Editor’s note: Town Manager Paul Bockelman submits a comprehensive report to the Town Council, usually at the first Town Council meeting of each month. The reports, usually 9 to 16 pages in length, provide up-to-date information on what is happening within and across town departments. The Manager’s Report is usually one of the last items on the agenda and is often taken up late at night, leaving little time for Bockelman to do more than mention a few highlights and this is usually all that gets entered into the Council minutes. What follows is a complete, unedited version of the Town Manager’s Report. All Town Manager Reports are available here on the Town’s website
• Cuppa Joe with Paul:
▪ The next Cuppa is scheduled for Friday, December 1st; special guest and location to be announced.
• Community Outreach:
▪ Our outreach work-study students represent the Town well and have staffed our tables at the Fire Department Open House and at the Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony.
▪ I have been joining a monthly interview on WHMP’s Talk the Talk radio show.
Most recently, I was accompanied by the CRESS Implementation Manager as the topic was about CRESS and its implementation and development. Previously I was joined by the Fire Chief and Director of Communications and Civic Innovation.
• Governor Healey: I, along with the President and Vice-President of the Town Council and co-chairs of the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, met with Governor Maura Healey and Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities Ed Augustus at 132 Northampton Road. The Governor and Secretary were visiting and touring this Single Room Occupancy building that was permitted by the Town and received nearly $1 million in Town funding support. They then spent time in a small group with our State Senator and State
Representative and others discussing the need for additional housing at various income ranges and the importance of the Governor’s proposed bond bill.
• Colleges and University:
▪ Hampshire College:
• The College enrolled more than 330 new students this Fall. That brings its total enrollment to over 700 and represents a significant milestone as it returns to full enrollment in the wake of the events of 2019. The College is making strong progress in moving back to full enrollment.
• Of those 330 new students, 10% were transfers from New College of Florida. Hampshire offered admission to any New College student in good standing as a statement of its commitment to academic freedom and excellence in the face of political intrusion into academia in Florida.
▪ Amherst College:
• The College made a significant contribution to the Jones Library of $1 million. This contribution will be made over four fiscal years beginning this fiscal year. The gift is given for the Jones Library Capital Campaign and is conditioned upon the undertaking by the Town of the Library Building Project funded by the grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is intended to serve as a match for the NEH Challenge Grant. This is a significant boost to the private fundraising efforts and a true testament to the College’s interest in supporting the Town’s broader community.
• The College hosted Governor Maura Healey on campus for a conversation and Q&A about democracy, public service, and the greater good. The Governor’s visit coincided with the celebration of the October 1963 groundbreaking for Frost Library where President John F. Kennedy praised the tradition of Amherst College community members dedicating themselves to public service and the greater good. He urged Amherst students, staff, faculty, and alumni to continue to commit themselves to making a positive difference in the world.
▪ University of Massachusetts at Amherst:
• According to a study conducted by the Donahue Institute, the University of Massachusetts generated $2.9 billion in economic activity for the Commonwealth and supported more than 13,200 external jobs during the 2022 fiscal year.
• The report finds that for every dollar invested by the state, the University delivered $7 in economic activity. This includes campus operating expenditures, major construction projects and spending by students, faculty and staff. Much of this spending flows beyond campus to a variety of local businesses and suppliers.
• The Donahue Institute report finds that the State invested $421.8 million in the flagship campus to yield the $2.9 billion economic impact for the 12 months ending June 30, 2022. This figure includes about $140 million spent on major construction projects.
• The University in Amherst employed 6,094 people (excluding student workers) during the analysis period. When combined with the external jobs that the University supported, the campus was responsible for more than 19,300 jobs in the Commonwealth.
▪ Transportation and Parking Commission: I will be preparing a more detailed proposal for recommendations for addressing transportation and parking issues for the Town Council. I am working with the chair of the Transportation Advisory Committee and others to finalize the proposal for the Town Council, which I will submit to you before the end of the calendar year.
• Administration and Finance
▪ Taxes: Real estate tax payments were due November 1st for all parcels in Amherst.
▪ Budget: The presentation of the Financial Indicators to the Town Council, School Committee, and Board of Library Trustees kicks of the FY25 budget season. The Finance staff and Clerk of the Council have already initiated the FY25 budget process by requesting information about fees from every department. Department heads are working on their baseline budget documents as we begin the process of building the Town’s budget which will be presented to the Town Council on May 1, 2024.
