Residents discuss ways to improve the Town of Amherst

Some 37,000 people live in Amherst and rising

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday night, at the UMass Police Station, the Town-Gown Steering Committee helped the university and town officials find ways to face local challenges together.

According to John Kuhn of the Town-Gown Steering Committee, “The town has done a master plan, the university has a master plan, but they didn’t really plan together.”

That’s all about to change. Some 37-thousand people live in Amherst, and those numbers are on the rise. Town leaders say the housing market has been tough for residents on several fronts.

Asstant Town Manager Dave Ziomek said, “We are struggling with price points in Amherst. We need more affordable housing. We need to look at options for student housing in the right locations in town.”

The right locations being key. After parties like the Blarney Blowout, where thousands of people partied out of control and 75 were arrested, residents want to make sure students respect the neighborhoods if more off campus housing is built.

Thursday night’s meeting didn’t just discuss improving the housing market in Amherst but also boosting local businesses.

The town and university hired consultant firm U3 Advisors to help generate more revenue, and to make sure it’s done in a way where Amherst can keep its small town charm.

George Smith of U3 Advisors told 22News, “It’s an overriding concern. I think Amherst character and quality of life are so unique. The idea of more economic growth can run counter to that.”

Working with the town and UMass, U3 Consulting is collecting data to address housing and business issues. A follow up meeting is expected in August.

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