To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Location, location, location! That is the issue. James Foy and Clay Lifflander, owners and operators of Hudriv Investments in New York, want to build a substance abuse treatment facility in the former Williamsville Inn on Route 41 in West Stockbridge, which has been a private residence or inn for over 250 years. (Berkshire Eagle, May 31) Hundriv has hired EG Lahr Communications to mount a professional public relations campaign to convince our community that its facility will somehow be in the best interests of the community. Yet it should be noted that neither Foy nor Lifflander live in the area, or even in Massachusetts.
Mr. Lifflander, for example, owns a $2 million condo in Palm Beach. Nor are the two gentlemen really health care providers. Their company -- based in Dobbs Ferry, NY, but registered in Dover, Delaware -- is a self-described small cap private equity firm with expertise in health care investing and management.
What this means is that their primary concern is not for our community. It is not even for the youths seeking treatment. Their primary concern is to create a profit for their investors; i.e. themselves. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, but it should be weighed when the West Stockbridge Zoning Board of Appeals considers granting the waivers and special permits necessary for them to irrevocably alter our community's way of life.
There is no question that there is a need for substance abuse treatment facilities. The question is, is this the proper place? Please recall in the early 1980s the commonwealth of Massa-
chusetts proposed to establish a state prison at the old Shadow-
brook estate in Lenox, on the hillside overlooking Tanglewood. Think of how devastating that would have been to the life of the southern Berkshires! Think about the loss of tourism. Think about how you would feel going out at night, or keeping your doors and windows unlocked. Think about how that facility would have affected the very reasons why we've chosen to live in the southern Berkshires.
Ultimately, cooler and smarter heads prevailed and instead of a prison in 1983 we got Kripalu, which spawned the development of a lucrative holistic health industry; an industry consistent with our unique combination of culture, tranquility, and rural charm. Let us learn from that history. Instead of a substance abuse treatment facility dividing Great Barrington and West Stockbridge, let us create something that will bring us together.