▪ Audit: The Town’s auditors were in Town last week and will return the week of November 27th. When they complete their work, we will schedule a meeting with the Town Council’s Finance Committee to review the findings.
o Information Technology
▪ Cybersecurity: The Town has been aggressive in ensuring the Town’s information
technology infrastructure is protected and staff are trained to avoid unwanted intrusions. We continue to receive every more sophisticated attempts to breach our system. I urge all users with Town email addresses – including Town Councilors – to be vigilant about email you receive and to NOT click on any links unless you are 100% positive about the sender. We continue to “harden” our systems to try to prevent intrusions and to isolate damage, if there is a breach.
▪ Devices for Councilors: The IT Department will be reviewing the needs of each new and returning Town Councilor. Some older devices will be updated, and we will repurpose the older devices to staff.
o DEI Department:
▪ Staffing: The Director of the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion is serving on the Interim Leadership Team established by the town to support the CRESS Department. The DEI Director leads the team that includes Fire Chief Tim Nelson, Police Sergeant Janet Griffin, and CRESS Implementation Manager Kat Newman to help stabilize the department. Assistant DEI Director Jen Moyston and AmeriCorps Member Asa Stanley Kemler have taken on additional responsibilities to assist the Director in meeting the needs of both departments.
▪ GARE Membership: The office was able to obtain a reduced membership for the
Government Alliance for Race and Equity, so we renewed our membership.
▪ CORE Equity Team: Core Equity Team Members are staff members who self- identified and self-selected to learn about and promote issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The group met with a GARE representative to review the benefits of membership and the resources available to the Town through membership. The Core Equity hopes to regularly utilize the resources for personal and departmental professional development
▪ Committees: The Community Safety and Social Justice Committee (CSSJC) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) welcomed new members by bringing both groups to quorum.
• On September 24th the Human Rights Commission, Amherst Recreation, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with financial support
from Amherst College, Kuhn Riddle Architects, and Encharter Insurance held a Latinx Heritage Celebration. Participants had the opportunity to quiz themselves on Fun Facts about Latinx Community, to participate in Salsa Dancing, to hear Latinx Music and enjoy a variety of food. Children received gifts bags prepared by Amherst Recreation and everyone had the opportunity to make papel picado.
▪ Community Visioning:
• The Department has embarked on a community visioning process with a focus on public safety and social justice. Dr. Barbara Love conducted a Train the Trainer session for Liberatory Visioning which required a significant time commitment and was well attended.
• The two-day, 5.5hour sessions included 18 participants of which approximately half were Town employees, including three Community Responders.
• In an evaluation of the training, a participant summarized the purpose of workshop this way:
o “To engage community members in conversations that will allow us to live, move, and engage in our community space in ways that perhaps we/many have not before.
o To facilitate necessary and critical conversations around equity, racial justice and more.
o To bring diverse community members together to discuss our personal and lived experiences along with the experiences we have in the town, to help create common goals around becoming better informed and equipped to tackle the tough challenges that this work is sure to have.”
• Another had this summary “liberatory consciousness seeks to redefine the way people relate to one another in the near future.”
• Work will continue on this program after this successful start.
• The Assistant Director of Workforce Equity and Inclusive Leadership at Amherst College is offering two DEI workshops for Town staff in October and November. The Department will be promoting this and sharing additional workshops that will be held during the next six months. The first workshop focused on Implicit Bias and Microaggressions, the second will explore Supervision through a DEI Lens.
• Staff at the Jones Library have been offered a DEI workshop.
• The Department offered Town Staff in Town Hall and the Recreation
Department two anti-racist training dates in October. We had excellent participation in both trainings. This completed the first round of workshops for Town employees that visited every Town department. The next round will begin in the new year and will return to the Department of Public Works.
▪ Reparations: The Town Council is reviewing the recommendations and I have sought legal advice on several questions and funding options.
▪ Resident Oversight Board: Following the unsuccessful RFP for a Resident Oversight Board, the Department worked with Procurement to develop another procurement process for seeking a consultant. The Original RFP was reduced in scope and divided into two “Seeking Written Quotes” (SWQ) requests. Responses for the first solicitation which focuses on community engagement were due on October 12th and the DEI Director is reviewing the responses and moving the award forward which we anticipate to be finalized shortly.
