An obvious solution to Lenox Club debate
To the editor:
So the age-old debate is about to begin anew around the Lenox Club. A long dormant piece of property is about to be used. The neighbors are of course outraged. Imagine, selling land that you own to be used for what will effectively be a by-right use. That the owner is a long-struggling nonprofit (that pays taxes by the way) is even less remarkable.
So the neighbors organize, make signs and crank up the "not near me" machine. Imagine, more houses on land zoned for homes! The existing homes created no adverse impact, but these NEW homes — an environmental disaster in the making.
But this is what you do not hear: "Let's buy it ourselves, and donate it to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council to add to the remaining 82 acres the Lenox Club wishes to sell." Instead, the neighbors will do what they can to harass and obstruct. Make a nearly bankrupt club totally bankrupt to ensure the place will be sold and subdivided. Maybe an upscale resort?
Cliffwood Street contains some of the most valuable property in Lenox. To say that most of the neighbors are not fairly affluent would be an understatement. Buying six lots for $450,000 would probably be quite easy for several of the nearby neighbors as individuals — and as a group, it would be a breeze.
At the most recent town meeting, guidelines for mandatory inclusion of affordable housing within any development to make a town accessible to many who have grown up there was shifted off the agenda to avoid an ugly battle that may reveal some truths that town leaders would rather hide. Affordability is created by production, but on Cliffwood Street, there is no danger of a low-rent house being built.
Which brings me back to my original premise: The greater the affluence that is being protected, the more self-interest in keeping the area exclusive and therefore valuable and insulated from price declines. Why would these folks protest? If it's that important, why not just buy it and donate it and allow BNRC to make a deal on the remaining parcel and ensure that your little enclave will continue to be exclusive and unmarred?
The answer seems so simple. Getting the town to vote to buy the land seems like so much work and ugly debate. Why would the town's remaining small middle or lower classes vote to preserve the property values of the increasingly wealthy neighbors? Then the town will need to tax that remaining group higher as revenue is removed from town coffers. How did these folks get so successful if they can't even see the easy answer? It must have been dumb luck.
Dave Pill, Pittsfield