Eileen Hirsch: Pleased at meeting to hear voices of reason about Hampshire Regional Y project
To the editor:
I recently went to a neighborhood meeting regarding a plan by the Hampshire Regional YMCA to take down the outdoor basketball courts and playground in order to create an expanded parking lot.
My three sons and their friends have spent endless hours on those courts, which has provided a venue not only for their informal summer basketball league, endless pickup games through high school and now a major site of connecting with old friends when they return from college.
Those courts have become part of the fabric of Northampton for the kids who have taken advantage of them. It is one of the few things that the Y offers to people in the community who are not members of the Y. It would be a sad irony to see a place of exercise and socialization replaced by blacktop and cars.
I attended the meeting expecting to find a neighborhood annoyed by loud teenagers and a Y board pretending to listen when in reality the decision had already been made. I was surprised to find that I was wrong on both accounts. Neighbor after neighbor spoke out in favor of the courts, even those without basketball players. They minimized the noise and appreciated what a wonderful gathering place it was for teenagers.
The director of the Y and the representing board member both seemed genuinely surprised by the response of the neighbors and interested in the alternative suggestions of the neighbors.
It was so wonderful to enter the meeting feeling pessimistic and to leave feeling so optimistic. It is great to be surprised in such a positive way.