A Thriving Amherst Center
Make Amherst a Destination
A recent retail market analysis revealed a significant inflow of spending into Amherst from outside communities on dining and drinking. Amherst is already a food and drink destination. Beyond that, Amherst Cinema, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and various festivals serve as cultural attractions. Town Council should continue to cultivate Amherst as a tourist destination. This means supporting businesses downtown, effective tourism marketing, and tackling issues that may dissuade people from visiting. One of these is a perceived shortage of parking. Parking should be easy and available. The Council should investigate a parking garage option and reevaluate parking enforcement hours in Amherst Center.
Mixed Use Development
Businesses in Amherst Center need two things: space and customers. Vacancy rates for commercial space downtown are lower than nearby areas, and there is unmet demand for lab and office space (especially large spaces). Increased mixed use development in Amherst Center, East Amherst, and other village centers can create new commercial spaces and housing than can supply offices and retailers with a nearby customer base. Greater mixed use development will encourage living, working, and shopping in Amherst Center, building a stronger local economy and a sustainable community. To encourage mixed use infill development in the village centers, the Council should investigate zoning restrictions and complex permitting and review processes that may constrain projects.
Support Local Businesses
Starting and sustaining a business in Amherst should be easy. But Evan has talked to business owners who have faced roadblocks and hurdles to opening or expanding their businesses. Town Council should take a look at regulatory constraints and investigate ways to reduce the hoops and hurdles local business owners face.
Preserve Historic Character
While Amherst needs development to expand the tax base and fund important services, many residents have understandable concerns about the potential loss of Amherst's historic character from new development projects. Evan believes that you can have both development and small town charm and will work to ensure new development reflects Amherst's historic New England image. The Council should investigate form based code as one option for ensuring new development fits with the overall character of the town.