Letter: Criticism of house destruction had worrisome connotations

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To the editor:

A few weeks so, I read an article in The Eagle about the future construction of a Jewish Community Center in Lenox ("Chabad of the Berkshires plans modern new home in Lenox," Eagle, July 21). Though Jewish life in the Berkshires finds meaningful representation with various synagogues in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington, there is no similar Jewish presence in Lenox.

The programs at the Tanglewood Music Festival every summer make Lenox the cultural epicenter of Berkshire County. Yet in spite of a large Jewish population during the tourist season, there is no center where Jewish people can get together for religious, social and cultural events. The proposed center will change this situation for the better and will be a welcome place where people of all denominations can meet each other and get together for interesting programs.

Almost a year ago, a site was acquired for the construction of the center on West Street, near the memorial in the center of town. On this site lay a house built in the mid-19th century. The intent of the new owners was to renovate the building so as to retain its original style. They raised a very substantial sum and replaced the badly leaking roof. The plan was then to fully renovate the interior of the house.

Unfortunately, this was simply not doable. The building is in extremely poor shape, with badly slanting floors, broken windows and doors, as well as almost completely non-functioning plumbing and electricity. Furthermore, the building has lead pipes and asbestos insulation which makes it hazardous to occupy.

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The goal is to construct a handsome community center, built in the New England style and made of materials that would blend in beautifully with the neighboring structures. Both the architect chosen to design the building and the construction company are located in Lenox.

Since the publication of the article in The Eagle, I have been made aware of a number of derogatory comments made by fellow readers, with particular reference to the demolition of an "historic" building. One wonders about the root cause of these comments. Are the protesters really concerned about an old, broken down house with little or no historic value or are they simply using this project as a cover for their latent anti-Semitism?

I hope the information in this letter will put an end to such inappropriate carping and will allow the project to move forward with the support of the Lenox community.

Irwin Kanarek, M.D.,

Stockbridge


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