▪ Police Protocols: Work on police protocols will be a priority for the permanent chief, once appointed.
▪ CRESS: See the update on the CRESS Department below.
▪ Youth Empowerment: AmeriCorps Member Asa Stanley-Kemler has begun outreach efforts to youth. This position is working exclusively on youth programming, which is an initial step of involving youth in the development of an Empowerment Center. The DEI and CRESS departments are hosting this AmeriCorps Member whose time will be divided between the two departments. The AmeriCorps member’s primary duty will be to assist both departments in outreach to youth, research and development of youth programming. Plans for the first event are being finalized and will occur in November.
o Human Resources:
▪ Town Manager Performance Review: The Human Resources department and other
Town staff offered support to the Town Council President and Town Council in the management of the performance review of the Town Manager.
▪ Positions: The Human Resources Department has posted the advertisement for the Finance Director and CRESS Director positions. The advertisements for the Communications Director and Police Chief positions will be posted shortly. Interview teams for all positions will be appointed shortly.
o Police Department:
▪ Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research awarded a $24,486 Municipal Road Safety Grant to the Police Department. This program provides Federal funds to support traffic enforcement activities and develop strategies to reduce roadway crashes, injuries, and fatalities in Massachusetts.
▪ Morning Movement and Mentoring (MMMP):
• This remarkable program is a collaboration between the Amherst Regional School District’s Family Center, the District’s Middle and High School staff, Amherst Police Department, the Vela After School Care Program, Recreation Department, CRESS Department, and Amherst College.
• The MMMP brings together student-athletes, staff, and other community members for the purpose of supporting our students through movement and mentoring. The MMMO supports 7th and 8th grade students while engaging them emotionally, academically, mentally, and physically.
• The goal is to create and maintain sustainable collaborations and partnerships with community cohorts and allies.
• The MMMP has about 25 students that attend. The program runs Monday- Thursday at either the High School or Middle School and begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 8:30 a.m. The students then walk together to the Middle School. There is always a full complement of students eager to workout, play basketball, and engage in a variety of other activities before school begins.
• I was amazed that so many students were motivated to get up so early to be there. The day I visited, the University of Massachusetts women’s lacrosse
team was there working and playing with the students, modeling good behavior, leadership skills, and dedication.
• This activity is paired with mentoring work with a positive message to start the day.
▪ Unity Basketball League: The Police Department staff sponsor a youth basketball team that provides uniforms, coaching, organization, and transportation to games. The team hosted seven other teams at a special multi-game night on November 9th at the Middle School. There was a large crowd in attendance for the young athletes (and they won!)
▪ Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and Co-Response:
• The Town’s CIT program is funded by an annual Department of Mental Health (DMH) grant. The DMH grant provides the Town with funds for training and provides a clinician for co-responses. The new clinician has extensive experience prior to coming to CSO. It is important to note that the clinician works for CSO and not the Town of Amherst Police Department. The new clinician will coordinate her services outside of the Police Department just as her predecessor did, which includes working with the Town’s CRESS Department, Craig’s Doors, etc.
o Fire Department:
▪ Amherst High School Students Win MIT Grant:
Students from Amherst Regional High School Aerospace Club won a prestigious
MIT Program, offers an opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention. InvenTeams are teams of high school students, educators, and mentors which receive grants of up to $7,500 to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve.
• The students put together a proposal that was one of just ten teams selected nationally. The students believe their projects have the potential to help save and improve the safety of human lives by taking a small step forward in advancing the field of search and rescue.
o Every week – it seems – The Boston Globe reports on hikers that have become lost or disoriented in the White Mountains or in Maine. While these hikers are often inexperienced, even seasoned hikers can be caught in difficult weather or trail conditions.
o Rescue teams are deployed to locate the lost hikers, determine their condition, and bring them to safety. It is dangerous work that puts the rescuer’s lives in peril. Even in the Town of Amherst, we maintain Search and Rescue teams to help hikers on the Holyoke Range who are injured, lost, or need assistance.
o The Town’s lively, inquisitive high school students were motivated to address this very real problem.
o The students are in the Aerospace Club at Amherst Regional High School and are working under the guidance of their advisor, engineering teacher John Fabel. They are passionate about aerospace engineering and are focusing their inquiry on Search and Rescue.
o They have identified two projects that are worthy of your support.
