Letter: Turnpike plan would ruin hill towns' fabric

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To the editor:

I have followed The Eagle's coverage of the proposed new Massachusetts Turnpike interchange in Berkshire County with great interest. The residents of Otis, Becket, and Blandford who recently decried the imposition of a massive new traffic artery on their local communities got it exactly right. Damage wrought is damage that cannot be undone.

I am the granddaughter of Joseph and Pauline Kuznicki, also known as Blueberry Joe and Mrs. K, blueberry growers for more than half of the past century in Blandford. Along with legions of young people and new arrivals, my sisters and I spent our childhood summers at the farm harvesting and packing berries, and the property remains a family effort today.

Now in a professional career in the building industry, I can say with assurance that the proposed turnpike project would irrevocably destroy the fabric of the hill towns in ways unacknowledged by the traffic study authors. If the proposed interchange were implemented in Blandford, our town's historic First Division Road, North Street — witness to General Knox's famous march of 1776 — would become nothing more than a congested, high-volume throughway; its side streets feeders; its communities' rural way of life undermined by encroaching urbanization. Our own farmhouse, the historic Boise Tavern feet from North Street, would become all but uninhabitable. Residential properties, woods, and fields would inevitably fall to commercial opportunists. In my experience, local restrictions have been little more than speed bumps to determined developers backed by state interests.

Do the hill towns wish to become mere pass-throughs for the convenience of others? Their intrinsic value siphoned away?

The Ulster Scots who established Blandford in 1735 were a fiercely independent, yet civic-minded group. I see their spirit today in the fields they cleared and stone walls they built; in the historic tavern my folks have so proudly restored; in Carolyn Taylor's lovely Baird Tavern; in the White Church and the Historical Society and all of the carefully tended homes that speak to a true sense of pride and community. In an increasingly harried and disconnected world, Blandford and all of the hill towns stand as a beacon for new generations seeking deep roots and a healthful life connected to land and fellow man.

Do not listen to the scare tactics that the hill towns are dying. They are in fact the vanguard of the future. History, community, and nature are priceless commodities. Promote them wisely— do not let them slip away.

Melissa Hendrix,

Washington, D.C.



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