IN THIS ISSUE: VOL. III NO. 10 5/15/2022
by Tate Coleman
by Carole Owens
Photo: Patrick White
Exercise Your Rights — Be Involved
Town Meeting is May 16th 6:30 p.m. Town Offices
Vote in Town elections on May 17, 2022 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Photo: Jay Rhind
FYI from Stockbridge Updates
Fill out the CTSB Questionnaire
COVID19 or no COVID19, we have come to rely upon CTSB to keep us tuned in. CTSB is, without doubt, a community asset. Now CTSB needs us. The Five-Town Cable Commission has a questionnaire in the Post Office and Town offices. It is important that folks pick one up, fill it out, and drop it back in the box. Spectrum has an obligation to fund CTSB; does it? CTSB may be short staffed and need volunteers, are the towns responding? Services we all love and rely upon may be cut back; will they be? How can we help? Get involved. Our reps to the Five Town Commission are Patrick White and Michael Canales — get in touch with them and ask a question before we lose a valuable asset.
Photo: Jay Rhind
Renown expert Bob Leverett leads a walk through Ice Glen after the Old Forest dedication. Neither Bob nor a forester who attend could explain the tree on the right. Photo: Patrick White
Ice Glen inducted into Old Growth Forest Network
A Special Thank you: The Agricultural and Forestry Commission is one of the newest Stockbridge commissions and yet it really hit the ground running. They gave out trees for planting on Arbor Day. They ushered in Ice Glen's formal induction into the National Old-Growth Forest Network at a lovely ceremony. With their input, the Town completed the process and awarded a grant to treat the infested trees in Ice Glen. Thank you and congratulations to Matt Boudreau, Chair, and all the hard-working members of the Agricultural and Forestry Commission.
Old Growth Forest Network Thanks the Town
To the Selectboard, Agricultural and Forestry Commission, Conservation Commission, Laurel Hill Association and to the people of the Town of Stockbridge: We are delighted to recognize Ice Glen as part of the Old-Growth Forest Network, a growing alliance dedicated to the preservation of unique and beautiful native forests across the U.S. Our nation's original forests have been reduced to a tiny fraction of their former magnificence. The Old-Growth Forest Network is working to designate one forest in every county where people can always experience their natural heritage and nurture a deeper relationship with the natural world. Like the trees we love, the supporters of the Old-Growth Forest Network stand together to ensure these forests will never be logged. Dedicated individuals and caring communities make this promise possible, and we are grateful to all who have worked tirelessly to preserve Ice Glen. It was a complete pleasure for me to come and be part of the forest dedication last week. Thank you for your work and thank you for partnering with us. We are honored to have Ice Glen in the Network. Congratulations! Sarah RobbGrieco Northeast Regional Manager
Sarah RobbGrieco, Regional Manager, Old Growth Forest Network
Oak and birch received from Agricultural and Forestry Commission. Photo: Patrick White
PSA from Literacy Network of South Berkshire and Stockbridge Library
Literacy Network of South Berkshire and Stockbridge Library partner on a new lecture series, Community Conversations
The Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) and the Stockbridge Library announce the launch of a new lecture series, Community Conversations, featuring lectures on fun, informative, and discussion-worthy content. The content will be organized and delivered in a way to be accessible to community members whose first language is not English and will be open to all members of the community to attend. The intention is for these lectures to provide an immersive listening and discussion opportunity for Berkshire area intermediate/advanced-level English language learners seeking to develop their language skills. The lectures are free and the content is for a general audience. Anybody is welcome to attend.
The inaugural lecture, The History of Chocolate, will be led by Great Barrington resident Deb Ryan and will be held on Thursday, May 26 at 5:30 PM at the Stockbridge Library. Ryan has worked in advertising and marketing for several chocolate-related companies, including Duncan Hines and Schrafft's Candy Co. before becoming the president and founder of the Historic Division of Mars, Inc. She is also the producer of a film called Cocoa to Chocolate, which describes the chocolate making process.
About the series, Ryan, who co-contributed to envisioning the nature of the series, states: "The idea occurred to me from my experience as an adult language learner when I lived in France. It's a chance for learners and other members of a community to get together and have a chance to practice speaking and listening in a relaxed, nonjudgmental, and no stress way."
Lectures will run 20-30 minutes with 20-30 minutes of follow-up questions and discussion and will be a range of general-interest topics. They are scheduled to occur every six weeks.
The Community Conversation Series evolved out of an ongoing partnership between the Stockbridge Library and the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. The two organizations have joined forces to begin to develop programming and events and to provide resources for all community members, with a special focus on providing English/Spanish programming, opportunities for English-language learners and space in which to support such programming.
