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Amherst MA: A New Village Plan for Atkins Corner - page 2 / 13





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residents. The first phase of the project, involving realignment of Route 116, is now underway.

Atkins Corner. Atkins Corner is a cluster of parcels in the southwest corner of Amherst. To the south are the Holyoke Range, a group of low, picturesque mountains and, beyond, the towns of South Hadley and Holyoke. To the north is the town center of Amherst, a typical New England village with a green flanked on either side by the Greek-revival buildings of Amherst College. To the west are the towns of Hadley and, beyond, Northampton, the largest town in the area and home to Smith College. To the east are Belchertown and an area of small settlements and farmland between Amherst and the giant Quabbin Reservoir.

Atkins Corner is the common name for the intersection of Route 116 and Bay Road, where the Atkins Farm Market sits. In character, the area appears to be rural farmland, with apple orchards, fields, and stands of trees visible from all approaches. Much of the area contains wetlands, including streams and grass channels that enter the Sweet Alice Brook system. Most local residents think of the area as rural and undeveloped; in reality, it is developing quickly, in typical suburban fashion. Many different uses have sprung up, unrelated to one another and separated by pieces of open space. There are a few single dwellings on large parcels. Applewood, a retirement/assisted living complex to the west, is a monolithic, multi-unit building. Without serious planning by the citizens and the Town, this pattern of random development is likely to continue.

For years the intersection of Route 116 and Bay Road has been a source of concern to the residents and town officials of Amherst. Niels LaCour, Amherst’s senior town planner, considers the intersection the key to change in the area. Route 116 and Bay Road meet in a double-Y that has been the scene of many traffic accidents due to a combination of poor sightlines, high speeds, and traffic into and out of the Atkins Farm Market. Route 116 is the busier road, an important corridor from the south into the area that contains Hampshire College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts. Bay Road incurs heavier use as more people move into Belchertown to the southeast. Toward the west, Bay Road becomes access to Interstate 91 and the city of Northampton.


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