Sunday, July 21, 2013

Repaving Paradise

Marsh House lawn 81 Lessey Street. 

Amherst College, the town's largest property owner and #1 taxpayer, is on a building boom, with current projects underway in the downtown -- the  Fiber Art Building rehab -- and the massive overhaul at Pratt Field.

 Fiber Arts Building heart of downtown

After the $19 million setback with the Science Center it must be nice to have a construction project go quickly and easily.

Like this sidewalk renovation that bisects a lush green lawn that flows down a steep hill, practically all the way to  Sweetser Park.

According to Facilities Director Jim Brassord:  "The sidewalk was in serious disrepair so we are replacing it.  In doing so, we'll make it a bit wider, perhaps a foot, to ensure that it is consistent with the width of our standard sized sidewalk plow."

Marsh House built 1835

The Marsh House at the top of the hill is plenty historic in its own right.  Built in 1835 for Luke Sweetser (of Sweetser Park fame) the house acted as a fraternity for Amherst College students.  Its most famous pledge was none other than Calvin Coolidge, who graduated cum laude before going on to become our 30th President.

The property is bounded to the south by the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, built for Austin Dickinson, Miss Emily's brother.  Both also owned by Amherst College; and all of these properties are pretty much located dead center in the new Dickinson Local Historic District.

Since driveways, terraces and sidewalks are excluded as long as "any such structure is substantially at grade level," Amherst College did not have to seek a "Certificate of Appropriateness" from the DLHD committee.

The entire project was completed within a week, despite the tropical temperatures.  Ah, if only all of them went so well.  Now that would be historic!


Walter Graff said...

Could have made perhaps a better looking walkway, no? Asphalt, so industrial - part of the problem with Amherst College - a miss-mosh of buildings with no theme nor core charm.

Anonymous said...

Asphalt is black and absorbs the winter sun, hence is less likely to have ice problems than white concrete -- and it really does make a difference.

I see that Amherst has gotten the rainstorms that other parts of the state have missed -- grass doesn't look quite so green elsewhere...

Walter Graff said...

Ah good point about asphalt.

Anonymous said...

"a miss-mosh of buildings with no theme nor core charm."

Good point. That must be why no one wants to go there.

Anonymous said...

gosh, walter, you need to start a regimen of prozac.

Anonymous said...

larry, you should do a story on those two yellow-ish houses alongside emily's. the amherst womens club, i believe. they look identical. must be some history worth mining there. maybe it would inspire the owners to repaint them!

Anonymous said...

Farm Ride A bike ride with free beer for the riders throughout the three days. Just what we need on the country roads of Western, MA

Larry Kelley said...

You sure it's free?

In Amherst that would violate anti Happy Hour ordinances.

Anonymous said...

The College has some credibility problems with its alums about how it spends money.

Given the money it has blown on plans that go nowhere, its approach to spending for the community in the Town of Amherst needs a new look.

Larry Kelley said...

Well, their reliance on AFD has not gone down all that much so they are getting plenty of bang for their $90,000 annual donation to the town.

Anonymous said...

$90K for the town.

Should we be impressed by this?

I don't know what the standard would be, other than other small colleges in New England.

Larry Kelley said...

Beats the Hell out of what Hampshire College gives us: Zero, zip, nada.

Amherst College also pays the town $500,000 per year in property taxes for all the houses they own, plus the Lord Jeff Inn and their Golf Course (which, unlike Cherry Hill, actually makes money).