Community members are welcome to propose their own lectures or to suggest topic ideas for future Community Conversation events. To propose a lecture or for more information, contact LitNet's Executive Director Leigh Doherty at email@example.com or (413) 243-0471 or Stockbridge Library Director Wendy Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 298-8140.
Photo: Joan Gallos
- Chesterwood: Beginning May 30 Arts Alive! will return. That is late afternoon performances in dance, tableau vivant, readings with musical accompaniment — all set against the beautiful grounds of Chesterwood and the Berkshire Hills. World Premier: Daniel Chester French: American Sculptor, May 26 7 pm – 8 pm Mahaiwe Performing Arts Theater, Great Barrington
- Easy Naturalist: Signs of Spring (self-guided walk), Parsons Marsh, Lenox. The self-guided Easy Naturalist: Signs of Spring walk will be on from Saturday, May 7 through Monday, May 30 (dawn to dusk) at Parsons Marsh in Lenox. Click here for more information.
- Austen Riggs: May 20 6:30 p.m. Virtual Friday night lecture: "Journeying Toward Racial Equality in North American Psychoanalysis" presented by Dorothy Evans Holmes PhD
Photo: Nathan Hayward III
From the Desk of Superintendent Peter Dillon
Berkshire Hills Regional School District (BHRSD)
As we head into our Annual Town Meeting, I'm sharing some updates on warrant articles.
There are 3 warrant articles connected to the School District.
Article 5 is for our operating budget. The increase is to cover increases in salaries, transportation, insurance and utilities. We also added an assistant principal for Career, Vocational and Technical Education. The amount went up because Stockbridge had more students this year and Great Barrington had slightly fewer. The % increase is unusual and the longitudinal increase over 10 years was closer to 3% each year. We did return $76,436 to Stockbridge this year and we raised more than $4 million in grants this past year which both help offset assessments.
Article 6 is for our capital budget — debt payments on Muddy Brook Elementary School and Du Bois Middle School.
Article 9 is to authorize borrowing for a feasibility and schematic design study for a new or renovated high school. Stockbridge's share is roughly $480,000. We were one of 17 projects selected by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. 42 projects were rejected. Feasibility and schematic design are a necessary step in advancing a potential building project. This cost will not impact the current year's budget but FY24.
I can respond to any questions before the town meeting by email and I will be at the town meeting as well.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, The Regional School District Planning Board voted 16-6 to move forward with the consultant's recommendation to merge BHRSD and SBRSD and share a high school on the Great Barrington campus. Take a look at this recent FAQ for some updates. In the coming months, there will be facilitated conversations and a series of meetings to try to develop a new regional agreement which would then be voted on as well as a revised educational vision.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions — Peter.Dillon@bhrsd.org
Next issue, I'll share some updates on future School Committees topics including our work with the 9th grade team, shifts in Career, Vocational and Technical Education (CVTE), and what post-secondary choices our seniors are making.
Photo: Jay Rhind
Photos: Teresa O'Brient
The Curious Case of the Cemetery Rocks
The Mystery Artist of Stockbridge. Most afternoons, Teresa O'Brient and a friend walk the Stockbridge cemetery. They see these small painted rocks left here and there. They pause, admire and smile at the anonymous works of art by the mystery artist of Stockbridge. Photos: Teresa O'Brient.
Notes from the Select Board (SB), April 28, Hybrid meeting
- Roxanne McCaffrey, Chair
- Chuck Cardillo
- Patrick White
- Michael Canales, Town Administrator
- Donna Brewer, Town Counsel
- Steve Shatz via Zoom
- Jim Balfanz via Zoom
- Tom Stokes via Zoom
- Patrick White requested that optional funding for sscholarships via the tax bills be added to the Warrant. Approved
- Minutes of the 3/10, 3/17, and 4/7 SB meetings approved as amended
- Brewer in person and Shatz from London spoke about the "Rest of the River" escrow account and the $35,000 Article on the Warrant.
- Brewer said "going back years and years" there was a process that resulted in an agreement that GE pay five towns a total of $55,000,000 not divided equally. "All we are doing now" she went on, pursuant to an escrow agreement reached in 2/20, is setting up a $1,500,000 "put in place out of the $55,000,000 and used to insure going forward that the settlement is fully realized."
- Shatz spoke from London saying in addition we will continue to ask Town Meeting for $35,000/annually for legal costs, and environmental consultants (to ensure compliance). The money is held by Berkshire Regional Planning Commission that receives part of the $35,000 for services. Once the agreement is "final and unappealable" money will be distributed. Shatz anticipated that would take another two years.
