Healthy & Sustainable Communities
Protect Open Space & Farmland
The 2010 Amherst Master Plan created a blueprint for our town going forward. One of the Council's primary tasks will be to review and update the Master Plan to reflect changes in the town over the past eight years. But the overall goal of directing development to the village centers while preserving outlying rural areas and farmland should remain intact. High density development is more sustainable than sprawl, and by focusing on increased density in village centers Amherst can meet the demands for housing and commerce without sacrificing its rural character or jeopardizing environmentally sensitive areas. In questions of planning, Evan will encourage smart growth policies that seek to minimize the impacts of development to safeguard our natural areas. He will also advocate for protecting ecologically important areas, vulnerable habitats and species, and working farmlands.
Amherst should work to build an interconnected multi-modal transportation network that allows people to make their way through town with or without a car. Amherst has made great strides towards this goal. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) has an established network of buses throughout Amherst that connect parts of town and surrounding communities. Bike lanes, the Norwottuck Rail Trail, and the UMass Connector encourage bicycle travel. And the new ValleyBike bike share allows residents and visitors to travel the town on bike. But obstacles remain. As state funding hasn’t kept pace with rising costs for the PVTA, the threat of fare hikes and service cutbacks looms perennially. The PVTA is an essential service to many members of our community, including students and low-income residents. Amherst and its elected officials must be advocates for greater funding for regional transit services, including the PVTA. For non-motorized transport, many areas lack bike lanes, and new connectors are needed to connect village centers and support cyclists. Some neighborhoods lack sidewalks, and across town sidewalks are in disrepair or lack enough crosswalks. Future planning and public works projects must aim for complete streets.
Having spent a summer working as a park interpreter guiding guests through Holyoke Range State Park, Evan knows Amherst's parks and over 80 miles of hiking and walking trails improve the health and quality of life of its residents, and serve as a draw for people to visit and live in Amherst. Town Council must continue to maintain, expand, and connect Amherst's parks, recreation areas, and protected lands. Evan supports the broad goals outlined in the town's updated Open Space and Recreation Plan-- including establishing dog parks, expanding universal access trails and recreational opportunities, and improving recreational facilities-- and will work to secure funding for these initiatives.
Amherst has often led the state in implementing policies that embrace environmental sustainability, from the bans on take-out styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, to waste reduction and recycling programs run by the Department of Public Works. Amherst should continue moving forward and making smart changes to decrease the town's environmental impacts.