Carol Betsch: Retreat development strikingly inappropriate
To the editor:
Given the proliferation of Stop the Retreat signs throughout Amherst, along the roads leading into town (Rocky Hill, Pelham, South East Street), and in South Amherst, it seems that the opposition to the development of a huge student housing complex in Cushman is not rooted in base NIMBYism. Rather, the ever-increasing “nuisance” — at times riotous — behavior where large concentrations of UMass undergraduates reside (Hobart Lane, Meadow Street) might be a strong motivator of town (and out of town) residents to prevent the construction of such a large subdivision anywhere off campus.
But the siting of 140 houses, community buildings, paved streets with lighting and parking lots for 700 cars on woodland abutting a tiny historic village center is strikingly inappropriate. You don’t have to live on Henry Street to realize that the negative impacts on the town’s environment and social fabric would be multidimensional and severe.
A UMass shuttle bus carrying students to campus and back will do nothing to mitigate the traffic generated by 700 people who get in their cars and drive everywhere else they need or want to go. (Buses running regularly through Cushman Village present their own problem.)
Around 700 adolescents living and partying where there had been trees, wetlands, quiet, darkness at night, and wildlife habitat are going to affect a lot more than the local salamanders. NIMBY, perhaps, after all, if the town beyond the campus is all our backyard.