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Peggy Ruth Cole: ‘Retreat’ proposal smacks of how Mexico operates

To the editor:

I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a designated national landmark, part of the year. San Miguel is to Mexican history what Philadelphia is to the United States, an historic center. The streets are cobblestone; there is one traffic light. Weekends and holidays the streets become impassible.

They are not designed for SUVs and heavy motor traffic. Additionally there is a looming water shortage. Here officials make deals with developers with little concern for public opinion or long-term impact. Consequently, despite traffic problems, potential water shortages, and limited resources, two large housing developments are under way. When in Mexico I shake my head; large projects with profits for developers and payoffs for public officials are common.

To my amazement, upon returning to Amherst, I discovered “The Retreat.” I live on Morgan Circle; access involves Pine and Henry Streets.

Most mornings and late afternoons there are lines of waiting cars, heading west towards 116 and UMass in the morning and east towards the Cushman area in the afternoon and early evening.

Roads are in serious disrepair; this area can barely accommodate current traffic.

Imagine the resulting impact of housing for 700 students and hundreds of additional cars. While not all students have vehicles, many do and so do their friends.

Additionally the natural beauty of the area, the tranquility of the walks on the trails, the already crowded Puffers Pond, all would be transformed into a student playground.

This profit—driven project (Landmark’s history of destroying neighborhoods with student housing complexes and then selling the property) is something I expect in Mexico, where greed-driven actions are the norm. How unfortunate to discover that what is happening in Mexico could happen right here. Que lastima!

Peggy Ruth Cole


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