Letter: Searles, bylaw are both at stake in Great Barrington

Searles, bylaw both at stake in Gr. Barr.

To the editor:

The Eagle stated in the editorial of Dec. 28 that the Great Barrington hotel plan would "convert the Searles School building into a 95-room hotel" and that "(t)he building's façade will be maintained so the project will qualify for an exemption to the town bylaw limiting new hotel projects to 45 rooms " The actual facts are that the building is to be 99 percent demolished, not "converted" in any meaningful sense, and the proposed hotel retains at most about 25 percent of the façade of the existing main building.

This is clearly not genuine historical preservation, of course, and the building therefore could not qualify for a special permit in any but the most distorted sense, in the same way that reusing boards from an old barn as a floor hardly constitutes saving the barn. Both those editorial statements are highly inaccurate, and it is therefore necessary that the record be corrected, since the integrity of a bylaw — and of the town meeting process that passed it — is at stake.

Steve McAlister, Great Barrington


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