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Jody Shapiro: Vision lacking in use for Eastman Woods

To the editor:

The recent article about the study on Amherst’s housing needs cites the failure to build Veridian Village at Hampshire College as an indicator that perhaps Amherst doesn’t actually need 55+ housing. As I recall, the cost for the proposed Veridian Village units was in excess of $500,000 per unit. That’s a far higher price-tag than the average single-family home in Amherst — and that was five years ago, right on the brink of the economic crash.

For those two good reasons alone, of course it wasn’t built! Amherst would surely benefit from more housing for tax-paying, shopping, dining-out, volunteering-in-the-community grown-ups, but I daresay the half-million dollar figure on a Veridian address showed a certain lack of basis in reality. Show us a plan for a green, 55+ cluster development where modestly-sized unit prices start south of $300K and I suspect you’d see more enthusiasm. We don’t need to downsize to a condo that costs more than the full-sized houses where we raised our kids.

In that spirit, I offer this note to our neighbor Cinda Jones, with all respect: if you had proposed to sell Eastman Woods to a locally-owned, green, 55+ cluster housing developer of good repute, or to a locally-owned, respected, non-profit retirement community entity like Loomis or Lathrop, I bet there wouldn’t be all those red and white “Stop the Retreat” signs all over town. Quite the contrary: sign me up! There’s true community spirit and fair dollar value in that kind of vision, and I dearly wish that was on the table instead of the dorms of the proposed Retreat. All I can say is, may the Retreat go the way of Veridian Village.

Jody Shapiro


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