Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Phil Crafts: Questions abound over ‘Retreat’ project

To the editor:

Much misery has been expressed in these pages over the proposed “Retreat” development in Cushman. Not a single letter has defended it as a good idea and urged full speed ahead; a few have tepidly endorsed acceptance of change or the inevitability of “progress,” a strange word to use in regards to the completely unnecessary placement of housing in an iconic piece of woodland and at the expense of an historic community in town.

These few letters also suggest the NIMBY syndrome at play on the part of opponents. A short drive through adjacent neighborhoods puts the lie to that argument: red-and-white “Stop the Retreat” signs abound all over town and in other towns as well. Leverett is one such town and a recent event there perhaps adds some perspective and a whisper of hope to the current heart-wrenching problem.

The Jones-Cowls corporation, in negotiation with the Town of Leverett, the Kestrel Trust, and the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust, hammered out a mutually agreeable conservation restriction on the huge Brushy Mountain wilderness in the center of that town. That agreement is a forward-looking, conservationist, community-spirited undertaking that in essence preserves the undeveloped natural splendor of the place in perpetuity. It was nothing Jones-Cowls Incorporated had to do, but which in their traditional value of forest stewardship decided was the right thing to do.

The preservation of historic Cushman offers another opportunity to do the right thing. The question to be answered and acted upon is, simply put, which comes first: community or profit? Which is to be more valued: the preservation of wilderness as the context that surrounds an historic community, or the virtually unlimited expansion of housing and roads for quick (and sizable) gain with no regard for the natural context of time and space? What finally is to be the legacy of the venerable Jones-Cowls presence? Cushman Village or Cushman Pillage?

Phil Crafts

Leverett

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