Patty O’Donnell: Backs solar project in Amherst Woods area
To the editor:
I want to make it clear to the broader community that the opinions expressed in a May 24 letter do not reflect the attitudes of all the residents of Amherst Woods. I live in Amherst Woods, and am embarrassed to admit it!
To attempt to piggy-back on the proposed Cushman student housing development — referred to as The Retreat — to gain support for resistance to the installation of solar panels on an old landfill appears opportunistic and disingenuous.
These are vastly different issues. The Retreat development proposal could clearly have a deleterious impact — both culturally and environmentally — on a historic village center in our town (Cushman), and addresses the ongoing discussion between the town of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts regarding concentrated off-campus student housing. This is a local issue.
The proposed solar facility is representative of a much broader issue, with global implications. We all need to participate in efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, including the installation of regional, small-scale renewable energy projects. While a solar array may be considered an eyesore to some neighbors, attempts to resurrect concerns of potential disruptive repercussions is, in my opinion, an obvious case of NIMBY.
I have enjoyed exploring the open space provided by the old landfill for years. My children spent many winters sledding down the western slope. I’ve walked and gone cross-country skiing there with my dog. I will continue to do so when the solar arrays are installed, and feel proud that my neighborhood is demonstrating on a local level what can and must be done to ameliorate the impact of human activity on climate change.
So when considering “the Amherst Woods project in light of its greater impact and environmental concerns,” perhaps we should change the lens through which we evaluate this proposal.
Rather than resisting development because of parochial concerns, we should see this as an opportunity to model sustainable energy projects, and continue to be a beacon of progress and innovation.