Town hires consultants for two studies

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Two more pieces of Amherst's strategic priorities are set to move forward after the town awarded contracts to consultants to study downtown revitalization and creating an arts, culture and heritage strategy.

Darmouth-based Ekistics Planning and Design was awarded the contract for the completion of the Centre First-Downtown Amherst Action Strategy for its quoted prices of $91,965 while DmA was given the contract, valued at $49,991, for the completion of the Arts Culture and Heritage Strategy.

Both contracts were awarded during a special meeting of Amherst town council on Monday.

The Ekistics bid beat out three other proposals including The Terrain Group ($97,694), Michael von Hausen ($99,998) and The Planning Partnership ($80,156).

"Ekistics was clearly superior to the other proposals, specifically regarding their past experience in similar markets, urban design and project management," Coun. Dave March said.

ACOA, the province and the Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society are providing up to $80,000 in funding while the town has committed up to $20,000 for the study.

While the Ekistics bid was not the lowest, March said it was selected because of the company's track record and unlike the tendering process for road construction or other capital projects, the town is not required to hire the lowest bidder.

"You don't have to have the lowest bid because these are proposals for a strategy as opposed to paving a street," March said.

Marsh said planning staff analyzed each of the proposals and felt most comfortable with Ekistics and its track record of projects around the region as well as internationally.

The low bidder, he said, provided very little detail overall and did not comment on a number of project objectives.

Meanwhile, DmA Planning and Management Services beat out two other bids from St. Clements Group ($49,946) and Webb Management Services (US $38,000) to complete the arts and culture strategy.

Coun Dale Fawthrop said one of the bidders - Webb Management - only submitted based on the arts centre component of the strategy while the other two groups did not bid on that component. He said it's something the town can complete a feasibility study for later.

"DmA has an office in Wolfville and they've done a lot of work throughout the Maritimes," Fawthrop said. "We've had the pleasure of working with them before."

Fawthrop said the study will look at the arts and culture aspects of Amherst and what is needed to help that sector of the community take advantage of tourism and economic development opportunities.

"Once this study is completed, I see the arts and culture strategy going hand and hand with downtown redevelopment," he said. "Amherst is a tremendous cultural centre. We have many artists of all different styles be they theatre, rug hookers and painters."

Organizations: Centre First-Downtown Amherst Action Strategy, Amherst town council, The Terrain Group The Planning Partnership Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society DmA Planning and Management Services Clements Group Webb Management Services

Geographic location: AMHERST, US, Wolfville

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Recent comments

  • peter
    January 18, 2010 - 11:05

    The town had tried in the past to put up flowers to improve the appearance of the downtown. However when the bar crowd hits on the weekends, some have destroyed these arrangements, in fact it is not only the bar crowd but anyone who has nothing better to do. Now they just have to concentrate on pushing over the stop signs.

    Hard for the town fathers to have improvements made when all the work is destroyed. Police cannot be everywhere, especially when the bars get out.

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:59

    Amherst is not a big place. I am curious to know where the boundaries of downtown lie. Surely, there are improvements required throughout the entire municipality, but if we only focus on Victoria Street, for example, we are merely applying a band-aid and not a solution. It will be interesting to see what the consultants come up with, but I certainly hope we are shelling out 50K to have someone tell us to hang flower baskets here and there.

  • Guy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:47

    I understand why they want to revitalize the downtown area. Really wanting it to look good and alive beause its a historic part of Amherst. But like i;ve said again and again, I think its best off as office spaces, few restaurants etc.. not really commercial businesses. All the major stores here , walmart, superstore, CT, etc... recogonize their locations are where the shopping and retail outlets are going to be, so why fight that. Put the stores out by the highway, a minature commons if you will, and pitch the downtown as office space, would be used, clean, and if you look at the development of almost any city, thats how it is.

  • c.
    January 18, 2010 - 10:46

    I thought this may be a good place to say that when I was in Sackville NB Sunday, I thought, WOW, what pretty flowers everywhere in flower boxes and hanging arrangements. Sure made the town look really pretty. Why can't Amherst be like this in our downtown area? A little can go a long way. Hopefully next summer, eh? But we still have this summer let. Thanks.

  • Greg
    January 18, 2010 - 10:45

    Oops. I meant to say I certainly hope we are NOT shelling out 50K ... my bad!

  • David
    January 18, 2010 - 10:38

    It continues to amaze me that Amherst Town Council continues to focus its efforts and our tax dollars on improving the lot of business owners in the downtown core. These business owners decided to locate in this area and should receive no 'special' consideration from the taxpayers. 90% of Amherst's businesses are located outside of the downtown and have not had any money spent on their surroundings to improve business. It is time the town shares the wealth and stops focusing all its efforts downtown. Sure help keep the downtown looking good and do the same for the entire town. The 'special' treatment needs to end.

  • Al
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    This same old quandry existed for the past 30 years. The advent of the shopping mall has changed the landscape of all towns and outside of a few flowerboxes will not invent itself.

    Town council just waisted more of our tax money. By incuring more debt they just admitted that they lack any vision themselves.

  • Moriarty
    January 18, 2010 - 10:31

    Why not hire MainStreet? They've done a great job revitalizing downtowns all over N. America. If you're going to do it, do it right.