have observed that when the town is in a busy time (Saturday night, Drake sold out, restaurants and movies full) the town parking lot (next to CVS lot) is pretty empty. My suggestion: upgrade that lot (NOT as a parking garage) but as a place for electric and hybrid cars, with many spots equipped with charging stations; maybe also charging for bikes and ebikes (with adequate security – maybe a fenced in and guarded area). Plus, add adequate signage, and publicize that Amherst has such a forward looking, customer friendly lot. If a parking garage is shown to be needed (as opposed to the town’s study, showing a parking lot is NOT needed, even with future growth), it can go in another location.