- Shatz said, the first distribution will be reimbursement of the amount expended to date. Shatz said "it is hard to believe it has been nine years"" and added something about $35,000 paid annually for 10 years might total $150,000 spent by Stockbridge and that would be reimbursed first before the "settlement" was distributed. According to Shatz, the formula for paying in and for reimbursement is: Lee and Lenox 45%, the other three towns 10% roughly 3% each.
- Stokes asked for public forum to better understand this issue and expenditure. McCaffrey said that is unnecessary as there were public hearings at the time (2013). Stokes said that was some time ago and time for an update. Shatz agreed with McCaffrey no need for public forum and added, once agreement was implemented, there would be no work in Stockbridge, only work in Lee and Lenox. Shatz also added he answered questions and explained at every annual Town Meeting.
- Stokes reported that the questionnaire for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program will be held and distributed in the fall as the summer season is very busy for nonprofits.
- Review and reordering Warrant
- Articles 1 – 6 must stay in that order. Following will order in amounts of money requested — most to least.
- Will order Community Preservation Committee awards from most to least amounts of money
- Two articles proposed by citizens — agreed to push the one from Stockbridge citizens a position earlier on Warrant
- Jay Rhind resigned from Conservation Commission (ConCom)
Editor's note: 1. The five towns in the Rest of River agreement are: Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, and Sheffield. 2. Of the five, Lee decided not to contribute the $35,000 3. Possibly Shatz misspoke when he said the $35,000 "was paid annually for 10 years". The agreement was signed in 2019. See question #1 below. 3. When the request for the $35,000 appeared on the Warrants, attendees asked questions. However, at past Town Meetings, Shatz, our ROR representative, always said he could not answer questions because of ongoing litigation.
Editor's questions: 1. Although agreement was signed in 2019, and the process began earlier. Brewer said, "many years ago" and Shatz said "I can't believe it has been nine years". So assuming 2013, did Stockbridge incur costs in the years 2013 - 2019? If Stockbridge did incur costs prior to 2019, will those be reimbursed? 2. Since 2019, Stockbridge has put $35,000 in a fund annually. According to Shatz, that will be reimbursed "first" by GE. Will it be reimbursed out of the settlement? Apparently, Brewer said yes, out of the $55,000,000. In that case, the amount of the settlement is reduced by the costs. In that case, aren't the five towns not GE actually paying for "the settlement to be fully realized"? Do the five towns receive the settlement minus the reimbursed costs or does the agreement say the five towns receive the settlement PLUS reimbursement of costs? 3. It's it far worse that the reimbursement is taken out first? 4. Is it safe to assume GE is putting the $1,500.000 in escrow? Are the five towns, by whatever formula, putting it in? If the latter, the agreement is so bad for the towns, doesn't it require a special Town Meeting before we vote as Stokes suggested? 5. If Stockbridge pays in another $35,000, Shatz said it would total $150,000, that equals 10% of our anticipated settlement if the reimbursement comes out of the settlement
Photo: Jay Rhind
Notes from the Historic Preservation Committee, May 2, Hybrid meeting
- Carl Sprague, Chair
- Peter Williams
- Jorja Marsden
- Lisa Sauer
- Pam Sandler
- Attorney Nicolas Arienti via Zoom
- Arienti on behalf of 38 Lake Drive. Application to demolish house.
- Williams said, search of records did not uncover any historically significant owner or event. The structure is from 1957 older than 50 years (67 years) but not architecturally significant
- Architect Sandler said, while she is not voting against demolition, she did want to note the house is a classic example of mid-century modern.
- Has been some more-recent renovation
- Permit to demolish approved
Photo: Joan Gallos
Notes from the Assessors Meeting, May 2, Hybrid meeting
- Gary Pitney Chair
- Doug Goudey
- Tom Stokes
- Tammy Toupence, secretary
- Michael Blay, Town Assessor
- As required by the Commonwealth every five years, the Assessor mailed a survey to all second homeowners.
- Of the income and expense forms required by Department of Revenue (DOR) and due every March 1, three were not returned. They are required of commercial, industrial, and rental businesses.
- Blay attended a conference
- "Eagle View" maps topography from airplane fly-overs annually. It produces Hi-Res images compatible with Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- Blay was enamored of it, but questioned cost? Also wondered if could be a shared service with other South Berkshire towns?
- Chair moved meeting into executive Session to discuss decision from Appellate Tax Board (ATB)
Editor's note: 1. The ATB hears and decides state and local tax appeals, including: property tax, individual income tax, corporate excise, sales and use tax. 2. Is there an invasion-of-privacy issue with Eagle View?
