HCN News & Notes

Town of Amherst, UMass Amherst Announce New Strategic Partnership Agreement

AMHERST — The town of Amherst and UMass Amherst announced a multi-year strategic partnership agreement recognizing the shared interests and responsibilities of the town and the university. The total value of university contributions to the town over the five-year agreement is $5.5 million, nearly double the university’s previous investment.

“For the past decade, I have had the pleasure of calling Amherst home. I am happy that, as I prepare to depart, we are able to finalize this strategic partnership agreement,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “The university and the town have always worked closely together, and this agreement will serve to strengthen our partnership in the years to come so that Amherst remains as one of the top college towns in America.”

Added Town Manager Paul Bockelman, “after many months of frank and fruitful discussions, I am very pleased that we have a new agreement. The town and the university meet regularly and work well together. I especially want to recognize Chancellor Subbaswamy, who has been committed to completing this agreement, which recognizes the important role the university plays in the town.”

The agreement includes a significant increase in the university’s support for fire and ambulance services, including the purchase of a new ambulance, yearly support toward town services to promote safe and healthy neighborhoods, and an increase in the university’s annual contribution to support the education of K-12 students residing in university-owned housing.

Key elements to the agreement include $3.5 million ($700,000 annually) for fire and ambulance services, $400,000 ($100,000 annually beginning in FY24) toward town services that support safe and healthy neighborhoods; and $1 million ($200,000 annually) into the town’s public schools to support the education of K-12 students residing in university-owned, tax-exempt housing. The university will also pay $125,000 ($25,000 annually) to support other services provided by the town.

One-time payments by the university include the purchase of a new ambulance for the town valued at $400,000, a $50,000 investment — to be matched by the town — to fund economic development, and university funding up to $65,000 for a pedestrian safety study along the town-owned North Pleasant Street corridor that bisects the campus.

In addition, the university will continue to provide funding equal to that of a 6% lodging fee for each occupied room per night at Hotel UMass (excluding rooms paid for by university accounts), which amounted to approximately $120,000 in FY22. The university will also continue to pay the town for licenses, fees, and services, including water and sewer service, which last year totaled more than $3.4 million.

The new partnership agreement marks the sixth time the town and university have entered into an accord, dating back to 1995. The new agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2022 and extends through June 30, 2027.

In the spirit of the strong and long-established town-gown partnership, the agreement commits town and campus leadership to continued and enhanced cooperation around planning, housing, economic development, and public infrastructure, and memorializes the frequency and salient topics being addressed. Also, the university and town pledge to continue to work together on conservation, sustainability, and resiliency efforts and the responsible stewardship of the local environment and natural resources, including strategies around water conservation and wastewater effluent use.

“This agreement is an important step in recognizing our shared needs and concerns and sets an exciting new standard for our relationship going forward,” Bockelman said.

Added Subbaswamy, “in any town-gown relationship, there are bound to be ups and downs. But we know we are better when we work together. This agreement shows that we are both confident about the relationship and our future shared successes.”