Vol. II No. 07 4/1/2021
Reader to Reader—We Got Mail
The Red Lion intersection was created in 1745, and by 1870 was referred to in the Laurel Hill Association minutes as "Monument Square." Over the years, South Street was widened to accommodate "Fountain Park," which had acquired the Cat and Dog Fountain during the Civil War, a gift from Mr. Gourley, whose house hugged the corner of South and Main Street. In 1990, CATS magazine writer Phil Maggitti penned a tongue-in-cheek article about Stockbridge's Cat and Dog Fountain quoting from a 1980 Springfield Republican newspaper article which read, "A 128-year-old landmark stone statue of a cat hissing at a dog, meant to symbolize progress versus preservation, was taken out of storage and set back on the corner of Main Street and Route 7 last week. When asked which animal represented progress and which animal represented preservation, well known cat lover Mary V. Flynn replied, "Why isn't preservation progress?".
My grandmother, Grace Bidwell Wilcox, curator of the Stockbridge Library Historical Room from 1938 to 1968, shared that oral history regarding the fountain with me and suggested it was more about the democratic process in Stockbridge, some hissing and barking, but healthy debate with the best interests of the Town at heart. The island, now the "John & Jane Fitzpatrick Park," has shrunk to about half of its original size to accommodate more recent traffic needs.
I love these snap shots of Stockbridge's past.
I appreciate your coverage in Stockbridge Updates of the recent zoning issues the Planning Board is grappling with. I have dutifully read and worked to understand your reporting on this. I recently also had an opportunity to read consultant Jeff Lacy's answers to various recent Updates' points.
Reading both side by side, I realize that the language of both, while meant to make various points clearer, are in fact, making them harder to understand.
Neither the Updates' points, nor Lacy's answers, give a clear understanding of the underlying questions and possible outcomes of various changes. How will our town be potentially changed by different choices?
Stockbridge Updates is the perfect vehicle for this kind of clarity, so I'm urging you to turn your skills to helping us all understand this important issue better.
Thank you for the kind words. It is the PB's job to explain clearly what they are doing and why. It is SU's job to report it. However, you are one of three letters received asking SU to clarify the issues and the impacts of the four proposed zoning bylaws. SU will do its best starting in this issue (See Editorial and Stockbridge History). SU attends town meetings and reports. SU asks questions, and on occasions, points out countervailing facts. SU will continue to do so, but since requested by readers, in every issue, in the appropriate place, such as the Editorial, SU will try to clarify. Let us know how we are doing, and please remember the most important thing: you, the voters, must approve these Bylaws at Town Meeting. If you do not understand the issue addressed, the bylaw itself, or its impact, vote no. It is not definite; PB can go back to the drawing board and come back before you later with better information.
Thank you and your husband for all the work you do on behalf of Stockbridge.
I moved to Stockbridge in June of 2019, with my amazing dogs, to continue my Cancer treatments. I live on a very historic property. After doing quite a bit of research, I found old deeds and had the Mohican Tribe out, with 2 Archeologists. It has proven that Chief Konkapot had his original homesite here, and Agrippa Hull.
Hull was an African American Revolutionary War hero instrumental in starting West Point Academy. He was also the largest landowner in Stockbridge of African American descent, at the time. I plan on creating a sign in his honor.
Working with the wonderful Conservation Commission, I created a Pocket Park, on a small section of the property in Chief Konkapot's honor. Open for anyone to use and enjoy the beauty of nature there. Read, meditate, launch a kayak and bird watch, etc. I cleared overgrown areas of invasive species. Had an obstruction removed from the Culvert that was trapping turtles and fish, killing them. Catching all debris from upstream and creating floods that didn't need to happen. Since the removal, so much wildlife has returned, as well as the natural migration of that wildlife.
The Mosquito Committee stopped by last year and stated that because all of these corrections were made, the mosquito population has dropped significantly in that area.
During my treatments, I try and keep a positive attitude and create beauty in my yard for others to enjoy. I'm the one that had all the Christmas decorations up, so people had something wonderful to look at during this trying time of the virus.
During the latest winds, several of the large white pines were damaged. They are older, diseased trees. Including a 75-foot dangling treetop. I've had Tree experts come out and I'm also a Master Gardener, with a Masters in Horticulture. We think they are dangerous so I'm taking them out.
I'm not asking the Town to cover the cost of this, since the trees are on the property. I am covering that cost. I plan on amending the soil and putting in Winter Redbud or Chestnut trees.
I look forward to reading more of your newsletters and getting involved in Stockbridge.
Dear Mr. Lawson,
Thank you for writing to Stockbridge Updates. I drive by your pocket park often and I thank you for beautifying Stockbridge. Best wishes for your complete recovery,
BRAVO on your editorial!!!! (Charlie's viewscape of the probable attempted development of the DeSisto property is not complete; the entire presentation should be shown with the development superimposed on topo maps.)
Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope sometime soon you will write a piece about Stockbridge. You have lifelong memories of your hometown.
Best wishes as always,
In your most recent Update, I thought your Editorial addressed the issue of change in a most thoughtful and candid manner. I agree that change, by itself, is not as important as the outcomes and impacts it brings. When it comes to development, I have always preferred a slow, thoughtful, and careful approach which supports the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Stockbridge, literally and figuratively, ain't broke!
Thank you. Always nice to hear from you.
Dear Dr. Owens,
A letter for publication, although in my judgment this should be a story.
Although Stockbridge Update has run many stories about the Bowl and SBA (Stockbridge Bowl Association), it hasn't yet informed its readers about one development in the relationship between the Bowl, the SBA, and the Town that I hope would reassure its readers about SBA's earnest wishes for a constructive relationship with the Town in facilitating the best use of that remarkable town asset. After receiving the award of attorney fees you did report, following its successful effort to eliminate unwarranted town resistance to its longstanding plans for Bowl improvements, the SBA advised the Town administrator that it would dedicate the whole of that award, $19,000, to the planned improvements at the Town Beach. It said that it would donate the money as those expenses were incurred. To date the Town has not asked it to surrender any of the funds, but the Berkshire Eagle, for which you so often write about Town matters, had a major story about this, calling it a settlement of previous differences. Shouldn't it be in Stockbridge Updates?
I'd be much happier if you yourself included this story in your next edition, but if not, please print this letter in your letter's column.
Peter Strauss, SBA Board member
Dear Mr. Strauss,
Thank you for your letter and for informing SU readers of SBA's "earnest wishes for a constructive relationship with the town." I hope others who work with SBA will write and confirm that that was their experience.
You make the point that you would like SU to "write a story about SBA." Unfortunately, Stockbridge Updates can't because, except in the editorial, SU only reports. SBA has no open board meetings and does not post minutes so SU cannot report on SBA regularly and has no way of knowing SBA decisions, attitudes, or planned activities. SU will report on any meeting SBA makes public.
During the lawsuit that SBA brought against the Town, there were court proceedings and public documents about which SU could and did report. In addition, when SBA members attend public meetings, SU reports their attendance and contribution.
In the meanwhile, if you wish to report on SBA activities, please write an article for SU. Many do and all are printed. An article from SBA might help to counterbalance other voices (See SB meeting). Again, thank you for your letter. SU looks forward to an ongoing communication.