Amherst plans ‘community conversation’ about downtown parking

Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2014
AMHERST — Downtown merchants have long believed that Amherst does not have enough parking, even though a 2008 survey indicated that a sufficient number of public parking spaces do exist in the town’s center.

But the Planning Board and Planning Department are beginning community forums to discuss parking because that survey completed by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is more than six years old. Also, changes planned for downtown include mixed-use developments that take advantage of the municipal parking district and do not require developers to provide on-site parking,

“The big picture is that it’s time for a community conversation,” said Town Manager John Musante.

Planners will hold the first forum at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 in the meeting room at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, 121 North Pleasant St.

Musante said planners want to get broad thoughts about parking in downtown, including what works well and what does not.

Parking issues, along with revisions to so-called inclusionary zoning that would require developers to provide affordable housing units in their projects, are expected to be addressed by planners in the coming months.

A portion of the town’s website will focus on parking and additional information will be available in advance of the first forum.