Stockbridge to host second visioning session


STOCKBRIDGE >> What kind of community will the onetime hometown of Norman Rockwell become over the next 20 years?

The town's second community visioning workshop, "Time for a Reality Check," will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Town Offices gymnasium.

More than 85 residents attended the first public discussion on Jan. 28, a "terrific turnout," said Town Administrator Jorja-Ann P. Marsden. "Townspeople used 'perfect-world thinking' to envision what Stockbridge could be at its very best in 2036."

Among the issues challenging the community are declining population, rising costs of town services, Marsden's mid-July retirement, the impending departure of Police Chief Robert Eaton, questions about the future approach of policing in the town, and the agreement to explore collaborations with Lee and Lenox.

The town administrator position in Stockbridge has been identified as a possibility for a shared-services arrangement.

At the first gathering, the town's Visioning Committee members led 10 smaller groups in a guided brainstorming exercise that generate energetic discussion, Marsden noted, followed by a "lightning-round presentation" by committee members to highlight points raised during the discussion.

Community leaders have organized the gatherings to gain ideas from residents for a meaningful plan focusing on community preservation and development, Marsden explained.

Before the plan can move forward, she stated, "residents should agree on a picture of what they want their community to look like, feel like and be like considering forces that are influencing the community's future."

Population projections indicate a decline from 1,947 in the 2010 U.S. Census to 1,309 by 2030. The population peaked at 2,408 in 1990, according to federal records. The decline between 1990 and 2010 was nearly 20 percent.

About three out of five homes in town are owned by seasonal residents, local property records show. The second-home group contributes about 70 percent of local tax revenues.

Between 1990 and 2010, the census figures show, there was a 27 percent decline in households with children, while households with seniors 65 and older increased by the same percentage.

Thus, in 2010 only 17 percent of homes included children, while 41 percent included seniors.

Professional planning consultants Connie Kruger of Kruger Consulting in Amherst and Jennifer Goldson of JM Goldson Community Preservation + Planning in Boston have helped organize the presentations.

The first workshop, "Time to Dream," emphasized "the best imagined future" while the Monday discussion is aimed at "grounding the vision and setting goals for the future," Marsden pointed out.

It is not necessary for participants at the second discussion to have attended the first meeting, she added.

A final report based on the results of the two workshops is expected to be released by early May.

Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.

If you go ...

What: "Time for a Reality Check," the second of two community workshops on the future direction of Stockbridge.

When: 6:30-9 p.m. Monday

Where: Stockbridge Town Offices Gymnasium, 50 Main St.

Notes: Optional RSVP to

Information: or 413-298-4170, ext. 100

Light refreshments will be provided. Child care will be provided if requested in advance.


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