First is the development of a fully autonomous drone that would utilize image recognition and infrared sensor to scan areas with low visibility, supporting the efforts of Search and Rescue teams in locating the stranded hikers. Beyond locating the person, the students are hoping to equip the drone with a microphone and speaker to establish two-way communication of health conditions, location, and extenuating circumstances.
o The second project is to develop a device to monitor vital health signs of the Search and Rescue teams themselves including temperature, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate. The goal is to connect the monitors to the advanced mapping tool used in Search and Rescue operations called SAR-TOPO.
• Here’s a link to the press release:
▪ Open House:
• In conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week, the Amherst Fire Department hosted an Open House at the Central (downtown) fire station on October 14th. The event featured Fire and EMS vehicles and equipment on display, demonstrations such as the “Jaws of Life,” safety information and other giveaways from both the fire department and other agencies, and refreshments. There was a terrific turnout for this annual event.
o Community Responders Department:
▪ Interim Leadership Team: The Interim Leadership Team met with the Community
Safety and Social Justice Committee for several hours on November 8th updating the Committee on its work and answering numerous questions.
▪ Staffing: The Town is reviewing applicants to serve as the CRESS Director and as Community Responders. There are three vacant Community Responder positions to be filled.
▪ Dispatch Calls: The Interim Leadership Team met with the Town’s Labor and General attorneys to review the issues of concern that have been raised. The goal is to establish policies and procedures to go live before the end of the calendar year.
▪ Community Engagement: The CRESS Department is collecting necessities for the unhoused population from Town employees. “Tia’s Totes” is a donation drive that will run from November 27th to the date of the Town staff holiday party. Donation bins will be placed in a variety of locations to make it convenient for Town staff to donate necessary personal goods. This is a great and generous initiative by a CRESS Responder who knows the needs of the unhoused and a way for Town
staff to participate in helping to address that need.
▪ Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab: The Town is an active participant in 2023-2024 Alternative 9-1-1 Emergency Response Implementation Cohort of the Government Performance Lab (GPL) at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
▪ Public Presentation: Implementation Manager Kat Newman and Responder Vanessa Phillips attended the Library Journal Safety Conference with Library Director Sharon Sharry last week. They presented on the way CRESS and the Jones Library have collaborated on safety and security issues at the Jones with compassion and care. One attendee wrote, “Just a quick note to let you know how
fabulous Kat this week at the Library Journal Conference was. She did a spectacular job of representing Amherst and CRESS and the work CRESS is doing with the Jones Library. She was able to share her expertise (and enthusiasm) with a room full of Librarians. I don’t have to tell you that CRESS is pretty groundbreaking, and I hope that her talk inspires at least one other library to follow our lead.”
• Community Services
o Public Health:
▪ Vaccine Clinics:
• Public Health recently hosted three vaccine clinics in collaboration with the Northampton Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the Public Health Excellence (PHE) grant. Both COVID and flu vaccine were offered at the clinics. The Department reached close to 150 people with over 200 doses of either COVID or flu vaccine given (some people received both) between the three clinics that were held – at Clark House on 10/26; Craig’s Doors on 11/2 (mostly guests and staff); and the Bangs Community Center on 11/7, Election Day. Of the 107 people who received a vaccine at the Bangs Center on Election Day, 20 of them were walk-ins, many of whom were in the building to vote.
▪ The Health Department supported a Fall Harvest Health Fair on the Town Common for Indigenous people on Saturday October 28th. Sponsored by Native American LifeLines, Ohketeau Cultural Center, UMass School of Public Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital, the event featured the Mass General Brigham mobile van which provided free vaccinations, blood pressure checks, and diabetic screenings. There was a steady stream of people accessing the services and participating in fun fall activities throughout the afternoon.
▪ The Health Department has a good supply of free COVID home tests that it is giving out at the Health Department office to interested individuals. To date the Department has given out approximately 70 test kits (each kit contains 5 tests). The Department also has N-95 and surgical masks available outside its offices for the taking.
o Recreation: The Recreation Department held a successful Halloween-fest at the Bangs Community Center on October 29th. The Department is moving into the indoor season which focuses on basketball and other activities.
o Senior Services:
▪ Staff: After 12 years of dedicated service, Program Director/Social Worker Helen
MacMellon will retire at the end of the year. Helen has big plans to stay active – both personally and professionally – after her work for the Town. She will be missed!
