AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Town of Amherst today announced the appointment of a joint town-gown steering committee to oversee the development of a joint town-gown plan to address issues affecting the campus and nearby neighborhoods. The committee will hold its initial meeting later this month.
The announcement was made by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Amherst Town Manager John Musante. A key aspect of the committee’s agenda is to hire a consultant who will assist with a review of the master plans of both the town and the university to find areas where they coincide, where they may be in conflict, and where opportunities may have been missed. The panel will also look at techniques used by college towns across the country to address town-gown issues, review housing plans from the town and expansion plans by the campus, and look at the economic development plans from the town and UMass Amherst.
Subbaswamy said, “We all recognize the importance of healthy town-gown relations, and this committee will focus on identifying common interests and goals that will strengthen and bind our communities. Collaboration is essential to future prosperity and quality of life.”
Musante noted, “I’m enthusiastic about the make-up of this committee, and the energy and expertise they will bring to the challenges and opportunities that we face. Amherst has rightly been described as one of the best college towns in America, and that maintaining that success hinges on mutual understanding and partnerships.”
In April, Subbaswamy proposed to Amherst town officials that they jointly hire a consultant to assess key community development issues, including ways to strengthen boundary neighborhoods and bolster the local economy. Subbaswamy offered to split the estimated $60,000 cost with the town, and spoke at Amherst Town Meeting in support of the idea. On May 15, Town Meeting members approved the proposal and the $30,000 for the town’s share of the cost passed on a 122-46 vote.
The panel will hold its initial meeting Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. in the community room at the UMass Police Department on East Pleasant Street. Its first task is to review and approve a request for proposal to hire and work with a consultant.
Members of the panel from UMass Amherst are committee co-chair Nancy Buffone, executive director of external relations and university events; Enku Gelaye, interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life; Niels la Cour, senior physical planner, campus planning; Steve Schreiber, professor of art, architecture and art history; Andy Churchill, senior research fellow,College of Education; Rolf Karlstrom, professor and chair of the biology department and campus neighbor; Amilcar Shabazz, faculty advisor to the chancellor for diversity and excellence; Savannah Van Leuvan-Smith, undergraduate student; an undergraduate student to be named later; John Kennedy (ex officio),vice chancellor for university relations, and Dennis Swinford (ex officio), director of campus planning.
The members from the Town of Amherst are committee co-chairDavid Ziomek, assistant town manager and director, conservation and development; Stephanie O’Keeffe, chair, Amherst Select Board; David Webber, chair, Amherst Planning Board; Greg Stutsman, Amherst Planning Board; Scott Livingstone, police chief; Tony Maroulis, executive director, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; John Kuhn,Kuhn Riddle Architects; Ken Rosenthal, neighbor; Phil Jackson, neighbor; Jonathan Tucker (ex officio), director, Amherst Planning Department, and Sandy Pooler (ex officio), Amherst finance director.