Johanna Neumann wrote a strong defense of downtown development in Amherst. However she dismisses in one paragraph the concerns of many of us about how that is now occurring and its impact.
Downtown Amherst and the other centers in north and south Amherst are appealing to developers because the growth of UMass has greatly increased the need for housing for students, faculty and other employees, and for those in businesses supported by its activities.
Amherst has and will change because of this; no one doubts this, no one opposes this. But anything and everything desired by a developer doesn’t have to be permitted. Scale, design and content are within the power of the town to influence and, if necessary, reject.
A five-story wall with a narrow walkway in front of it does not encourage the family friendly foot traffic envisioned in the master plan. Eliminating on-site parking encourages its location in existing public open spaces — paid for by the town. Amherst residents have consistently shown their support for maintaining the beauty of our town, respecting its history and making it more inclusive. These are our values; the new construction on the main streets of our town should not be a constant violation of them.