To the editor of THE EAGLE:
In an extended, enjoyable visit here in the beautiful Berkshires, I find myself coming to appreciate very much not only the region but also your newspaper. (I pick up a copy and coffee every morning at O’Brien’s Market in Lenox.) The poignant editorial "Plight of city’s downtown stores" in the Oct. 7 edition is particularly interesting.
As you observe, "Towns and cities everywhere have problems with parking." This is as true in Charleston, South Carolina, my beloved hometown, as it is in Pittsfield. But rarely is it a matter of "drivers insist[ing] on always finding a spot in front of a chosen store." Indeed, most of us would be delighted if we only had "to walk a couple of blocks to go to a store" -- and if parking were free. Almost everyone, regardless of economic circumstances, feels subliminally better about shopping when they do not have to pay to park.
Although huge, block-size parking lots are almost always unattractive, smaller landscaped lots can be appealing as well as facilitate free parking closer to stores. Yes, there would be costs involved in constructing and maintaining such smaller lots; however, the costs, if borne by the affected municipalities, could prove to be a prudent spending of tax revenues.
As an active member of the Green Party, I am concerned about sustainability on local as well as on national and international levels. In that regard, I commend your concern about "The harm that will come to small businesses" if big box chain stores continue to proliferate. Here’s hoping all candidates in your Nov. 5 city elections will let voters know now what they would do, if elected, to address the plight of downtown stores -- particularly with regard to parking and to the big box chain stores.