To the Editor:
I grew up on School Street and graduated from the Manchester public schools before moving to Essex fifty years ago. As an owner of a share of my grandmother’s woodlot, which directly abuts the proposed Shingle Hill development area, I need to voice my thoughts.
As you know, the Manchester Essex Conservation Trust (MECT) has spent more than fifty years working to protect open space for our water quality, and the plants and animals living on the conservation area off upper School Street. Thanks to MECT’s efforts and vision, people have also greatly benefited from the beauty and peace this natural area provides. Other than a seasonal farm stand on upper School Street, this area remains unspoiled. Why destroy this natural area with an inappropriately located 40B Development – small or large project?
If the Town of Manchester must provide affordable housing to abide by Massachusetts laws, why doesn’t the Town build on (or allow a developer to build on) a level site within its community? How many units must the Town provide?
After driving into the Town’s DPW barn area off Pleasant Street, it made common sense to me that this could be an excellent location for several affordable residential units. The people living here would be part of the community instead of living at its far-removed perimeter, and school-age children could walk to the middle/high school; and the new residents could join the many current Manchester people who enjoy walking downtown. Perhaps the Town can find a more suitable site for the DPW (Is there another piece of town-owned land not amidst a residential area?).
The Plains off Old Essex Road, or Newport Park off Pine Street, might be areas that could be expanded to include affordable housing, and not just for senior residents. Perhaps more affordable housing
doesn’t need to be one huge development, but rather a couple of sites with housing that fits into the community and doesn’t overwhelm what’s already there? If Manchester needs to increase its tax base, and wants to attract more businesses to town, why couldn’t Atwater Avenue, which is already a commercial area, be further developed? How do the existing businesses in downtown Manchester feel about developments that will divert attention, customers, and income away from the center of town?
The 40B development proposed for Shingle Hill will make a huge visual impact on upper School Street for every passerby. The land is steep and rocky. Blasting will be needed. The abutting landscape will be adversely impacted in many ways. The pristine Hurley woodlot, and other parcels abutting the proposed development land, as well as the MECT open space, will never be the same.
The developer is out to make money! The land cannot speak for itself; it needs people to do that. The Town should not feel forced to accept this large, inappropriate housing development just because Manchester-by-the-Sea needs to provide more affordable housing units. Please continue to think this through and look carefully at all possible locations for new affordable housing. This 40B project proposed for Shingle Hill is not the answer.
Karin M. (Hurley) Gertsch