One-way or two-way? Lake Mansfield Road designs to be presented to Select Board


GREAT BARRINGTON >> Should Great Barrington revamp Lake Mansfield Road to make it one-way or try to find a way to maintain two-way traffic?

That's the question facing members of the Great Barrington Select Board on Monday as they hear from the Lake Mansfield Improvement Task Force about a new vision for the popular recreation area.

"This recommendation is for a comprehensive solution for the Lake Mansfield Recreation Area," task force Chairwoman Christine Ward wrote in a letter to the Select Board. "We acknowledge there is a petition requesting Lake Mansfield Road remain a two-way road."

The task force was created in 2014 to address the environmental condition of the lake and the accessibility of the southerly end of Lake Mansfield Road, which has been in a state of disrepair for over a decade.

In a report completed in late July, the task force recommended a one-way traffic pattern with extended pedestrian and bike access along the lake side. The plan also includes a larger parking lot that will take some space in what is now the forested area to the east of the beach.

The traffic pattern is the main sticking point for many residents in town who use the road as a shortcut around downtown to access other parts of the Southern Berkshires without braving the congestion of Main Street.

"In the course of our work the possibility of a two-way road was carefully examined," Ward's letter explained. "The limited space available and the proximity of the resource areas does not allow for the construction of a two-way road that also meets our improvement or funding goals."

Nadine Foster disagrees. She began a petition of town residents asking them to sign if they believed the road should remain two-way. She said she got a great response from the community.

"We all agree the road needs to be fixed," Foster said. "The biggest wedge in that discussion is the access."

She said she wants to see the project scaled down to allow for a two-way road by the lake and perhaps a smaller parking lot.

The newly designed parking lot will be a roundabout style parking area with four small lots. In order to facilitate the lot's construction, some of the forest in the recreation area will need to be cut down. Critics of the plan say cutting down trees is counterproductive to the goal of improving the lake area.

"From what I've seen of the proposed designs, the two-way solution seems to have the least impact on the woods," said Steve Johnson.

Johnson, a downtown resident, was at the lake Thursday to relax and read. He often comes down to the lake on his days off, he said. Though he acknowledged he wasn't an expert on the design plans, he said he was very concerned about the impact on the forest.

Ward said that the parking area would be better for the community and the stability of the waterfront.

"The parking area will move away from the beach to accommodate the grades for handicapped access, to create more organized parking spaces, and provide for stormwater management," she wrote.

If you go ...

What: Great Barrington Select Board discussion on Lake Mansfield Comprehensive Improvement Plan

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Where: Town Hall, Main Street


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