To the editor of THE EAGLE:
To all who were unable to attend the Stockbridge Select Board’s continued hearing on Elm Court, I urge you to consider the importance of this project for Stockbridge and the Berkshires.
The Berkshires stands at a crossroads, economically and demographically. When my wife (who in full disclosure works for the law firm representing the special permit applicant) and I decided to make Stockbridge our home, we knew these risks, but took the chance because we believe that the Berkshire lifestyle that we so enjoy can and should draw more young people to the area. As a county, we do ourselves a disservice by opposing investment by responsible partners that can help more tourists discover our unique area and, hopefully, choose to settle here, bringing with them their families and businesses. The Travasaa Group is precisely the type of partner we should be supporting to sustain the Berkshires Brand for generations to come.
The Berkshires has always maintained an innovative, creative spirit that grows out of its strong connection to history. Travasaa has done extensive work to create an economically viable plan that meets the stringent zoning restrictions established by Stockbridge to keep development contained and protect open spaces and to ensure that renovations and new development maintain the historical character of the property. The plans preserve the expansive meadows, woods and incredible views of the Stockbridge bowl all the while shielding any new construction from abutters and from the bowl.
This project also reflects Stockbridge’s welcoming of new residents and visitors by making this great estate accessible to the public through its restaurant and spa. Opponents to this project contend that to preserve the estate it must be limited to a small, Blantyre-like hotel that only the very wealthy could afford, or, alternatively, condominiums. Either scenario, even if viable, would leave this historic property walled off from the vast majority of residents and tourists.
Ironically, many residents of Lenox, which has seen many large estates converted to large development, now attempt to block this project. I commend Lenox for successfully billing itself as the cultural Mecca of the Berkshires, but we cannot ignore the important role that Stockbridge and other towns can play in promoting the Berkshires’ legacy. This project does that in a responsible and sustainable way, and that is why I support it.