Around Amherst: Forum to address downtown improvement

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

AMHERST — Praising Amherst’s small-town feel, its cultural amenities and public transportation, while expressing concern about the shape of its roads and sidewalks, the narrow mix of stores and the large size of new buildings, residents and business owners in June offered feedback about what they like and don’t like about downtown Amherst.

Next week, a second forum focused on Amherst center takes place at the Pole Room at the Bangs Community Center, with the aim to begin developing concrete ways of improving downtown.

Led by the Planning Board and Planning Department staff, Planning Director Christine Brestrup said the interactive conversation, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6, will serve as a review of the previous forum and examine how people view the size of downtown and what they identify as their favorite places.

During the evening, people will be shown images of downtowns from around the country to garner responses to the streetscapes, massing of buildings and proximity of buildings to roads, and how lessons elsewhere could apply to Amherst.

Brestrup said if participants can reach consensus on what defines the downtown, where development should happen and the transition zones needed to protect neighborhoods, new zoning bylaws can be developed.

She said she hopes to see varied opinions. “Getting people to listen to each other and to talk to each other is one of the best things that can happen with the forum,” Brestrup said.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said he believes concrete ideas could develop.

“This time we will focus on how to preserve downtown and how to shape it for the future,” Bockelman said.

Arts celebration

A second event that will promote the arts and the Amherst Center Cultural District will be held at AmherstWorks, 11 Amity St., Tuesday evening.

“A Celebration of the Arts in Amherst - Part 2,” which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. and will feature a range of visual arts, music from a cappella groups Green Street Brew and UMASS Duly Noted, and refreshments.

Ann Tweedy, marketing and communication director for the Amherst Business Improvement District, said the celebration is a chance for folks to learn about the Amherst Cultural Council and the money it has available to support projects, and to learn more about the district, designated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2016.

Cuppa Joe with Paul

Unlike previous Cuppa Joe events in which Bockelman meets with the public, the next event will not take place at a local cafe.

Instead, Bockelman will be at the Bangs Community Center Dec. 8 at 7:30 a.m. He will bring a box of coffee.

Bockelman will be joined by Jones Library Director Sharon Sharry and people are welcome to bring comments, compliments and concerns.

Professors named fellows

University of Massachusetts linguistics professor Angelika Kratzer and computer science professor Prashant Shenoy have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of their “efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

Kratzer, a native of Germany who holds a doctorate from the University of Konstanz, has been a member of the faculty since 1985.

Shenoy, who earned a doctorate in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a member of the faculty since 1998.

Both fellows will get a certificate and a gold-and-blue rosette pin during the society’s 2018 annual meeting in Austin, Texas in February. The tradition of honoring fellows began in 1874.

Protecting sacred stone landscapes

Climate Action Now on Sunday is holding a benefit presentation at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, 845 West St., to raise money to protect Native American sacred stone landscapes.

Beginning at 3 p.m., Doug Harris, the Narragansett Indian Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, will be joined by attorney Anne Marie Garti in an illustrated talk that will conclude with a question-and-answer period.

Some of these ceremonial stone landscapes, which under traditional belief create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth, are believed to be threatened to make way for gas pipeline projects, including at the Otis State Forest in Sandisfield

For more information, contact Susan Theberge at 575-7345 or susantheberge@icloud.com.


MONDAY: Complete Streets/ Traffic Calming Subcommittee, 4:30 p.m., Conference Room, Department of Public Works; Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Transportation Advisory Committee, 7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY: Recycling and Refuse Management Committee, 4:30 p.m., Lower Meeting Room, Bangs Community Center; Planning Board, 7 p.m., Pole Room, Bangs Community Center.

THURSDAY: Kanegasaki Sister City Committee, 4 p.m., Garrabrants Room, Bangs Community Center; Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.