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Around Amherst: Restaurants challenged, but still strong



Staff Writer
Thursday, May 03, 2018

AMHERST — An analysis of economic indicators for Amherst shows that challenges exist to get more retail establishments in downtown, but that restaurants remain strong and even more such dining options could be successful in town.

At recent economic development forum, Lori Tanner, senior economic development policy analyst for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, explained the current conditions for Amherst.

“It’s still a dining destination, it already is a dining destination, and there is potential for additional dining and drinking,” Tanner said.

But there is not enough residential development in Amherst to support new retail enterprises, though it’s possible that Amherst could add another clothing store or health and beauty store, according to Tanner’s report.

Her concern is that 57 percent of household spending by residents is done outside Amherst, what she calls “retail leakage.” This means many of the shopping destinations are the big box stores in Hadley.

Amherst Business Improvement Executive Director Sarah la Cour said the report captured some of the long-running concerns, including that it is easier to go through permitting in Hadley than Amherst.

But she said there is optimism coming from developments bringing housing and jobs downtown, such as the Kendrick Place and One East Pleasant mixed-use developments, and the AmherstWorks co-working space.

“I’m excited we’re starting a new trend of bringing people back,” la Cour said. “I think we can stop of the leakage, and I think we already have.”

This was the first of three public forums that will help shape Amherst’s economic development strategy.

Nomination forms

Following Town Meeting action Monday, the town clerk’s office has made nomination forms available for the Nov. 6 election in which the first 13 members of the Town Council would be elected.

By Wednesday morning, two candidates had emerged.

Current Select Board member Alisa Brewer, 5 Fairfield St., took out papers for a townwide council seat, while James Roche, 22 Lessey St., Apartment 208, got papers for a District 4 position.

Three people will be elected to the townwide seats, while 10 individuals will be elected from the five districts.

Papers, with 25 signatures for district office and 50 signatures for townwide office, must be returned by June 29 to be eligible to get on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Those candidates could participate in a preliminary election Sept. 4 if there are more than twice as many candidates as slots to fill.

Office hours

Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, I-Amherst, will hold office hours in Amherst twice this month.

Constituent service office hours, for personal and confidential issues that need to be addressed, will take place Monday from 8 to 9 a.m. at Amherst Coffee, 28 Amity St.

Legislative office hours, for legislation issues and updates, will be held May 14 from 11 a.m. to noon at Applewood Senior Living Center on Spencer Drive.

Forum on playing fields

The Amherst Center Recreation Working Group will hold a second public forum on plans to improve ballfields Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Town Room at Town Hall.

Weston & Sampson, a landscape architecture company, will present concept plans. The working group is seeking comments from residents on these.

Public meeting notices

With the large screens at the entrances to Town Hall not always functioning, the Select Board recently authorized the town clerk to use the town website as the primary place to post meeting notices.

A binder at the town clerk’s office will also continue to have all meetings listed for those who can’t access the website.

Best margarita

Firs-time entrance The Spoke won the best margarita at this year’s Margarita Madness.

The annual Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce event was held April 26 at the Lord Jeffery Inn.

Meetings

MONDAY: Local Historic District Commission, 4:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Select Board, 6 p.m., band room, middle school; Town Meeting, 7 p.m., middle school auditorium.

TUESDAY: Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, 6 p.m., high school library.

WEDNESDAY: Select Board, 6 p.m., band room, middle school; Town Meeting, 7 p.m., middle school auditorium.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.