▪ Newsletter: The new newsletter from the Department of Senior Services – which includes a listing of all of the dozens of workshops and meetings being offered by the Department – Amherst Senior Spirit, is now available: https://www.amherstma.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/16498
▪ Rainbow Coffee Hour: The Senior Center is sponsoring a monthly gathering of members of the LGBTQI+ communities for a social hour with “No agenda; No format; Just community.” The coffee hour is held in the Bangs Community Center.
▪ CR Café: The Senior Center is continuing its weekly CR Café, which stands for
“Can’t Remember” café! Every Wednesday from 10am – 12noon, Town residents
are invited to the Senior Center to enjoy company, entertainment, and some good treats!
▪ Claus for a Cause:
• The Senior Services Department and Council on Aging are sponsoring
“Claus for a Cause” program from November 2 – December 8.
• The program seeks to address loneliness in the senior community by identifying homebound, isolated, or, any senior in need of holiday cheer.
• They will be collecting donations of warm clothes, puzzle books, tea, cocoa, candies, lotion, lip balm, etc.
o Veterans Services:
• There are two volunteer opportunities for this program:
o 1. Bag packing: bags will be packed on Tuesday, December 12th. Interested individuals are invited to drop in during the Senior Center’s open hours (9:00am- 3:00pm) and join our merry crew. o 2. Delivery drivers: we are recruiting volunteers to deliver bags to seniors’ houses the week of December 18th. It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a meaningful connection this season. Interested parties should contact Julia MacFadzen (email@example.com)
For more information and donations drop-off locations:
▪ The Department honored the Town’s veterans with a well-attended Veterans Day event on November 11th.
• Dozens of people attended the Veterans Day breakfast at the Bangs Community Center on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Over a dozen student athletes from the University of Massachusetts man’s track and field team provided table service and socialized with the veterans. ROTC students attended in uniform to listen to stories and honor the veterans. And students from the Smith Vocational School cooked and provided a full breakfast.
• The flag ceremony was then held at 11:00 a.m. at the Central Fire Station which featured the Town Council President reading the State proclamation and Fire Chief Tim Nelson recognizing the service of veterans and their continued service after leaving the military.
▪ The Department holds a monthly Veterans Lunch program, sponsored by the CRESS Department, on the last Wednesday of every month at 12:00 noon at the Unitarian Universalist Society. We encourage Town Councilors – and any members of the public, to stop by and support our Veterans. This monthly event is organized by a local veteran who wanted to encourage veterans to come together
to share stories and receive support.
• Conservation and Development
▪ The Department utilized funding provided by the Affordable Housing Trust to hire a part-time Housing Planner who started November 6th.
▪ The Town received responses to a Request for Proposals for Downtown Design Guidelines and Streetscape Design. Staff will be reviewing the responses with the goal of hiring a design expert to begin a public process later this year or early in 2024.
▪ The Town’s Community Preservation Act Grant application closed on September 30th. The Community Preservation Act Committee will begin reviewing 15 applications for projects in support of Community Housing, Historic Preservation, Open Space, and Recreation. The proposals can be found here: https://www.amherstma.gov/3686/CPA-Proposals-FY2024
o Inspection Services:
▪ Jon Thompson, the Town’s Lead Code Enforcement Officer has retired.
▪ Ed Smith, the Town’s Health Inspector, applied for and was selected to serve as the Town’s Lead Code Enforcement Officer. Ed has extensive experience working for the Town and is now responsible for housing inspections, complaint response, and rental permitting.
▪ We will next fill the Lead Health Inspector position. This position will provide guidance to other staff regarding any of our health programs, review and inspect for septic and drinking wells, work with camps and certain housing situations. The Lead Health Inspector will support the Health Director on matters Inspection Services have before the Board of Health.
▪ Solar: The Solar Bylaw Working Group is completing its work on a solar zoning bylaw to regulate the installation of Large Scale Solar Photovoltaic Installations and a zoning bylaw governing the installation of Battery Energy Storage Systems. The Working Group has completed its work and the Planning Director is developing a cover memo and staff recommendation for consideration by the Town Council.
