Amherst Club Luncheon Notes

February 22, 2011

President Vivienne Carey opened today’s meeting by asking members if there were guests among us.  Arthur Kinney introduced his guest, the Renaissance Center’s new Program Director, Alison Kiraly.  Jean Miller introduced her guest and prospective member, Signia Warner.


Michael Greenebaum forewarned members that he would be sending an email soon asking for note takers to sign up for Spring dates on which they will be Tuesday scribes.

Roger Webb predicted that, when all expenses are paid and tallied against receipts from Love Notes, the amount to be given to recipient agencies will be a little over $15,000.

Jim Scott announced that $10,320 was raised in Love Notes ticket sales, which Roger allowed was slightly down from approximately $11,000 raised in ticket sales last year.

Doris Holden let members know that the docent schedule at the Renaissance Center currently has two openings:  Mondays from 10 AM to Noon and Fridays 10 AM to Noon.  Vivienne told of many pleasures gained from filling such openings at the Center, where a docent signs on to occupy the main reading room for 2 hours a week to oversee that all who use the precious materials at the Center do so with kindness toward the materials.  Members interested in either opening are invited to contact Doris, today’s scribe, or Jeff at the Center (577-3600).

Vivienne referred to the recent email she sent to members regarding the possibility of Amherst Club’s holding a fashion show open to the public this Spring to benefit the Fisher Home Hospice in Amherst, with clothes modeled from its Hospice Shop.  Vivienne checked with the Amherst Woman’s Club president and determined that our event would not be in competition with that group’s Spring fashion luncheon.  Vivienne will find out if /when the Munson Library might be available for such an event, and she asked members to suggest other venues, as well.

Vivienne advocated opening communication among The Amherst Club, the Amherst Woman’s Club, Rotary of Amherst, the new Lion’s Club, and any other similarly focused local groups for information sharing and gathering ideas for potential joint projects.  She will initiate a discussion meeting of representatives of these groups over tea.

Iso Stein’s sketch of the activities and interests of Margot Atkinson was followed by Margot’s induction and welcome to membership in the Club by President Vivienne Carey.


Phyllis Lehrer introduced Cinda Jones, a ninth-generation descendant of the founder of the firm begun in Hadley in 1741 known as W. D. Cowls, Inc.  Cinda is the current manager of the firm’s timberlands, and her brother, Paul, manages Cowls Building Supply, a subsidiary of W. D. Cowls opened in 1980 “primarily to retail Cowls Sawmill products.”

Cinda’s presentation centered on planning for the future use of the Cowls’ acreage that is currently a large part of the area known as North Amherst Village Center, one of five areas settled within the boundaries of the Town of Amherst and one its most historic areas.  Although diverse businesses such as the Black Walnut Inn, Watroba’s food market, and The Harp restaurant and bar are located in North Amherst Village Center, Cinda called attention to the “dirty hands” businesses that comprise much of the Village Center’s land use, i.e., a car repair shop and Cowls’ historical farmlands and sawmill and present-day timberlands and retail store and farm house.

Business owners in North Amherst Village Center have formed a group that is looking into ways and means of expanding the Center’s tax base and its appeal as a destination site.  To that end, a rendition has been drawn that pictures a common surrounded by a residential community that is surrounded by commerce, much of it using existing structures, such as barns.  The overarching style would be an agrarian mill look, for example, with a barn serving as a community center and other buildings developed as condos attracting both young professionals and retirees. 

Presently, zoning in North Amherst Village Center is commercial, which allows for a business on the ground floor and any use on above floors.  Cinda hopes that rezoning will be on the ballot this November and approved for the Village Center, thereby allowing adaptive reuse of existing buildings and new multi-unit buildings to be completely residential.  The cornerstone of planning for the future of North Amherst Village Center incorporates an Applewood-type of residence on Montague Street, the profit from which could fund the building of condos.

Cinda envisions the Village Center as a largely residential community, with consideration for farmland preservation.  She spoke of combining these two functions by leasing condos together with riverfront parcels so that residents could farm their patches, thereby providing one way of continuing her family’s “tradition of farming and growing in the Valley.”  Cinda closed with an invitation for all to log onto North Amherst Village Improvement Society online, where one can sign up and receive notice of meetings and developments on this evocative project.

Now that Love Notes is over, Tina, who won today’s wine, can sip it leisurely.

Jean Miller won $10.

Your scribe, Jacquie Price