Jonathan Wright: Why Puffer’s Pond project disruptive

Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
To the editor:

A recent writer expressed alarm at the construction activities near Puffer’s Pond in Amherst, and as a principal of the construction company responsible for the work, I could not agree more with the nuisance of the noise and dust. It is disruptive and those of us who planned the project have worked to minimize the amount of rock removal. But it is dirty and noisy, and will soon be over.

We voluntarily reduced the work hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to reduce the intrusion. Tactical blasting would have reduced the length of time, but carries unacceptable risks. Even though the trucks say “Blastec,” the work is in fact the tedious process of drilling and splitting, which takes much longer. It is metal bits drilling hard rock. The stone is granite that does not split away like many other rock formations in our region.

The meticulous processes of the town of Amherst are not at fault. The ZBA, the Historical Commission and the Conservation Commission all scheduled and posted hearings for this work. They, and their staff, reviewed the work in great detail. The writer referred to a hearing on a snowy night, which was, actually, cancelled, reposted and rescheduled. All the hearings were on days when the weather was what it is in New England in the winter. It’s been a dreadful winter for anyone working outside, and for nearly everyone else. Had weather delays in the permitting process not occurred, this rock removal would a have happened in early March. We all would have wished it so.

This work, for a younger couple with a deep love for the place, has nothing to do with the proposals for the Retreat. It does not reflect on inadequate town processes. The town oversight in Amherst is the most detailed and meticulous in the region. It is simply the predicament of the work, which is regrettable and unavoidable. It disrupts life when we can finally have a few minutes outside.

The new owners have eagerly agreed to a number of maintenance and improvement measures for areas near Puffer’s Pond, which are cataloged in the Conservation Commission order of conditions. The house itself will receive its 100-year refit, maintaining the beauty of the place, the house, the historic charm and setting the stage for another century of beauty and peacefulness at the edge of the pond.

Jonathan Wright