Speak out in favor of Gr. Barr. hotel

To the editor:

On Monday, Nov. 9, the Great Barrington Selectboard will hold a public hearing to consider allowing a new hotel to be built where the old Searles School stands. Go to the hearing and tell them we need that hotel.

A local developer has stepped forward who is putting up over $20 million to build it. The hotel will pay at least $450,000 in taxes to Great Barrington every year and will add at least 25 permanent jobs. It will have its own parking so it will be bringing new shoppers to our downtown stores without making it harder for locals to park.

The local developer has promised to pay for upgrades to the Riverwalk Park and to Memorial Field, the baseball field across the street, and to allow us to continue parking in his lot during baseball games. He wants the area around the hotel to look nice and he's not asking the taxpayers to pay for it. He's not asking the taxpayers for anything, except permission to spend his money in our town to build a hotel.

Whether or not this hotel is built is entirely up to the Selectboard. Do you trust the Selectboard to make the right decision? I don't. Remember the old firehouse? They need to hear from locals who have watched jobs disappear and property taxes go up.


Go to the meeting on Nov. 9. There are people organizing against the hotel because they don't like how it looks. It's not acceptable to their sense of design. They hope that someone else will come along and build something more in line with their idea of attractive. Well, it isn't their money.

I went to Searles just like most of the people who grew up here. I would love to see the building saved. But for 10 years it has sat empty, paying no taxes, and providing a hiding place for drug users and vandals.

Don't trust that the Selectboard will do the right thing. Go to the meeting and speak out. Tell the Selectboard we need that hotel. If you don't go, don't complain when they bow to the pressure of those who have an idea of what our town should look like.

James Sobel Housatonic