Tulips. Photo: Patrick White
Notes from the Agricultural and Forestry Commission, May 2, Hybrid meeting
- Matthew Boudreau
- Lisa Bozzuto
- Shelby Marshall
- Erik Rasmussen via Zoom
- Michael Canales via Zoom
- Approve March 4 minutes as written
- Report on Arbor Day Tree Giveaway
- 150 trees given away
- Hopes everyone has already planned the trees
- Successful day — thanked Austen Riggs
- Canales reported the Request for Proposals (RFP) to treat trees in Ice Glen went out. There were two bidders. NE Tree Service was the winner. Their bid came in for less than anticipated so there is money remaining. Canales said the winning bid was reviewed and okayed by consultant Ken Gooch. Marshall requested copy of winning bid. Canales will send. It was suggested that the Commission get the word out that the work is getting done
- Old Growth Forest dedication. SB rep to Commission Chuck Cardillo was invited to accept [plaque at the dedication, but "no word from Chuck" so the Chair will invite Patrick White to accept
- Canales: per commission's request, there is a Warrant article to increase the size of the Commission from 3 and 2 alternates to 5 no alternates.
- Chair is following through on finding housing for farm workers. Stumbling block is that they come to Berkshires during high tourist season, so housing is scarce. Rasmussen suggested using locals such as the Greenagers
- Rasmussen also serves on the Town Cable Commission and said there were forms in the Post Office about CTSB (also Town Hall). Asked folks please pick one up and fill it out. It is important we have CTSB and that Spectrum funds it as they are required by law to do.
- Chair asked for motion to adjourn and said the farmer's market will return to agenda next meeting
Trillium. Photo: Patrick White
Notes from Water and Sewer Commission, May 3, Hybrid meeting
- Don Schneyer, Chair
- Peter Socha
- John Liodice
- Michael Buffoni, Water Superintendent
- Tony Campetti, Sewer Superintendent
- April 19 minutes approved as written
- Buffoni said the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) wants all towns to have written rules and regu;lations. He has an example Stockbridge could adopt and is working on that
- There has been trouble getting a full unobstructed flow from the reservoir. What was 600 gallons/minute was down to 320/minute. Search for cause and improved flow to 500/minute. Still investigating and considering suggestions to restore full, unobstructed flow. Possibly replace one valve that is 130 years old. Buffoni said there is good news: a. flow increasing continuously b. water quality is excellent
- Discussed articles on Warrant related to Water and Sewer, for example, pump station and phase three of Inflow and Infiltration (I&I)
- DEP now requires a 20-year master Plan
- Buffoni's idea for capturing electricity from water flow continuing to be investigated and apparently has merit to go forward
- Water plant roof needs painting
- Despite windy conditions, water testing complete. Result looks good
- Progress being made on town beach and town beach parking
- I&I continuing — there are 20 miles of sewer to test
Porcupine quills pulled from dog. Photo: Patrick White
Notes from the Finance Committee, May 5, Hybrid meeting
- Jay Bikofsky, Chair
- Steve Shatz
- Jim Balfanz
- Bill Vogt
- Pam Boudreau
- Diane Reuss
- Neil Holden
- Michael Canales
- Minutes approved as written
- Chair articulated purpose of meeting as organizing for Baby Town and Town meetings. Finance Committee runs the Baby Town Meeting (the meeting where all financial Warrant articles are discussed) and Finance Committee members read those articles at Town Meeting
- Article 4, 5, 6 relate to expenditures for education both capital and operating budgets: Shatz will present these articles. School Superintendent Peter Dillon will be present at Town Meeting (not Baby Town Meeting) to answer questions
- Warrant Article 7 will be presented by Chair — $4 million infrastructure — was Article 52, now amended
- #8 related to fire truck (fire truck also in #7 — difference in money available for purchase has to do with whether or not Stockbridge is awarded grant for which it applied
- # 9 and # 10 relate to borrow and an effort to pay down and borrow in a way that keeps level the annual interest rate (the amount Stockbridge pays for borrowing)
- #11 [permission to transfer funds from Cemetery Trust Fund
- #12 Jim Balfanz — asked Bill Vogt but Vogt declined as he is not attending Town Meeting (or Baby Town Meeting?)
