Editor’s note: This letter from Molly Turner is a response to Darcy Dumont’s recent columns (look here and here) in which she shared a vision for Amherst in the year 2030 and encouraged Amherst residents to do the same.
An accessible greenway graces the town of Amherst in 2030. Enhancing and expanding our green spaces, Amherst’s Emerald Bracelet is a source of renewal, sustainability and connectivity. It renews the air we breathe, restores our soul, and, with a robust stewardship of our tree canopy, helps sequester our reduced emissions.
The Greenway spreads easterly from Emily Dickinson’s domain at Triangle Street through Sweetser Park with its fountain to the restored Kinsey Memorial Garden at the Library and the 19th Century Garden at the Historical Society with its lush greensward. The Greenway turns north through the historic neighborhood of North Prospect Street where the street is closed to through traffic and parking is limited to neighbors. Residents may charge their electric cars and/or park them in the large vehicle area that is community owned and enhanced with fruit and nut trees. The street is lined with flower and food gardens and leads to Kendrick Park and on to the University Campus.
UMASS has completed its massive building program and has restored and expanded the Waugh arboretum. The greenway continues north through UMASS properties of agricultural fields and wooded trails to North Amherst’s restored village center. The North Amherst Library is the anchor for the Greenway Library Triangle with a small parking area and an electric charging station. The Library has kept a small footprint but by increasing accessibility has reduced congestion at the main library in the center of town. The Triangle Park leads to the Mill River Walkway, Mill River playground and on to Puffers Pond. At a side path at Puffers Pond we routinely spot Pileated Woodpeckers and Water Thrushes.
South from the town center, the greenway extends from Amherst College along tree-enhanced passageways through the sustainable Hitchcock Center to Hampshire College and Groff Park and continues to the Mt. Holyoke Range State Park.
The idea of the Greenway was developed over the years by the community by advocating for parks and walkways with letters, public meetings, committee work and official community planning exercises. The key words were walkability, sustainability, complete streets, fewer motorized vehicles. When Amherst began to realize that a small community could advocate to remedy the effects of global emissions it passed the Zero Net building codes. The Greenway did much to sequester carbon. More trees and fewer buildings; more planting and less construction.Town owned orchards and food gardens are part of the Greenway and help feed the town’s population with safe and sustainable produce. The Greenway is our connection to a sustainable world and a healthy planet.
Thank you, Darcy Dumont for presenting your vision of sustainable Amherst 2030 and requesting other such visions.