March/April update

The University-Town of Amherst Collaborative Steering Committee will meet on Thursday, April 14 at 5pm in the Town Room in Amherst Town Hall. This will be the third meeting of the Steering Committee since UTAC's launch in October. 

At the last meeting Steering Committee gave the go-ahead to the Culture, Arts & Living subcommittee to pursue an ArtPlace America Creative Placemaking Fund grant for a proposed proposed project using art to better link UMass and downtown Amherst. This meeting will focus on the Steering Committee's role in relation to the Economic Development, Housing, and Culture subcommittees. 

Meanwhile, the subcommittees have been busy, with all forming or planning to form subgroups on issues that have been identified and prioritized for further study or action. Here's a quick update on each:

Economic Development: The Subcommittee last met on March 21 and has organized itself into several smaller working groups focused on those themes. The working groups will concentrate on High Value Research Activities, Creative Fields and Activities, Retail and Restaurants, Entrepreneurship and Start-ups, and Understanding the Amherst Economy. The Retail and Restaurants working group and the Understanding the Amherst Economy working group have already held their first meetings and begun generating ideas to bring back to the subcommittee.

Housing: As many of the committee members were new to various aspects related to the complexities of Housing in Amherst, the group committed to a crash course in the subject over the first several months of meetings before committing to recommendations for the Steering Committee to consider. In March, John Kuhn walked the group through the Amherst Zoning bylaw, and in April, Ken Rosenthal presented on the Amherst Community Land Trust

The group is also beginning working groups that hope to study housing types built for traditional and non-traditional families associated with the University, tackle faculty and staff housing incentives, and to conduct an analysis of impacts on current housing stock with the potential creation of new inventory.

Culture, Arts & Living: The group last met on March 24, at which members discussed a possible contingent to attend the upcoming Americans for the Arts conference in Boston in June, which will focus on public art. The group will also begin the process of convening working groups to attend to the previously identified cultural themes and priorities, among them: planning for the ARTBridge grant application and exhibition and the creation of a cultural calendar for Amherst and the campus.