- #13 – #26 and #27 – #39 Michael Canales Town expenditures
- # 40 – # 56 CPC awards Jim Balfanz. Balfanz suggested we vote as one shortening the Warrant from 62 Articles to 46 Articles. Canales disagreed
- # 57 – # 62 not for Finance Committee as no financial component
- Balfanz asked what the projected tax rate will be — increase from 9.38 to 9.52 per 1000
Photo: Patrick White
Notes from the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission (SBSC), May 6, Hybrid meeting
- Jamie Minacci, Chair
- Charles Kenny
- Roxanne McCaffrey
- Gary Kleinerman
- John Liodice
- Michael Buffoni
- Michael Nathan via Zoom
- Pat Kennelly via Zoom
- Minutes approved as corrected
- Chair resumed review of recommendations to send to GZA (water resources consultant) for Lake Management Plan as shown on a chart of priorities
- Kenny interrupted to ask about money available for dredging. "It is a huge cost for the Town." His understanding was that SBA raised money "earmarked for dredging". Kenny asked how much and is it still available?
- McCaffrey said that was a question for Town Administrator and Town Accountant, not SBSC
- Kenny said if SBSC is advisory to SB and advises dredging, SBSC should also know cost and method of payment. Kenny said, SBA is here (Pat Kennelly, President and Michael Nathan), we can ask right now.
- Nathan apparently agreed with McCaffrey that finances not job of SBSC; SBSC limited to considering what is best for lake.
- Chair said Kenny made a good point but at this time complete priorities to send to GZA
- Catalogue of species
- Re: Quality of water, Buffoni said "water column fully mixed" (which is good result). Concerns are storm water, sediment, nutrients, and/or salt off roads that decrease quality.
- Bacteria (province of Tri-Town Health)
- Best management practices
- Continue employment of Tom Coote
- Inflow from run-off est $1.5 million
- Public comment: Schwerner reintroduced money for dredging.
- Nathan said money was there in SBA
- Kennelly said yes it was earmarked for dredging
Editor's note: In another meeting it was mentioned that while Stockbridge has verbal assurances, it does not have any written agreement with SBA for shared funding of dredging and no formal accounting of how much money is forthcoming from SBA. Amounts from $1.5 million to over $2 million have been mentioned.
Photo: Patrick White
Notes from the Select Board Meeting, May 12, Hybrid meeting
- Roxanne McCaffrey, Chair
- Chuck Cardillo
- Patrick White
- Michael Canales, Town Administrator
- Harold French
- Minutes of 3/10 not approved
- National Grid, Steve Haywood via Zoom, request for permit for electrical work (underground wires to a pole) on Lincoln Lane and Main Streets. Approved
- Thank you note to the Riverbrook School for $2000 Payent in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) donation to town.
- One day liquor licenses for Shantz Gallery and IS183 for a gallery opening and a fund raiser respectively. Approved
- Harold French presented details for Memorial Day celebration — after COVID19 interruption, the full ceremony is back.
11 a.m. Cemeteries
12:15 Parade down Main Street
Stops at the two war memorials (Pine and Main ) and at Children's Chime Tower
Program at Proctor Hall
Hot dogs and soft drinks for all
- Harold made some interesting observations
- Stockbridge has 600 graves of veterans — all are decorated
- The decoration — flag and marker — at Indian burial grounds have been stolen
- Weed wackers are harming grave stones and trees
- At Town Meeting May 16 masks are optional for the vaccinated AND REQUIRED FOR THE UNVACCINATED
- Vote on the 17th from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- Kampoosac Bog once had a committee for care and oversight, White asked for volunteers to reinstate the committee
An ocean of violets in bloom. Photo: Patrick White
by Tate Coleman, Chair, Regional Transportation and Advisory Commission
The Town of Great Barrington is partnering with the Town of Stockbridge in applying for a Microtransit Pilot Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant would establish a demand-response transit program.
Demand-response transit (DRT) is defined as "public transit that is not traditional fixed-route, fixed-schedule, but rather a service that responds in some manner or form to individualized requests or demand for transportation service."
The proposed service is based on recommendations from the Berkshire County Microtransit Planning Study, conducted by the Regional Transportation Advisory Committee and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. The Stockbridge representative to the Advisory Committee was Jamie Minacci.
The Great Barrington Council on Aging currently provides transportation for Stockbridge seniors and persons with disabilities, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 3:00 p.m. The fare is $3.50 to $5.00 per one-way ride.
If the application is successful, the 1-year Microtransit Pilot Service in South County—within the municipalities of Great Barrington, Egremont, and Stockbridge — would operate Monday through Sunday. Monday - Friday 6:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.; Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. and 3 – 6 p.m.
We hope to hear about the grant award within the next few months. Questions and comments:
- Tate Coleman, Chairman, RTAC, email@example.com
- Jamie Minacci, Stockbridge Representative, RTAC, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Patrick White
by Carole Owens
This is a case of the horses and the barn door. Even so, it merits just a few sentences about something Sally Underwood Miller said about preexisting nonconforming lots at a ConCom meeting.
