Vol. II No. 04 2/15/2021
Thoughts on Stockbridge
by Bob Jones
Writing as a former Stockbridge resident who lived in town for eighteen years, worked in town (my wife is still employed at the Austen Riggs Center), served in Town Government, volunteered, and enjoyed (still do) a circle of friends who are cherished and irreplaceable, I love Stockbridge. Born and raised in Great Barrington, school districts merged in 1967 and I was exposed to Stockbridge families and new friends. Retiring in 2019, circumstances landed us in Lee. So it goes.
Stockbridge is special. There, I've said it. There is a character, a soul, a certain serenity that comes with living there. Stockbridge is the small town that every other small town wants to be. Accolades and awards from around the country are bestowed on an annual basis:
"Most Beautiful Town... Prettiest Winter Town... Best Christmas Town... Most Festive Town... Most Charming Small Town in America (hard to top that one). Everybody wants to visit Stockbridge. A Stockbridge Zip Code is a goal for many home buyers. Let's be clear on at least one thing. This didn't happen by accident.
Stockbridge, for those who want to see it, is a way of life. Founders and subsequent generations created this. We became the beneficiaries of their care and prudence. There has been an unspoken, mutual agreement for years, that Stockbridge, its architecture, its history, its open space, its community involvement in preserving all of it, is essential to its healthy future. It needs to be maintained.
Some extoll concepts like economic development, property rights, lowering the tax rate, new business... valid concerns. Certainly necessary considerations for making policy in a small town. But not the only concerns.
A recurring question for me: If it ain't broke, why fix it? Given the evidence of the Town's healthy economy, the desire of so many to visit here and buy homes here, how much change should we be contemplating? Changes, particularly in zoning and use, can radically affect the nature and ambience of a beautiful small town. Not overnight, but incrementally. I ask my friends and former neighbors to be highly cognizant of this fact when pondering any planning proposal on a Town Warrant. Remember what those before us gave us. A gift. A gift that is fragile, precious and needs to be nourished and maintained. It is our responsibility to do the same for the next generation.