▪ ValleyBike: The ValleyBike network communities have decided not to deploy bikes this season and are concentrating efforts on developing an RFP to identify a new vendor/operator for the system. I note that all transportation systems and infrastructure are subsidized. This goes for the network for vehicles, transit — buses, trains, etc. Northampton, the lead agency on Valley Bike, received six responses this summer when it issued a formal request for information process seeking qualified operators. Eight communities — Springfield, West Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, Easthampton, Northampton, South Hadley, Amherst — as well as the University of Massachusetts Amherst, host Valley Bike Share.
▪ Sustainability Fellows: The Town’s Fellows from the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute concluded their work and made a presentation to key Town staff. The final reports from our summer ’23 UNHSI Fellows – the GHG Inventory Report completed by Caitlin Hart and the Municipal Building HVAC Inventory completed by Miguel Gothers-Reyes – are now complete and will be shared with the Energy and Climate Action Committee.
▪ Ball Lane aka Amherst Community Homes: The ZBA held its second public hearing session on the Amherst Community Homes project, a 30-unit affordable home-ownership development proposed by Valley Community Development Corporation for the former Matuszko Trucking site in North Amherst. This is a Comprehensive Permit, i.e. Chapter 40B, project to which the Town has contributed CPA and Housing Trust funds. It is expected that the public hearing process for this project will be completed in early 2024.
▪ East Street/Belchertown Road: The Town is working with the chosen developer, Wayfinders, on a land development agreement. The work on the development is moving forward nicely. With the due diligence work and designs well underway, we anticipate submitting the Project Eligibility Letter application to DHCD this spring to move the 40B process forward. Other work being done includes site design, wetlands flagging, and analysis of culverts.
▪ VFW – The site assessment and survey work is complete. Before demolition of the existing building can commence, the Town will need to assess the building for hazardous materials. The Town has been in discussions with various State agencies about this project and we discussed the project with Governor Healey and Secretary Augustus during their visit to the Town.
o Economic Development:
▪ Block Party: The BID Block Party was held on September 21st and was a hugesuccess. Many said it was the largest and best Block Party in the Town’s history.
▪ Boy Scouts Tree Sale: Again this year, the Boy Scouts will be selling trees at the southern most portion of Kendrick Park. Sales will begin on November 22nd and continue through December 223nd, or until all the trees are sold.
▪ Merry Maple: A new Merry Maple on the South Common (adjacent to the Spring Street Parking Lot) will be lit on December 1st at 5:00 p.m. And, yes, it is a maple tree!
▪ Here is the schedule:
• 4-6 pm – Horse Drawn Rides: by Muddy Brook Farm (arrive/depart main Town Common) and
• Cider Donuts and Cider, and S’Mores & Firepits hosted by Amherst College (on Spring Street Lot)
• 4:30 pm – Amherst Regional Middle
School Chorus (Inn on Boltwood Front Steps)
• 5:00 pm – Lighting of the Merry Maple (on the main Town Common), Lights courtesy of the Amherst BID, next to the Arches!
• 5:30 pm – UMass Marching Band parade: Santa will be delivered by the Amherst Fire Department and accompanied by the UMass Marching Band, and joined by Flakey of Amherst
Recreation for photos. Sing-alongs and merry fun
with our sponsors.
• More information is here:
• Public Works
o Stormwater Management Award:
▪ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected Amherst as one of just six
Massachusetts communities to improve stormwater management and advance environmental justice. The Town was selected to receive in-kind technical assistance from EPA to advance environmental justice for disadvantaged communities within the Pioneer Valley (Connecticut River Watershed).
▪ Through a series of meetings over the coming year, Amherst staff will work with EPA, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and consultant Horsely Witten on incorporating cost-effective green infrastructure into the Town’s stormwater management planning.
▪ Stormwater management has become critical in the effort to prepare municipalities for the effects of climate change. This grant is focused on helping environmental justice communities, such as Amherst, expand their stormwater management tool kit. The DPW staff looks forward to learning about nature-based (green)
infrastructure options that will increase our resiliency to flooding caused by climate change, and improve our ability to treat stormwater to improve the water quality of our rivers and streams.
▪ In its application, the DPW stated the Town was interested in learning about developing more reliable funding mechanisms to increase the number of nature- based solutions and green infrastructure implementations to reduce flooding and improve water quality in the town.
o Road Paving:
▪ The Town awarded a bid of $2.75 million for paving the following roads.
Unfortunately, this work was not able to be started this fall due to the backlog of workload of the winning bidder. We anticipate the roads will be paved by the end of June, 2024.