First, our Town Assessor, Michael Blay, mentioned at more than one meeting that the number of property sales is the largest in his tenure as Assessor (over twenty years). For those who wanted development we have had it. Purchasers routinely tore down existing houses in order to build bigger and presumably better. Sadly, it means building to the limits
The problem, particularly around Stockbridge Bowl, is that almost all lots were unbuildable, that is, too small, per our current bylaws. Nonetheless, during this real estate boom, the PB and ConCom approved many if not all special permits.
At a recent meeting, contemplating the result, Underwood-Miller suggested that if it is an unbuildable lot given current regulations, it should remain so and not be permitted. The extant house can stand, and be used, but once it is no more due to fire, old age, or demolition, nothing else can be built on that lot since it is nonconforming.
It is an elegant solution to the problem of placing undue strain on the lake and overbuilding in general. And it is not original. It has been tried in other areas and worked well to retain the character of a community and the environmental integrity.
Just a thought — in a few words.
Photo: Patrick White
THE LAST WORD
Reader to Reader
Allen Hyman: Bill Vogt's recollection inaccurate
Dear Stockbridge Updates:
I reread Bill Vogt's message in the May 1st issue of Updates. I found it conflicted with my memory of the event on the agenda of the Selectmen's meeting of March 10. Last night I watched a video of the Zoom of the meeting. Patrick Sheehan was invited to comment on his plans for developing the DeSisto property.
Mr. Vogt said that at the March 10th Selectmen's meeting, Mr. Sheehan said he was willing to make significant changes to his original plans for the property. I listened attentively to Mr. Sheehan's comments. Mr. Sheehan stated the opposite of what Mr. Vogt claimed. Clarence Fanto correctly quoted Mr. Sheehan in the Berkshire Eagle on March 11 when he was asked about changes to his plan. Sheehan replied: "We really just want to kind of recommit to the plan we presented". In contrast to Mr. Vogt's assertion, Mr. Sheehan said nothing about a willingness to make changes.
Allen Hyman MD FCCM
Editor's note: Hyman is Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology, Columbia University
Stuart Hirschfield: Sheehan showed no flexibility
In his election statement (Candidates Q&A Stockbridge Updates, May 1, 2022), Bill Vogt made a serious misstatement when he characterized the current owner of 37 Interlaken (Patrick Sheehan) as willing to make significant changes to his original plans for the property.
In fact, at a recent Select Board meeting, when asked if the plan was any different from the one voted and turned down at a Town Meeting, the owner said there was "really no change".
He later emphasized that "the project I need is the one I asked for" and stated further that fewer units might reduce the feasibility of the project for him.
The development of 37 Interlaken, a single property in town, has been an unending obsession for some. To advance his candidacy by citing the owner's willingness to make significant changes as leading, in Mr. Vogt's view, to "sensible growth," flies in the face of the statements to the contrary made by the owner himself and is not supported by fact.
Editor's note: Hirshfield served on the Planning Board
Paul and Lenore Sundberg: Vote for Lis Wheeler
Dear Stockbridge Updates readers,
We heartily support Elisabeth Danish Wheeler for a seat on the Stockbridge Planning Board. She brings to the task a deep love for the town cultivated over many decades and an appreciation of its unique history and natural beauty. Lis is focused on preserving the special qualities of our town and working collaboratively with our local environmental organizations. Her commonsense approach to our zoning bylaws and to exploring ways of supporting affordable housing for retirees and working families align with our own views and priorities. Lis brings fresh energy and a lifetime of Stockbridge experiences to share with the board as it deals with old projects and new challenges. Her background as a licensed mental health counselor paired with her current work as a realtor should serve her well as she works in tandem with other board members and Town committees.
Sincerely, Lenore and Paul Sundberg
Longtime Interlaken residents
Merrill Sanderson: Vote for McCaffrey, Vogt
As a former Town Moderator and Planning Board member I understand how important consensus building is in town government. I believe Roxanne McCaffrey and Bill Vogt have shown the ability to work well with other board members to further the best interests of Stockbridge. I urge all voters to support them on May 17.
Gary Pitney: Thanks, Carole
A wonderful edition. Thank You for all your diligence and very hard work.
Gary Pitney is Chair of the Board of Assessors and member of the PB
Harold French: Town website seriously lacking
The town's website does not mention town meeting or elections plus the town report is not out yet. I thought that they had to be informing the populous by a certain number of days prior to elections and town meeting. How are we to make informed decisions about town matters if we are not informed?
Stockbridge Updates sent out the Warrant May 9. Hope you received.
