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Don Lesser: How about a swap of ‘Retreat’ and solar facility?

To the editor:

Reading the letter from the residents of Amherst Woods who are opposing the construction of a solar power facility on the old dump, I was struck by their closing paragraph: “Why is it that those who live elsewhere in Amherst condemn efforts to preserve any individual neighborhood as “NIMBY,” only to protest when their own area is threatened?” My question exactly.

While I sympathize with their potential loss of open space and the dump cap issue, I’d like to point out that my backyard is Townehouse Apartments. In the 30 years I have lived here, parties have grown into biweekly events of hundreds of mostly heavily inebriated partygoers. Will a solar array disturb their sleep two or three nights a week, leave broken beer bottles on their sidewalks, throw a rock into their car’s rear window, leave blood in the snow outside their house due to a 2 a.m. fistfight or urinate on their car? Will it prevent them from selling their houses to anyone but a developer?

The real issue confronting Amherst is the gradual erosion in the quality of life for the residents of this town. I fully acknowledge that students are the main industry in Amherst. I commend the town and the university, and especially the police department, who have taken increasingly stronger action to curb anti-social behavior by some students. I understand that as the university grows, it needs to house its students.

The “Retreat” is not a NIMBY situation. It creates an isolated community, with increased car, pedestrian and bus traffic. It provides an excellent venue for large parties.

I would rather see the university housing more students on-campus and providing clear guidelines to off-campus students, including consequences for anti-social behavior. I would like to see Amherst do more to regulate absentee landlords and enforce occupancy limits on apartments. I would like to feel that Lincoln Avenue and North Amherst have not been zoned “student ghetto” to preserve the rest of the town.

How about a swap? Put the solar facility in Cushman and the “Retreat” on the old dump?

Don Lesser


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