Letter to Gazette: “Wants a mayor who’ll support green space in town”

We appreciate this letter in today’s Gazette from Eileen Hirsch. Here is an excerpt:

Wants a mayor who’ll support green space in town

My first encounter with Mayor Higgins was 15 years ago when she was a city councilor at large and our South Street neighborhood was battling with a developer who wanted to convert green space behind our homes into condominiums. It was an area that had no frontage and was utilized for gardens, neighborhood gatherings and recreation. Special zoning ordinances for high-density areas were utilized to circumvent common sense.

Michael Bardsley, our city councilor, spoke at Planning Board meetings advocating for the neighborhood. Mayor Mary Ford supported the neighbors. Claire Higgins, a councilor at-large, supported the project. She appeared to have no appreciation for this beautiful area and saw it as an opportunity to pack in more housing. After a legal battle, most of this beautiful area was retained.

As I have watched the mayor over the past 10 years, I have seen this same lack of appreciation for in-town green space repeated over and over…

See also:

Video: Planning Board Reviews the Latest Kohl Condo Proposal on 5/14/09
0:49:22-0:55:20… City Councilor At-Large Michael Bardsley. The density of the proposal and its proximity to wetlands are troubling… A condo association with a lot of responsibilities will have higher fees. The contemplated requirements for this development may not be realistic. This proposal is not in character with the neighborhood.

Video: Conservation Commission Reviews Latest Kohl Condo Proposal on 5/14/09
Both of Northampton’s At-Large City Councilors, Jim Dostal and Michael Bardsley, attended the Kohl hearing as members of the audience, as did a candidate for that position, Jesse Adams. Councilor Bardsley spoke in opposition to the condo proposal during 1:07:00-1:09:30.

North Street Gets Support from South Street: A Letter from Virginia Schulman
Statement from Virginia Schulman, living at 358 South Street, Northampton, since 1983

We had a lovely small wooded area on one corner of the intersection of South Street with New South and Old South streets. The owner of those woods sought to protect them in her will. However, due to quick work by the Historical Commission, a local court, and a developer, we no longer have any wooded area–instead, an extensively rehabilitated architecturally important cottage.

Thanks, but we who live here preferred the woods! When using SmartGrowth techniques and practicing “infill”, kindly moderate your enthusiasm for infill once it is clear that EVERYTHING can be filled in and that having NOTHING but the “built environment” is, like war, not healthy for human beings…

Photo Essay: Nature Summers at Millyard Brook
The woods and wetlands around Millyard Brook and Woodmont Road may not be pristine habitats, but they are an oasis for animals in downtown Northampton, and beloved by the people who live there. Will these sights be infilled away?

Video: First public “in-process” presentation and feedback session for Design Northampton Week
Fran Volkmann, Vice Chair, Community Preservation Committee
We would like to concentrate development closer in, we like the idea of walkability, bikeability, neighborhood center… The thing that happens to us, however, is that we buy that and then somebody builds some horrible thing…and then they say to you, “This is infill, you know. It’s good, it’s infill.” …You know if you walk in European cities, you very often find little tiny pocket parks, and little bits of green spaces, mixed in with beautiful buildings… How do we…learn to…value…respect for people at the same time that we try to fill in our park spaces?

Northampton Redoubt: Urban Ecology, Planting Trees, and the Long-Term View
If we remove all of our in-town forested areas and wetlands they will likely be gone forever or at least a very long time. We would do well for posterity to err on the side of caution.