Town Democrats enodorse Minacci, Fletcher, Wheeler
An informed electorate is always important but especially in contested races. The Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee studies the candidates and their positions and then endorses.
Endorsed candidates in contested races:
Select Board — Jamie Minacci
Jamie is a hometown girl. She skied and ran cross-country for Monument Mountain's track team. For two years, Jamie has been Chair of the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission (SBSC) working to develop a Lake Management Plan. She is a member of the Conservation Commission, Stockbridge Representative to Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) Advisory Committee and the Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTA) in Great Barrington, secretary for the Democratic Town Committee as well as a full-time teacher. Jamie assisted getting Stockbridge included in a pilot program that will provide on-request transportation service seven days a week. She is a hard worker we can all rely upon.
Planning Board — Kate Fletcher
Kate is an incumbent for Planning Board having already served two terms. She is a life-long resident of Stockbridge and recently received a master's degree in Public Policy from UMass. Kate is extremely knowledgeable about town bylaws and their implications. She previously chaired the Zoning Review Committee and is now Chairperson of the Stockbridge Fountain Committee and a trustee of the Laurel Hill Association. Her vision is to protect and enhance the character and beauty of Stockbridge.
Planning Board — Elisabeth (Lis) Danish Wheeler is also endorsed as a Planning Board candidate. (Remember you can vote for two).
Lis raised her family here. I met Lis years ago when we both attended planning board and other meetings. She was always taking notes, intent on the proceedings and how they would impact the area. We bonded over our shared love for Stockbridge, sense of community, and hopes for its future. We share a commitment to affordable housing so our children, grandchildren, and those who work in Stockbridge can live here. Lis is a Trustee of the Laurel Hill Association, coordinated this year's Earth Day activities and is a longtime board member of Berkshire Lyric Theater. Her knowledge about Stockbridge and sensitivity to the needs of its people will make Lis a wonderful addition to our planning board.
Vote May 17! Learn about the candidates by reading their statements in Stockbridge Updates, the Eagle and the Edge. We hope you will then vote for the candidates endorsed by the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee.
Chairperson, Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee
Barney Edmonds: Vote for Minacci, Fletcher, and Wheeler
We love Stockbridge for its small-town character and natural beauty. We value our open spaces, protected ridge lines ... and our wildlife, woodlands, and waterways. We willingly drive ten minutes out of town when we need a hardware store, or a supermarket, or a new pair of boots. Most of us are perfectly happy with the scale of our charming business district and want to see the rest of town kept as residential and uncrowded as it's always been.
Yet there has been a lot of negative talk about decline. People say: we're shrinking; there are no jobs; no kids; taxes are out of control; everybody's getting old; we need more growth, more development.
In truth, our full-time population is amazingly stable: in 1850 we had 1,941 people and in 2020 we had 2,018. There are plenty of jobs when you count how many of us are self-employed and/or work at home. Our tax rate is one of the lowest in the Berkshires. It's true, we are getting grayer, but so is all of New England ... and most of America.
To combat the scare tactics, we need positive-minded champions. That's why I am voting for Jamie Minacci for Selectwoman and Kate Fletcher and Lis Wheeler for Planning Board. These candidates know how special Stockbridge is because they have lived and worked here for decades. The Democratic Committee endorsed them because they will stand up for our town ... and respect its conservation-minded heritage.
Minacci is a public-spirited advocate eager to engage all residents; Fletcher, with an advanced degree in public policy and many years of Planning Board experience, is deeply committed to climate mitigation; and Wheeler, with her professionally honed listening skills and real estate expertise, is working to find ways to promote more moderate-priced housing.
"I do not want to trade our character, natural resources, and heritage for quick profits for a few. We are unique and we need to preserve what is special here." — Minacci
"Stockbridge has notable cultural and physical legacies. It also has an important legacy of enlightened governance that benefits us all. We need planning board members who are committed to these principles." — Fletcher
"I am passionate about the future of our beautiful town's survival while understanding there are things it lacks such as affordable homes for our children to return to." — Wheeler
Vote for Minacci, Fletcher, and Wheeler on May 17th.
Barney Edmonds, May 10, 2022
Judy Uman: Vote Kate Fletcher for Planning Board
I am a longtime homeowner of Stockbridge Bowl and a neighbor of the Fletcher family. If I could vote, Kate Fletcher would be my person of choice. Thank you for including this letter of support in your wonderful and informative newsletter…A vote to reelect Kate Fletcher to the Stockbridge Planning Board is a vote for dedication to the people and the Town of Stockbridge. I have known Kate and her family for over sixty years. As a young adult Kate would spend her summers walking around the entire Stockbridge Bowl asking homeowners what regulations they felt made sense for the lake. These regulations were ultimately approved at a Town Meeting and have made the Bowl a safer and more pleasant place for all. Since that time Kate has continued to devote herself to the needs of the residents and future of this exceptional paradise, we call Stockbridge.
