Letter to the Editor: Don’t Change Center Plan for Residents Like Me

To the editor:

I moved to Belmont two years ago when I was in my late 60s. I chose a location where I could easily walk or drive into town. Coming to town frequently, and staying for a while, is one of the things I plan to do to stay connected as I grow older.     

Thus far, spending time in town has meant either walking along the sidewalks or ducking into one of the stores. When I first walked around town, I was drawn to the green space in front of the bank.  However, I rarely saw anyone sitting there and quickly understood why. The green space beckoned, but I wasn’t inclined to cross a busy street to get to the small patch of green only to sit and watch cars whizzing by on all sides.  

That’s why I was delighted when I saw the original reconstruction plan for Belmont Center. The plan created a green space that was actually usable. I thought it would be a wonderful spot for people of all ages to gather, and a perfect focal point for special town events. I envisioned taking my young grandsons to get ice-cream cones and, instead of hanging out on the crammed sidewalk in front of the store, walking over to the green to enjoy them; or buying a sandwich and meeting a friend for lunch on the green; or just sitting there reading a book. I pictured special occasions with everyone in town, from the youngest child to the oldest elder, gathered on the green enjoying the newly created space. 

I feel compelled to write this – my first ever letter to an editor – because I’ve read that the reconstruction plan as modified by the selectmen, with its cut-through and parallel parking spaces in front of the bank, was adopted in deference to the elderly. Although I appreciate the concern expressed for seniors, I question whether the cut-through plan is what the majority of the elderly in town would actually choose. I, for one, am deeply disappointed that a safe and inviting gathering place has been abandoned in favor of a few parking spaces of questionable convenience relative to the original plan. Moreover, even if I thought those spaces would serve the purpose intended, I would not want the entire town to lose its carefully planned green to make them available to me.   

Joanne Birge

Common Street 

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