Letter: Citizens’ Request For Brief Downtown Construction Moratorium Is Reasonable And Should Be Honored By Town Council


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The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council on June 28, 2021

As you know, many in town have expressed concern at what they perceive to be a rush to judgment on new construction.  They fear that once more of these new buildings are built, the town will be changed forever.  They have requested a relatively short time-out to hear these concerns and consider appropriate changes.  It seems appropriate that our elected representatives should listen to these reasonable views.  Please do and support the requested moratorium.

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts. He graduated from Columbia College in 1977 and earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1986. His most recent book, The Case for Medicare for All, appeared in March 2020 with Polity Press. Follow him on twitter at @gfriedma

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3 thoughts on “Letter: Citizens’ Request For Brief Downtown Construction Moratorium Is Reasonable And Should Be Honored By Town Council

  1. I’m sorry to say that we cannot keep this town from changing, but the good news is that we can change it in a way that will leave something better for the children and their children. Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, James Baldwin, and even residents who moved here in the 70s-00s didn’t have to put up with multiple major heat waves before the end of the month of June. And that’s what it’s like here in Amherst, free from massive forest fires and empty reservoirs out west and in tropical regions. So what we have here is a geographical area that will fare relatively well climate-wise in the next few decades, in a country and world that will see many people unable to continue surviving where they are. We may even see people from elsewhere in New England and from New York coming here in greater numbers as coastal communities become riskier and riskier places to live.

    And as it stands now, while the climate migrants are just a trickle, the housing stock in this area is outdated, overpriced, and insufficient to meet the needs of the people who live and study here. Amherst is a small city that tells itself it is a small town when it goes to bed at night. Densely-built communities make it easier to do things on foot and bike, and to facilitate public transportation – all of which will provide roofs for people’s heads and reduced carbon emissions for our children. For the next generation of the people who live here, and for the people who will need to move here when the climate makes their home flooded or unbearably hot, we must build dense housing. Moreover, we’ll need to take climate events that were previously very unlikely in this area (tornadoes, high-category hurricanes, etc.) into account, as the stately historical homes around here could be reduced to timbers like any other if and when we get our own Hurricane Sandy.

    I’m actually for this moratorium idea, since I think building further investment properties is a mistake. I think we ought to build housing through public rather than private investment, since public investment it would be far easier to ensure that the development is focused exclusively on the public interest rather than someone in another state’s investment portfolio.

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