Thursday April 18, 2013

As a lifelong resident and retired businessman in the Pittsfield/Dalton area, I am always interested and concerned when I hear or read of buildings being torn down or erected. For example, I was saddened when the beautiful old railroad station at the bottom of West Street was demolished; it should have been preserved.

Conversely, I was pleased when the Berkshire Life Insurance Building on South St. was built, as well as the Pittsfield High School; they are both pleasing to the eye.

Now, however, I am perplexed by two recent articles in The Berkshire Eagle announcing the plans to build not one, but two new hotels. On April 3, developer Joe Toole heralded the "Marriott Courtyard" project to be built on Dan Fox Drive, a short distance from the Stop & Shop supermarket. The site is about 12.5 acres with less than three acres devoted to the hotel structure, the rest to be environmentally restricted; typical of Mr. Toole’s track record with other properties he has.

Just four days later, another Eagle article came out that Vijay Mahida hopes to build yet another hotel, a Hilton Garden, on South Street abutting Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.

My curious nature kicked in when I read the second article. Why would anyone want to build a Hilton hotel with a narrow driveway abutting the popular Guido’s market? The congestion and traffic problems, I should think, would be impractical and dangerous for all the customers and employees of the numerous establishments on both sides of the street.


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Why did the Hilton developer, Mr. Mahida, tell the Eagle reporter that "Currently, we don’t have a Hilton product in the county? Does he not know that right down the road there is the Hampton Inn and Suites, a Hilton product?

Why did the heads of the local Chamber of Commerce and the Berkshire Visitors Bureau give their "blessings" to the second hotel plan, but not the first one (Marriott Courtyard Hotel)? That is a "No-no"! During my business traveling days I dealt, directly or indirectly, with several Chambers of Commerce throughout the United States. It was my understanding that they never favored one business over another, especially if they were members of the Chamber (I assume that both developers in this case are members).

Finally, my respect for our current town fathers, commissioners and planners will not falter when they carefully study both projects and decide which will enhance the safety and beauty of our area. If it were up to me, my choice would clearly be the Marriott Courtyard on Dan Fox Drive. Just thinking out loud, folks.

PETER C. GIFTOS

Dalton