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Carolyn Cave, Peter Lacey & Rev. Alison Wohler: Unitarian committee reflects on Amherst building project

To the editor:

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst has been a leading voice for social justice and major contributor to the Amherst community since 1893. Our building, however, has not been updated since the 1920s. The shortage of space, lack of accessibility, and deteriorating condition are a growing drain on our vitality.

To address these issues, we’ve undertaken a renovation and expansion project that will begin this spring.

Our new facility will include a social hall, kitchen, classrooms and meeting space that will serve our congregation and the public. We also plan to restore a beautiful Tiffany window facing North Pleasant Street, making it more visible and accessible to the public.

Our project uses some but not all of the land we own. Where practical, we have tried to minimize disruption to our neighbors. Still, we understand that in the close quarters of downtown Amherst, the project will inevitably impact others.

Among our neighbors are several trees. Though planted on town property, their roots stretch deep into our lot. In fact, our original building plans seemed certain to damage the roots of a large pin oak tree.

Recently, the town has put forward a proposal that enables us to move forward with construction while giving the tree a chance for survival. The society enthusiastically supports this plan. We are grateful to Tree Warden Alan Snow for his creativity in crafting the plan.

The society is committed to being a good neighbor. To fulfill this role, we must remain strong and address critical building needs. We appreciate the community’s support.

As always, we welcome everyone to Sunday services and other events. We especially hope to see you when we reopen our facility in early 2014.

Carolyn Cave

Peter Lacey

Rev. Alison Wohler

The writers are members of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst’s Building Our Future Committee.

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