Report On The Meeting Of The Amherst Town Council Part 2, June 13, 2022
Redesign and improvement of the North Common was first discussed in 2013. The Select Board advocated for renovation of the space, and Town Meeting allocated almost $500,000 of Community Preservation Act funds in historic preservation and recreation to the project in 2015 and 2017. The Community Preservation Act Committee voted an additional $500,000 in 2021. The town council voted on May 24, 2021 for a plan that eliminates the parking lot and creates a plaza and promenade on the common.
Assistant Town Manager Dave Ziomek announced the town’s receipt of an $827,000 federal land and water conservation grant for the $1.8 million project, meaning the project can be accomplished without borrowing. In addition to the plaza and promenade, the design creates walkways, seating, and tables, and possibly public art. Measures will be taken to combat erosion and save as many trees as possible.
Acceptance of the grant requires that the common be preserved for passive recreation in perpetuity. With approval of the project, the council is being asked to transfer control of the common to the Recreation Department. The town will need to lay out the money for the project and then be reimbursed by the federal government. If approved by the council, construction is expected to begin in May of 2023.
The matter was referred to the Finance Committee, which began discussion at its June 7 meeting. There will be a public forum at the beginning of the June 27 council meeting with a vote on acceptance of the project later in that meeting.