The small neighborhood: A place worth preservingBy:Carla J. Zambelli11/03/2006 The small neighborhood is like no other. As a resident - young, old, or in between- it gives you a truly authentic sense of community. This sense of community issomething you can't bottle, beg, steal, or sell. It exists as an integral elementin the fabric of smaller neighborhoods.As a young child in the 1960s, my parents made our first family home in theSociety Hill section of Philadelphia. In Society Hill, I not only discovered mylove for historic preservation, but my love for small neighborhoods andcommunities with particular individuality.Small neighborhoods are just so very real. When you grow up in a smallneighborhood, you develop a life-long affection for neighborhoods of a similarpattern that provide their residents with that singular sense of place: you knowyour neighbors, and they know you. Even children can appreciate this uniqueness,and as a child, I most certainly did.As an adult, I have found that I seek neighborhoods like those I experienced as achild. This is why I chose my current neighborhood in Haverford. It had all theelements I loved: walk-ability, community, and interesting and quirky old houses.No, the houses aren't the majestically elegant 18th century townhouses of SocietyHill, but they are special nonetheless.When I first heard of impending development in my neighborhood, I felt so verybleak. I knew that a change was coming that would irrevocably alter the face,fabric, and landscape of my neighborhood. And it has already changed ourneighborhood even though nothing has been demolished yet. Just the very thought ofthe hum of multiple air conditioning units on a flat roof when all we are used tohearing is birds, the laughter of small children, and the oddly comforting, yetfamiliar noises of the train is depressing.Development in moderation is something I can stomach. What I see happeningeverywhere today, I cannot. I see the past of this region being sacrificed dailyat the altar of new construction. And every developer is the same: they see theirprojects as their Pygmalians; testaments to their individual legacies. I supposethat is only natural, as they pour their hearts and souls into their projects,just as we pour our hearts and souls into our neighborhoods. It is just a shamethat they can't see their projects as we see them: alien invasions.We are facing such a development on North Buck Lane. The development isunfortunately a by-right development, so it will be built. I have been to multiplemeetings on this development, and I have come full circle to my original startingpoint: this project is simply wrong for such a small neighborhood. It's too big.This project is like a size 14 woman trying to squeeze into a size 8 dress. Theultimate shame of this situation is that up and down the Main Line, there are manyprojects like this playing out. And I have to ask, are these projects aboutenhancing neighborhoods or are they just about profit?