Monday, February 2, 2015

Another Prospective on the Shops Expansion

This Letter-to-the-Editor was submitted to the Longmeadow Buzz blog by Lindsay Coughlin Gill.

I hesitate to write this. I'm a newcomer to town, after all.  My husband, son, and I just moved to Longmeadow in December.

Heck, I'm no newcomer.  I grew up in this town. And I am not happy.

If this was about me, I would probably stay quiet as I am not one to speak up.  But here comes mama bear, watching out for her cubs.  I am writing this for my son.

We moved to Longmeadow this past December.  We knew the school system, we knew the quiet streets, we knew the sidewalks.  It was a no-brainer that we wanted our son to grow up here.

But since December, we have already talked about moving on multiple occasions.

Before the seasoned Longmeadow residents start talking about being progressive and getting a whopping additional $82,000, let's talk about how to sustain a beautiful town.  In order to sustain a beautiful town, you need to make it a place where newcomers want to come.  Where they want to raise children.  This is not the only family friendly town around.  There's Wilbraham, there's Granby, there are plenty in Connecticut.

I am new to the part of town past the shops. I didn't realize how the shops can allow people to congregate, but probably more so, how it can separate the sides of town.  I avoid the area!  I want my son to avoid the area!  Now we're voting to make this a larger commercial area.

How could one suggest this will not increase traffic?  If any of the offices or shops are remotely successful, they will obviously add more cars, more traffic.  Granted, the novelty of a few new stores will wear off.  But we are voting on the unknown.  Even if it starts as a JCrew, who knows what it could be in the future. 

When I went to college, my peers actually knew of Longmeadow as the legendary town where parents actually encouraged a mass sleepover after prom, on a field.  Surrounding towns know Longmeadow for the school system.  Many know us for the successful athletes, Hollywood stars, and prestigious doctors and lawyers.  Now we're fighting to add a "JCrew" and drive-thru CVS to the list?  The successful people that went through the Longmeadow school system came here for the quiet residential town.

At this point, we have to cross five busy crosswalks to get to Blueberry.  I've only seen a crossing guard at one of these. These are not regular cross walks...these are high traffic areas. 

I think "progressive" is getting prescriptions sent right to your doorstep as many people do already. "Progressive" is walking and biking around town to save gas and our environment, not adding places to buy homogenous clothes at JCrew. Just like any new store or restaurant, the novelty will fade and we will be left with destroyed land and a traffic hub with accidents waiting to happen. Even the best laid traffic plans don't work. Have you ever been to a shopping center with good traffic flow? Never.  And this is all assuming the area is not sold to another developer once it is approved for commercial zoning.

A drive thru CVS may sound wonderful in theory. But this services one car at a time. We had one in my previous town and I used it once. As a brand new mom with an infant, I used it once.  It's not that exciting.  Perhaps we can focus more on something similar to Meals on Wheels in which volunteers could deliver necessary items and medications to the elderly of the town.  I did Meals on Wheels, I would do Medication on Wheels.

Vote NO.  If you're apathetic because this is so far from your home, vote no for me. Vote NO for your children's friends who won't be able to bike to your house through this intersection.  Vote NO for my grandparents whose dream to move to this beautiful town was fulfilled six years ago.  Whose dream to have my son walk to their house that will be compromised by the town's desire to have new shops.  Just like moving to this town was a no-brainer, it will be a no-brainer to move out.  We knew about the high taxes coming into this town.  We accepted them in anticipation of a safe and quiet area for our son.  Our house will certainly be appraised lower...hence lower taxes.  It simply doesn't make sense.

Vote NO. If you have kids, vote no for their safety. If you don't have kids, vote no for my kids! And vote no so that new families continue to want to move here. Ten new families make up for the whopping 82k in anticipated taxes everyone can't wait to get. Don't be so short sighted!

I love this town. I grew up in this town. I want to stay in this town, vote NO on Tuesday.

Lindsay Coughlin Gill


Unknown said...

Very nicely stated. I feel the same way and will also vote "no."

Unknown said...

Nice perspective. It would be nice if the Selectmen did their job and understood they are responsible for making sure town by-laws are followed. In the past the selectmen sued the zoning board forcing them to do their job. This time the selectmen should be asked why they have not overseen enforcement of the parking that is allowed. Why are private security guards allowed to chase people from a public use lot? Max Burger said so? Why was the first vote taken and the issue of public use not even brought up despite the town attorney knowing the issue was there?

Unknown said...

I don't know you, but please stay in town. My husband and I both grew up here, and we hate seeing what our town has become. We can only wish the vote were not on such a cold night.