Our Opinion: Not right use for St. Mary's Church property

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A consultant's report lends credence to what has long appeared obvious — a Dunkin' Donuts is wrong for the former church property on Tyler Street in Pittsfield.

Cafua Realty Trust is seeking a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to put a Dunkin' Donuts on the campus of the former St. Mary the Morning Star Church. In his report to the ZBA, Planning consultant John Mullin concluded that "this project will be detrimental to the character of the neighborhood." (Eagle, June 10).

The attractive 2.6 acre property has potential, and while the Diocese of Springfield is plainly in a hurry to sell it off, that is not Pittsfield's problem. The proposal is, as the consultant observed, inconsistent with the city's Master Plan, which calls for the revitalization of historic neighborhoods, not their weakening, and pedestrian-friendly uses, not automobile-friendly uses, which would clearly be the case with a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant and drive-thru.

Dunkin' Donuts, through Cafua, has tussled with the city over proposals on both Tyler Street and First and Fenn streets. It is understandably concerned about making profits, but city officials have a totally different responsibility to the community.

Pittsfield isn't short of Dunkin' Donuts restaurants any more than it is short of convenience stores, and a Dunkin' Donuts won't make enough of an economic impact to justify the loss of a choice piece of property in a largely residential neighborhood. It is impossible to say what the right use for the St. Mary's property is, but it can be said that this proposal isn't it.


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