Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Making The North Common Uncommon

From above the North Common looks more like a forest
North Common is a square island of green bordered by concrete on all sides

A dozen citizens turned out last night for the public hearing concerning the North Common, which outgoing Amherst Historical Commission Chair Mike Hanke deemed "forgotten territory," but he also pointed out it's "the centerpiece of our town."

 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. 


Anonymous said...

Let's put in a high quality, good-looking playground for kids. Surround it with black fencing and nice plantings. Cambridge has lots of these beautiful pockets with playgrounds that are great places for families to hang out and also visit local businesses.

Anonymous said...

Your drone shows that the tree canopy is in good shape - why is the 125+year-old tree, e.g., considered to be unwell?

Anonymous said...

Yeah LK why aren't you up at arms about taking these things down? When the UNitarian church was gonna hose a couple trees you blew a freakin gasket.

Larry Kelley said...

Dealing with Cowardly Anon Nitwits like you has turned me into a hypocrite.

OR, I believe there's a BIG difference between taking down a HEALTHY historic tree vs taking down one not so much.

Anonymous said...

I think there should be a tree planted in memory of the millions of people murdered as a direct result of the so-called "peace" movement -- as well as the brave Americans who lost their lives attempting to prevent that from happening.

Or a vintage howitzer planted on the common.

Anonymous said...

I personally have many fond memories of that patch. I don't think it needs much more than some maintenance. Aerate the soil, seed, clean up the raised bed edges, get a better electrical box with a lock. Then go get a slice at Antonios and move on with life.

That being said, the woodsy nature could be attracting bear and moose.

The guy who suggested playground should have received the sarcastic font.

Anonymous said...

Brick pavers for the areas that are currently bare dirt, as that is where people want to walk. New railroad ties. Prune the trees. Add lighting. Done.

Anonymous said...

I hope the howitzer will be in working order when neede to defend your right to be sarcastc. Lol. And let's not forget that sarcasm is disguised anger.

Anonymous said...

Joshua Chamberlin, of Little Round Top fame, subsequently became Governor of the State of Maine. I can't remember the issue, nor what led to this, but the Governor's Mansion is across the street from the State Legislature. Chamberlin proceeded to put cannons (actual Civil War ones that he'd commanded during the war) on his front lawn and pointed them at the legislature.

They took the hint....