Letter: An Elm Court plan that fits brand
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The Berkshires are a rare and special place of great natural beauty. Every season is a wonder to behold, and I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have called this county my home for 50 years. I grew up in Stockbridge, South Lee and West Stockbridge and as an adult have lived in Richmond, Pittsfield and for the last six years, in Lenox. Each town has its own character and personality and sense of place. Each has hidden and not so hidden delights, many of which are experienced on foot, on a bike or on a leisurely drive. Taken as a whole those individual characteristics and moments of beauty are, to me, what define the Berkshires’ brand.
And it is this "brand" that keeps the hospitality heavy economy humming. The long-term success of any brand relies on consistency and creativity. In the case of the Berkshires we need to deliver the expected Berkshire experience and be creative in how we grow our economy while protecting, maintaining and enhancing what created this economy in the first place.
When I first heard that Elm Court was being sold and developed into a country house hotel along the lines of Wheatleigh (19 rooms) and Blantyre (21 rooms), I thought it was a wonderful fit for the neighborhood and would be consistent with the Berkshire brand and the needs of the residential neighborhood. But when the plan escalated dramatically to 112 rooms, a spa and a 60 seat restaurant geared toward a mid-market demographic, I got concerned. This development is grossly over-scaled, not in keeping with the Berkshire brand, and will all but destroy the special character of what the town of Stockbridge has designated as a scenic road.
I find it disingenuous for parties in favor of this project to threaten that should this development not be allowed that Elm Court will fall to rack and ruin. I know there is an appropriate adaptive reuse of the Elm Court estate that will enhance not detract from the town of Lenox and the Berkshires as a whole. In fact, there are two wonderful examples of neighborhood friendly, Berkshire brand building examples already on Old Stockbridge Road, namely Winden Hill and the Bishop Estate.
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