I have witnessed Kate's dedication to the rules on Zoom, and in person, when I attended Planning Board Meetings the past two years. Her understanding and knowledge of town and state laws governing each issue before the Board were based on study and long experience. She brings a thoughtful, consistent, and nuanced approach to each situation based on the established bylaws of the Board with a thoughtful examination of what might also be the environmental impact of its resolution. A vote for Kate is a vote for Stockbridge.
Erik & Christine Rasmussen: Vote Vogt, McCaffrey
To the readers of Stockbridge Updates:
Please vote to keep Roxanne McCaffrey as our Stockbridge selectman (woman). In her first term, she demonstrated compassionate leadership, working full time on numerous issues. She listens, then proposes solutions like creating an advisory committee to the Selectmen to bring parties concerned about the Bowl together rather than arguing through the courts or publications.
Roxanne leaves her ego at the door as she works for our common good, always keeping her eye on the needs of the town's citizens and our finances. She is sincere and cares for both the town and the needs of its citizens.
With Planning Board members serving five-year terms, this election will shape the town's future for years to come. That is why we're voting for Bill Vogt.
If you drive up Prospect Hill or around the Bowl, you will see a change in our town's character. Our zoning bylaws adopted in the last century require homes to be built on lots of an acre or more fragment land that destroys wildlife habitat because they lack flexibility.
In Joel Russell's Diagnostic Report of our bylaws and the Visioning Sessions, there was overwhelming support for zoning that protects open space/viewsheds and wildlife habitats while allowing for development supported by environmentalists and home builders.
Bill has led the discussion at the Planning Board in implementing these types of changes. We need to vote for him to ensure that residents can discuss enacting a bylaw that will create flexibility during the planning process to provide protections for our town's most vital natural assets, offer more housing options, and address climate change.
Erik & Christine Rasmussen
Bruce Blair: Vote Fletcher, Wheeler, Minacci
We are at a crossroad in Stockbridge town government after our recent era of dabbling in mass housing development ideas and plans for expanded business. Some of our current elected officials do not seem to get that the business of Stockbridge is being Stockbridge. This has been our bread and butter, supporting low tax rates, solid property values, and tourism for at least the last 50 years.
This benefits both us and our neighbors. Our scenic landscapes, and our rich, varied cultural and historic heritage are assets and attractions for the whole region. When some members of our Planning and Select Boards appear to have other ideas for us — and we may not always know what they are doing or why — it is time to think about change.
Electing the right candidates for Planning Board is now more critical than ever. The complexities of planning and permit negotiations have strained our capabilities. Lis Danish Wheeler is a longtime resident with extensive real estate experience, strong commitment to conservation, and a background in mediation, all skills we need as we face these new challenges.
Kate Fletcher is a life-long resident with an advanced degree in public administration, detailed knowledge of and experience with the history and administration of our bylaws, and an advocate for the qualities that make our town unique. Kate and Lis are both committed to open government and can strengthen the expertise and function of the Planning Board.
And finally, Jamie Minacci is the right candidate for Select Board. As we think about the possibility of challenges ahead, it it critical that everyone in town be heard and have a say in the future. Jamie has made this her platform mantra. She has experience, serving as Chair of the Stockbridge Bowl Stewardship Commission, where she has pushed for more transparency, and on the Conservation Committee, as well as various transportation boards. Jamie believes in open government and consensus. And she listens. She wants to hear from all of us so we can act together from common ground.
Yes, it is possible to have this kind of town government in Stockbridge, and Jamie Minacci, Lis Danish Wheeler, and Kate Fletcher can help bring it to us. Be sure to vote on May 17!
Stephen Fradley: Vote McCaffrey, Vogt
As a Stockbridge property owner for the last 44 years I have met and known numerous people who claim to represent the best interests of Stockbridge.
I wish to extend my support to both Roxanne McCaffrey for Selectman and Bill Vogt for Planning Board. They have worked tirelessly for the town, contributing time and effort towards the needs of the citizens.
In particular, I wish to extend a special thanks to Roxanne for her success in reducing our taxes every year since 2019 and to Bill for his commonsense approach regarding the pressures for increased town development.
If their accomplishments of the past are reflective of their future effects, then we are in good hands.
VOTE MAY 17th.
Photo: Patrick White
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Carole Owens, Managing Editor
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