• Bellview Circle – Rolling Ridge Road to end
• Cottage Street – Chestnut Street to Morrow Lane
• Edgehill Place – Logtown Road to End
• Farmington Road– Applewood Lane to Pondview Drive
• Heatherstone Road – Pelham Road to Aubinwood Road
• Market Hill Road – Flat Hills Road to Shutesbury Townline
• North Hadley Road – Lincoln Avene to Sunset Avenue
• North Pleasant Street – McClellan Street to Triangle Street
• Oak Knoll Street– Heatherstone Road to End
• Old Farm Road – Pinegrove to Crossbrook Avenue
• Salem Street – Main Street to end
• Stony Hill Road –(eyebrow) 83 Stony Hill Road to End
• Thistle Lane – Stony Hill Road to End
• Woodside Avenue – Northampton Road (Route 9) to Hitchcock Road
▪ I have requested another appropriation of $1million from Free Cash to continue to address the need for paving. The Town Council will review this request in the coming weeks.
o Solid Waste Hauler Request for Information: The Department issued a Request for Information from waste hauling companies to gather information about the market for solid waste services. The Town received three responses from companies that provided information. Town staff are now reviewing the information that was submitted.
o Leaf Collection: Town of Amherst Leaf Collection Schedule – Fall 2023
▪ Curbside pick-up of bagged leaves, using the Town-approved, 30-gallon paper biodegradable bag, will begin Monday, October 30, 2023. There is no curbside collection of loose leaves. Loose leaves maybe brought to the Transfer Station if you have a current sticker. If you do not have a sticker, you may purchase one for $125 (residential sticker), $140 (contractor/business sticker) on-line or at the Transfer Station, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday 8:00AM – 2:00PM they accept cash or check.
▪ Place bagged leaves at the curb by 7:00AM. on the day your area is scheduled for pickup. Leaf bags will no longer be sold at the DPW or Transfer Station. Bags are available from many retailers, and prices may vary – please check that bags are biodegradable.
▪ The DPW will pick up bagged leaves only and will follow routes designated by areas of town. A second collection during the week of November 27, 2023. Place leaves, bagged in a 30-gallon paper biodegradable bag, at the curb by 7:00AM for
collection on the following dates:
o Monday, November 27, 2023, in; East & West Amherst
o Tuesday, November 28, 2023, in South Amherst
o Wednesday, November 29, 2023, in North Amherst
o Thursday, November 30, 2023, in Central Amherst
o Friday, December 1, 2023, will be a make-up day.
• If DPW trucks finish early in one area they will proceed to the next area designated for collection.
▪ Snell Street Sewer Main Break: A sewer main break caused the closure of Snell
Street for about a week. Funds are being requested from the Town Council to offset the cost of these repairs.
▪ Northampton Road: Caracas Construction is very close to completing this project which is part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation roadway reconstruction project that extends between University Drive and South Pleasant Street.
▪ College Street: This is an Eversource project to install new conduit to bring more electricity from the College Street substation to the downtown area. The efforts to electrify our buildings, especially the new buildings downtown, has required additional infrastructure to support the demand. This work, also, is expected to be completed by the end of October.
• Short-Term Event Uses of Town Commons (Section 1a of the Town Council Policy):
• Short-Term Parking Requests (Section 2a of the Town Council Policy):
• Short-Term Public Way Closures (Section 3b of the Town Council Policy):
o Merry Maple 2023 – December 1, 2023 – 3:00 – 7:00 P.M. – Spring Street between Boltwood Avenue and South Pleasant Street (including parking lot) in its entirety and assistance with partial road closures for the UMass Marching Band from Haigis Mall to the Spring Street parking lot (North Pleasant Street, East Pleasant Street, South Pleasant Street)
• Placement of Road and Temporary Signs (Section 3d of the Town Council Policy):
MAJOR CAPITAL PROJECTS
• Jones Library:
o Up-to-the-minute updates can be found here:
o The project has been reviewed by the Historical Commission, the Design Review Board, and the Disability Access Advisory Committee.
o The Planning Board will now be reviewing the Project on November 15th with a public hearing on its request for site plan and special permit approval as follows:
▪ Request Site Plan Review approval to remove and replace 1993 addition with a new addition that meets current codes and improves accessibility and access under Section 3.334 of the Zoning Bylaw; B-G (General Business) Zoning District.
