Around Amherst: Survival Center bringing back indoor dining, activities

  • The Amherst Survival Center will reopen indoor dining and community activities starting Sept. 1. gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Monday, August 22, 2022

AMHERST — Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Amherst Survival Center moved to an outdoor meal pick up, and relocated many of its services to keep people safe, dining inside and indoor community activities are returning starting Sept. 1.

“After shifting operations in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the center is eager to revive this heart of who we are,” Executive Director Lev Ben-Ezra said in a statement, explaining that the center, at 138 Sunderland Road, is a community hub, gathering space and connection point.

The center, closed on Wednesdays, will be open other weekdays from noon to 3 p.m., with the hot lunch served until 2:30 p.m. People can also use the pantry, resource center, computers and other services available for those experiencing homelessness.

The food pantry continues to be open for in-person shopping, curbside pick-up and grocery delivery, including on Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m. and on third Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Daily produce pick-up and to-go meals will continue to be available outside.

“By offering both indoor dining and to-go pick up, we are making sure we offer both the vibrant community space the center is known for, and also offering a fast, convenient option for people to take meals home for themselves or family members,” said Philip Avila, community meals coordinator.

COVID data and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community risk levels, and area hospitalization rates, will be used to maintain safety during this transition. In addition, masks will be available, and air-filtration, sanitizing and protocols for staying home when sick remain in place.

More electric buses

Adding more electric school buses to the nine-bus fleet may be a challenge, both due to their cost and their limited range before needing to be recharged.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman recently wrote in a weekly report to the Town Council that adding a second electric bus to the fleet, which has seven diesel buses and one gas bus, will not be easy.

Electric buses cost about $300,000, compared to the $115,000 price for buying a conventional bus. The experience with the lone electric bus in operation is that it needs to be recharged after one route, making it impossible to use for other activities during the day, such as field trips and athletic contests.

The town is also setting aside $150,000 for replacing the four battery packs used by the electric bus.

Jake’s departing

Jake’s at the Mill District will close permanently to make way for a new restaurant.

The second Jake’s, opened in 2018 in the Trolley Barn on Cowls Road by Alex Washut and Chris Ware, will close for a variety of reasons, including impacts from COVID-19, staffing shortages and the cost of food. The original Jake’s in downtown Northampton remains open.

Though Washut and Ware had planned to open a special events venue at the location, when they heard another restaurant was interested in the space, they opted to close.

“It’s undeniable that a bustling restaurant is what’s best for the neighborhood,” Ware said.

Arthur Haskins, director of Real Estate and Community Development for property owner W.D. Cowls, said the new restaurant is expected to have breakfast burritos, Latin favorites like pupusas and fried plantains and American breakfast staples like eggs with toast and bacon.

Apartments open

The former North Village apartment complex on North Pleasant Street, rebuilt by the University of Massachusetts to make way for the renamed University Village, is reopening this month.

About 20 tenants who previously lived at the complex until it closed in spring 2020 are returning to the site, which has 140, two-bedroom townhomes for families affiliated with UMass.

Graduate students who were former North Village residents and who are still studying at the university have first preference to relocate to the new development, which includes a shared community center, play structures, a playing field and pedestrian walkways.

Pomeroy Village bids

Amherst is seeking bids from contractors to construct the roundabout that will be built at the signalized intersection of Pomeroy Lane and West Street.

Bids are due Aug. 25 for the estimated $1.5 million construction project, funded by a MassWorks Infrastrucure Grant.


TUESDAY: Jones Library Buildings and Facilities Committee, 9 a.m., Jones Library Building Committee, 4 p.m. and Dog Park Task Force, 7 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: Energy and Climate Action Committee, 4:30 p.m.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., including requested extension for construction of solar arrays at the former Hickory Ridge Golf Course.