North Common/Main St. Parking Project

Town Common
  1. Introduction
  2. Maps/Plans & Photos
  3. Timeline & Additional Resources
  4. Meetings
  5. Project Team Members

North Common/Main Street Parking Lot Project

Overview of Project

The Project

The Town of Amherst is excited to launch the latest phase in the North Common/Main Street Parking Lot improvement project. 

The North Common project is the result of several years of planning and community participation.  Three community forums were held, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, to discuss the future of the North Common and to begin to think about design.  There was lot of public participation; and many good ideas were shared.

Over the past few years the Department of Public Works staff has been studying the Main Street Parking Lot and making plans for its renovation. 

In the winter of 2017/2018 town staff began to realize that the North Common and Main Street Parking Lot are really two parts of the same project.  The North Common and the Parking Lot are inextricably bound together at their edges and both the Common and the Parking Lot are sorely in need of rejuvenation and tender loving care.

The Site

The North Common is the northernmost section of the original historic common in Amherst’s Town Center.  It is a portion of the public right-of-way in the Town center, located north of Spring Street and south of Main Street.  The North Common is now used informally as a public common and is managed by the Department of Public Works, with oversight by the Amherst Historical Commission, under the broad jurisdiction of the Select Board. 

The municipal parking lot lies just north of the green, park-like North Common.  The parking lot is considered part of the Common.  The Main Street Parking Lot is critical to the life of downtown businesses and institutions and it is showing its age.

Only a few permanent park amenities have been installed on the North Common since the late 1960’s and improvements to the Parking Lot have been minimal.

The North Common is heavily used for many different types of activities, including ceremonies to honor veterans, peace vigils, activities associated with the Farmers’ Market, celebrations, protests and performances.

Currently the North Common and the Parking Lot are showing wear and tear.  Poor drainage, lack of ground cover, damage to tree roots, lack of spaces for people to sit and gather, awkward grading and pavement deterioration have been some of the problems that this project hopes to address. 

Funding

The budget for this project is approximately $850,000.  This total amount is made up of funds recommended by the Community Preservation Act Committee and approved by Town Meeting and funds from the Transportation Enterprise Fund.

Process

A working group has been formed.  It is composed of members of the Amherst Historical Commission, the Leisure Services and Supplemental Education (LSSE) Commission, and town staff. 

Weston & Sampson, a landscape architecture and engineering firm based in Boston, has been hired to conduct a participatory community design process beginning in April of 2018, culminating in a finished product in the fall of 2019.

The process will include public meetings to remind ourselves of what has been done to date, to solicit input from the community on concepts and schematics, to discuss ideas for improvements and to present a final plan for public review.

Weston & Sampson will conduct a site inventory and analysis and prepare Concept Plans for review by the public, the Historical Commission, LSSE and the Select Board.  Once a Final Concept Plan has been chosen, Weston & Sampson will prepare more detailed Schematic Plans, including grading, drainage, landscape, lighting and site improvement plans. 

The working group will hold public meetings along the way to present these plans and to solicit input.

Once the Schematic Plans have been reviewed and approved, final Construction Documents will be prepared and the project will be put out to bid with an expected construction period to begin in May 2019.

We welcome your participation and look forward to working with you!

Project Team

Historical Commission Members
Jan Marquardt and Steve Bloom
LSSE Commission Members
Sarah Marshall and Nate Buddington
Town Staff Members
Christine Brestrup, Planning Director, Planning Department, Project Leader
Barbara Bilz, Director, LSSE Department
Jason Skeels, Town Engineer, DPW
Paul Dethier, Engineer, DPW

CPA Proposal 2018

CPA Proposal 2016