Video: Northampton State Hospital Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting, 11/17/08

Here is a complete Google video of the November 17 meeting of the Northampton State Hospital Citizens Advisory Committee. The video is 3 hours long, and was recorded by Lachlan Ziegler. The meeting took place in Florence in the John F. Kennedy Middle School Community Room.

Roughly the first hour of the meeting presented the revised Master Plan, addressing residential units, open space, trip generation, commercial tax revenue, and other subjects. An extensive public discussion followed. Download a PDF of the revised Master Plan Slide Show (5.6MB). Download the official minutes (PDF) of the meeting.

Selected highlight: 1:50:00-1:57:46
George Kohout, member of the Planning Board
Expresses appreciation for the outlining of more green areas. Would like more information on why the number of additional proposed homes is targeted at 100. The original plan had some benchmarks around the amount of commercial activity. Will the target for commercial activity grow as the number of residential units grows? Wants a village look, a village mix. Concerned about a stratification of homes and incomes in the development. Consider larger greenspaces that can accommodate a range of activities. Consider a structure dedicated to community use.

Selected highlight: 2:03:43-2:07:28
Fran Volkmann, vice chair of the Community Preservation Committee
“I don’t know where the garages and the driveways are going to go and what that’s going to do to the streetscape.” “I worry a little about some of the lack of greenspace, actually.” Hold public hearings well in advance of when any vote is to be taken.

The day after the meeting, the Gazette reported:

Once again, the panel charged with overseeing the development of
Village Hill Northampton needed more time Monday to decide whether to
allow the construction of 100 more housing units after hearing the
public sound off on the proposal…

To address the many
different questions raised at the hearing, Higgins said she would
schedule two meetings for next month. The first would be a workshop the
advisory committee and the city’s Planning Board. The second will be
another developer presentation, with public comment, at the same

See also:

Village Hill Demographic Projections (PDF)

[In the projections below, note how “New Suburban Neighborhoods” have a relatively high percentage of school-age children. If Village Hill follows more closely to that pattern as opposed to the Planning Department’s assumptions, this would boost the number of school-age children in the development. The Planning Board discussed this possibility and its implications at its November 13 meeting.]

November 13 Planning Board Meeting: Hazards Mitigation Plan; Zoning
Revisions Committee; Hotel Northampton Complaint; Hospital Hill
Diverging from Vision of Planned Village; Comments on Notre Dame
Charrette Website

Members of the Planning Board Are Displeased with
How Hospital Hill/Village Hill Is Diverging from Their Vision of a
Planned Village

The Citizens Advisory Committee will meet to
discuss Hospital Hill on November 17. Members of the Planning Board
expressed concern that by the time Hospital Hill proposals come to
them, they have too much momentum to be changed much.

Planning Board had envisioned Hospital Hill would be a planned village
with mixed uses (housing, commercial, retail). What’s actually evolving
appears to be a “huge subdivision” with different levels of housing…

Gilson expressed concern that the number of school-age children who may
come to live at Hospital Hill may impose a substantial economic burden
on the city, especially in light of the large percentage of housing
slated to be “affordable”, possibly up to 50%. Gilson: “My worry is we
create an area up there that the city can’t afford…”

Jodrie: “We have an awful working relationship with this developer
[MassDevelopment]… They’re going about this in a way that’s not
working with us at all… I’m extremely disappointed in this process…
It’s MassDevelopment who’s not listening to us [as opposed to the
Citizens Advisory Committee]. They don’t hear what we tell them about
what our interpretation of this village is…”

Jodrie: “…the developer is not complying with our vision of what a
village ought to be… We need to tell the developer directly that
they’re not going to get these approvals when they arrive here
regardless of what the CAC says.”

2:25:25… Baker: “It does
seem as though there are these end runs like there was with the police
department [regarding their new police station] where they come to us
finally and say, ‘Well, this has already been approved and there’s been
all these other hearings and you know, you just can’t raise that

2:26:35… Dierenger: “I think that we have to fight
that pressure… What I’m sensing here is that this is what MassHousing
is doing. They have this strategy of going to CAC, getting their
approval and then things fester politically and then the pressure
mounts for us to just approve what everyone already thinks is a
foregone conclusion ’cause CAC approved it… We know that’s not true.
We know what our purview is. We know what we have control over…
[Resisting the pressure is] going to suck, but…we’re not the CAC…”

Johnson: “There was testimony that there would be substantially fewer
children than there would be in the normal number of housing units.”

Gilson: “Yeah, but you can’t vote on that. You can’t restrict people
with children from moving into a neighborhood… They’re two-bedroom
houses. You can stick four people into a two-bedroom house…”

Video: Third public “in-process” presentation and feedback session for Design Northampton Week
Here is a complete Vimeo video
of Design Northampton Week’s third public “in-process” presentation and
feedback session that took place on September 11. It’s one hour and 32
minutes long. Notre Dame students presented ideas for revitalizing King
Street between Bridge Road and North Street. They also made suggestions
about Hospital Hill (Village Hill), particularly the part Kollmorgen is
slated to move to. Click to see the existing and proposed designs for Hospital Hill (Village Hill).

Video: June 26 Planning Board Meeting Discusses Hospital Hill, Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Northampton Soccer Club

Valley Advocate Critiques Sustainable Northampton Plan
the diagram of the planned single-use sprawl [on Hospital Hill] a mile
and a half from downtown, the mayor remarked on how well the architect
used urban design principles by packing a lot of homes into the design.
Density of construction is, of course, only one principle of urban
design, but without regard for mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods,
packed housing can also be a ghetto.

Valley Advocate: Northampton: No “Village” at Hospital Hill (6/12/08)