To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Having lived two houses away from Elm Court for more than 32 years, I have seen this historic Berkshire landmark when it was vacant and vandalized (not a good thing) and when the Berle family made it their home for several years. In both instances, the residential character of the neighborhood was preserved.
Clarence Fanto, in his Aug. 6 article, quotes Front-Yard LLC representative Gabe Finke as saying, "we went about building support for what we proposed." Two years ago, there was an open house at Elm Court where people could see the hotel project plans and talk to Chris Manning, who was the representative of the project at the time. At this open house, I mentioned to Mr. Manning that I was concerned about how much traffic would be increased by this project, to which he responded that a traffic study would be done and proceeded to walk away, seemingly not wanting to discuss the issue. In my mind, this is not the way you build community support.
Mr. Finke suggests that the proposed hotel will be more upscale than "a Marriott Courtyard." With 112 rooms priced for the average traveler, it sounds as if FrontYard’s target market is the same demographic as Marriott’s. While Mr. Finke talks about rivaling Canyon Ranch and Cranwell, he neglects the fact that both these resorts are located on major roadways, Routes 7A and 7 respectively, not on a two-lane, residential, country road with hills and blind spots.
Mr. Fanto goes on to quote Stockbridge Conservation Commission Chairman George Shippey as saying, "I can’t imagine any other organization willing to invest considerable funds into Elm Court." Elm Court straddles two towns, Lenox and Stockbridge. Mr. Shippey talks about the creation of 100 jobs and the increased property, lodging and meals taxes, the benefit of which will all go to Stockbridge, where the mansion is located. However, the water and sewer serving what FrontYard plans to build will be on the backs of Lenox taxpayers, who in summers past have been asked to conserve water by not watering lawns or taking too many showers. With 112 rooms, Lenox is looking at providing water and sewer for a minimum of 200-plus showers a day, plus pools and spas and laundry and dishes. Where will all the water come from when we have a dry summer?
Most important, the people who will stay at this new hotel will have cars. They will travel to their various destinations in their cars. They will use their cars to go out to breakfast, then to go back and use the pool or spa before they leave again for sightseeing and other excursions. They won’t just drive to the hotel and stay there for a week; they will travel around, significantly creating more traffic, and forever altering this quiet residential street.
Finally, like many of my neighbors, I don’t want a sidewalk or more stoplights. This is not what people come to Lenox for; they come to get away from the noise and craziness of city life. I moved here to enjoy the quiet, bucolic nature of this neighborhood, and I wish to continue to do so.
It just doesn’t seem fair that a corporation like FrontYard LLC and the Stockbridge Selectmen should have the power to disrupt the lives of so many taxpaying Lenox residents.