From above the North Common looks more like a forest
North Common is a square island of green bordered by concrete on all sides
Only 1 downtown business person attended
Discussion centered around making the area "more inviting," like Sweetser Park which is wide open, sunny and has the beautiful Cook Fountain as a centerpiece.
Sweetser Park was laid out by Amherst Town Common designer Frederick Law Olmsted and his son did the final design implementation
North Common does have a historic 1904 water fountain donated by Young Women's Temperance Union, but it is broken
The Public Shade Tree Committee attended and lamented the condition of many of the trees due to soil erosion and heavy foot traffic in and around exposed roots.
The most ailing maple will need to have lights removed before it can be taken down safely
Current Merry Maple (rt) is healthy
At least three trees -- including the oldest and largest in the center of the North Common are ailing and could come down in the near future, whether the town does renovations to the North Common or not.
Biggest tree on the North Common (125+ years old) is not doing well
Railroad ties used to box in trees are rotting
At least two other trees were planted as "living memorials", one -- a Tulip tree -- for former Town Manager Allen Torrey and the other a Norway Maple planted by the Valley Peace Center in 1969 to remember "casualties of the Vietnam war."
Tulip tree planted for Amherst's first official Town Manager, Allen Torrey
Unlike trees, plaques will be easy to move
The town will be applying for a PARC grant within the next three weeks and should hear back by the Fall. Other than necessary tree removal the renovation of the North Common is dependent on the grant, which reimburses the town 70% of the cost.
Town was turned down three years ago for such a grant proposal of $500,000
Drainage problems near town center and antiquated electricity hook up
Anyone who runs their own business will agree, "You only get one chance to make a good first impression." The North Common is indeed the centerpiece of our town -- and has been for 140 years.
Grant or no grant, it's time for a sprucing up. Let's put a smile on the face of Amherst.