Letter: Tough but not impossible to make carousel sustainable
To the editor,
Regarding recent and past letters concerning the Berkshire Carousel, I, too, am dismayed at the demise of the carousel. As a former volunteer/carver, I am especially upset for those artists who donated time and work (horses, painted panels, painted benches and inscribed walkway bricks) to commemorate loved ones that are now inaccessible to share with family and friends.
As to the carousel on The Common or other locations — that ship has sailed, that train has left the station, that horse is long gone from the barn. The present location, a few blocks form The Berkshire Museum, The Colonial and the Berkshire Athenaeum is fine.
The property can be improved with a paved parking lot, spruced up landscaping and a small playground as an added attraction.
It is time to focus on the future of the carousel and stop worrying about the past. The assets of the carousel are the property, the building and the carousel, as well as other sundries. Much money has been spent by the state, donors and local businesses to get to this point.
Since the present board of directors has indicated it is no longer interested in operating the carousel, when a viable group comes forward to take up the challenge, the board can help with the transition by welcoming an all new board of directors.
The all new board would need an updated business plan with ongoing fundraising and grant-writing. They would need to find a new director of operations. It would need to cultivate a new group of volunteers as dedicated and enthusiastic as the group that "built" the carousel. To facilitate the transition, the present board of directors would need to clear up any outstanding debt and waive the $1.22 million mortgage granted to the Shulmans in 2018. A clean slate is needed.
From checking out other operating carousels, it is obvious that it cannot survive on the money from riders alone. New programming, co-programing with other venues and continual fundraising and grant-writing are essential.
As a gesture of long-term commitment to the community, the cost to ride needs to be $1 or less.
None of this is necessarily easy, but it happened before and it can happen again!
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