Letter: Protect Great Barrington's small-town feel

Gr. Barrington can't lose small-town aura

To the editor:

Even though I'm no longer a resident in Great Barrington, the storm brewing over the proposed Bridge Street hotel caught my attention due to loud roar of voices heard across Berkshire County and beyond.

It appears there's a tug of war between two sides, those for those against. Tugging in favor on one side are the seller (Jane Iredale), the hotelier (Vijay Mahida), the lawyers (McCormick & associates) and the town tax coffers. Tugging on the other is everybody else. The vociferous arguments presented by both sides are relevant except both seem to be missing one important point.

That important point is the future vision for the town chosen by the Smithsonian in 2012 as the best small town in America. The criteria for their choice was attributed to "finding culture in small-town America." According to the article the qualities making Great Barrington stand out were the creative endeavors of individuals and including the lack of chain stores, the diversity of culture and the collective talent found in the local population. There's no Starbucks here and Friendly's, replaced by a thriving local café, left town. Add the recent International Financial Times glowing review of Berkshire County and questions pop up.

If the small creative things make Great Barrington stand out as the foremost small town in America, how would a 95-room chain hotel, the kind found in any American town, city and airport (and already found on the Route 7 north corridor), enhance and maintain the town's unique features?

The stakes are high for the Selectmen chosen by the town to represent its best present and future interests. They must think long, hard and with open minds beyond their personal viewpoints and terms of office. They must consider the views not just of the favored few but all the people who live and work in this very special town, the best small town in America. And while they're thinking they might just hum the lyrics of Joni Mitchell: "Don't it always seem to go but you don't know what you've got till it's gone, pave paradise put up a parking lot."

Annie Rye Lenox


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