▪ Request Special Permit to continue and enlarge structure with existing non- conforming dimensional setbacks in accordance with Section 9.22 of the Zoning Bylaw; B-G (General Business).
▪ Request Special Permit to extinguish previous Special Permit FY90-07 pertaining
to the 1993 addition proposed to be removed; B-G (General Business) Zoning
o The Town will be seeking bids to rent or lease about 29,000 square feet of interior space for temporary use while the Jones Library is under construction. The property must be located within three miles of the existing Jones Library and be handicap accessible. The property must possess restrooms that can accommodate large numbers of visitors and possess ample parking. The space must be flexible and able to be remodeled by the Town, if necessary, at the cost of the Town. The property must be available for move in by January 1, 2024 and remained available to the Town until December 1, 2025.
o The Jones Library will be closed (to the public and staff) on Sunday and Monday, October
15th and 16th, in order for exploratory demolition to occur (i.e., asbestos abatement). The
Branches will remain open their usual hours.
• DPW Building/Fire Building:
o The Town appropriated $100,000 to make emergency repairs to the existing DPW building to address some of the numerous issues that plague that structure. The Building Commissioner will examine the building to determine the highest priorities for utilizing these funds to make repairs. We will continue to assess the condition of the structure and the work conditions for the employees.
o Staff continue to explore multiple options for a new site for the DPW.
• Elementary School Building Committee:
▪ The design team is meeting with the Town’s development review team, which
includes Inspection Services, Fire, Conservation, Planning, Health, Public Works, etc. in one meeting to map out the permit path.
▪ Design Development plans are scheduled to be submitted to the MSBA in October.
• Town Hall Steps: Repairs to the front steps of the Amherst Town Hall at the Boltwood Avenue side of the building are nearing completion with a projected reopening of the front entrance in early December. The public is advised to use the accessible entrance on the Main St. side of the building during this time.
• Centennial Water Treatment Facility:
o Construction on the Centennial Water Treatment Facility has begun site preparation and we are completing the financing and construction agreements with the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust which had voted to create a commitment for the Town’s loan. The agreement includes a Project Regulatory Agreement; Financing Agreement; and Loan Closings for the interim loan (0% interest); and permanent loan (1.5%). The State Revolving Fund (SRF) is structured as a loan forgiveness program that is intended to make the project more affordable to communities and their rate payers.
o The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust awarded additional support for the project.
More information on this additional subsidy will be shared shortly.
o Until 2018, the Pelham-based Centennial Water Treatment Plant filtered about 1 million gallons a day of surface water for Amherst. The existing facility was in dire need of replacement, due to the age of the facility, as well as changes in the water quality that make the existing treatment process less effective. This project includes construction of a new Centennial Water Treatment Facility with effective and efficient treatment technology.
o Construction on this project began in May 2023. Demolition of the existing Centennial Water Treatment Plant is complete. Construction on its replacement is expected to finish in May 2025.
• Pomeroy Village MassWorks Grant: Final touches are being made at the Pomeroy Village Roundabout, mostly signage and crosswalk signals. The roundabout is operational as the final pieces of the work continue. The response by the public and local businesses has been overwhelmingly positive.
• North Common Restoration/Main Street Parking Lot: Construction continues on the North Common Renovations. The initial is making great progress on the underground utilities such as sewer, water, and drainage infrastructure. Boltwood Avenue is closed between Spring
Street and Town Hall for certain periods of time to facilitate construction.. Egress from the
Town Hall rear parking lot will be accommodated.
• North Amherst Library: We are awaiting some final material and inspections so we can receive a Certificate of Occupancy. The garage has been removed and final landscape improvements have been made. The parking lot is now paved.
• Hickory Ridge:
o Solar: Town staff have been working with State officials on the layout and design of our proposed trail network.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
➢ November 20th – Town Council Meeting
➢ November 23-24 – Thanksgiving Holiday
➢ December 4th – Town Council Meeting
➢ December 18th – Town Council Meeting
➢ December 22nd – Christmas Eve (half-day holiday observed)
➢ December 25th – Christmas Day Holiday
➢ January 1st – New Year’s Day Holiday
➢ January 2nd – Town Council Swearing-in Ceremony
➢ January 2nd – Town Council Meeting