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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rebecca Loveland '88

[in support of Helen Haddad's ('63) letter to the Smith College Planning Committee]

May 15, 2006

Dear Helen,

I agree with your points entirely, and I especially liked your critique of Smith's style of development in general. Its approach is wrong in a number of areas, not just in the expansion for academic buildings.

For example, I was horrified at the (lack of) public process and the result of Smith's building of the parking garage on West Street. This not only displaced people and naturally occurring affordable housing, but also paved an historic garden and put a monstrous modern eyesore at
the edge of an historic site (the H.H. Richardson-designed ForbesLibrary).

I have been similarly disgusted, over the past fifteen years, at the way Smith has destroyed its inherited national treasure - a core landscape and built environment designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The area centered around the new student center is just the most blatantly ruined area - from intimate density to post-modern flat - but sadly, not the only one. This squandering of Smith's resources is but the visible cue of a development policy gone wrong. The hidden story is even more difficult for me to handle. I have watched for fifteen years as my alma mater engages in strategic, privileged dealmaking to buy affordable housing at its edge. In the process it outcompetes middle and lower-class homebuyers, potential taxpayers, in the surrounding neighborhoods. I cut my Smith alumnae giving in the late 1990's due to this behavior. Keep in mind that I, being a proud alumna at graduation, had scrimped and saved to pay for a lifetime alumna membership. Now - as Smith uses arrogance and unlimited power to bulldoze this 'property' - these neighborhoods - down, I have evolved into an angry and disgusted antagonist to the college and all it currently stands for. I'd rather support my public university, with its fine engineering program for women and men, and forego support for this style of women's college development. I have become a bitter daughter.

Thank you for your efforts.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Loveland
Masters of Regional Planning, 1998, Department of Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Massachusetts
Smith College Class of 1988
Northampton, MA

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