UMass Campus Community coalition wants to talk options beyond alcohol at downtown Amherst forum
By Diane Lederman
October 17, 2016
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts officials along with downtown supporters will meet Tuesday to talk about creating nightlife options that are both safe and appealing to college-age people.
The UMass Amherst Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking has organized the event to look at the role of businesses that sell alcohol in driving the local economy and ask how to engage all “citizens in bringing vitality, arts, culture, retail, food, drink and more to one of the best college towns in America,” according to a press release.
The idea is to explore “the vision of a vibrant and safe nightlife that fosters community and revitalizes the economy, promotes fun, entertainment and lively all-ages options.”
Tony Maroulis, UMass director of community relations, said organizers would like to explore activities for people in the 18 to 21 age group. “There’s not quite enough options,” he said.
He said the session is a way to talk about “what is currently available and how do we add to more of these to our area.”
The recent opening of Autobahn Indoor Speedway at the Hampshire Mall offers one outlet, Maroulis said. But there is also a need for places that serve food late at night and space for all-ages musical performances, he said.
Former Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe will moderate the event. The panel includes Sarah la Cour, executive director of the Amherst Business Imporvement District; Anthony Vitale, president of the UMass Student Government Association; George Myers, general manager of the Amherst Cinema and co-owner of The Quarters in Hadley; and Sally Linowski, associate dean of students for off-campus student life and community education at UMass.
Attendees will then break into small groups to discuss ideas and consider next steps.
The University-Town of Amherst Collaborative is looking at similar concerns, and Maroulis hopes to see many UTAC members at the event.
The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the new co-working space AmherstWorks, 11 Amity St.
It is funded in part by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as part of its “Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking” program.