Vol. II No. 15 8/1/2021
Welcome to Stockbridge Updates Town Square — The gatherings in the Town Square of old were vibrant and informal. The discussions were the stuff of our nation's history. We can replicate it here in our local — very local — newspaper Stockbridge Updates. There are issues before us that would benefit from community discourse. Weigh in.
Under discussion topic on the Town Square: What do folks want to do with the Curtisville Bridge? At the last SB meeting, Chair McCaffrey said it was "up to the Select Board", however, it is up to the SB to propose and the Town Meeting to approve. Before the Town Meeting the vote, the public is weighing in on the Town Square.
From Paul and Lenore Sundberg: We support the creation of a wooden pedestrian bridge on top of the new steel utility bridge recently constructed next to the Curtisville Stone Bridge. We would also like to see wooden fencing installed to replace the chain link fences. Having a pedestrian walkway at that location is especially important for our neighborhood now that construction is soon to begin on the first Averic Rd. bridge. We understand that during that construction, there will no pedestrian access from Rt. 183 to Averic Rd., a favorite walking place for residents and visitors. Due to the limits on Averic Rd., we feel that reopening the Curtisville Stone Bridge to pedestrians is essential and should be completed as soon as possible. It will be well utilized and much appreciated by the many walkers in Interlaken.
The next question which needs to be addressed is the possible replacement of the Curtisville Stone Bridge. We feel that it is ill-advised to reopen the bridge to vehicular traffic. Replacement will be very costly, and the intersection of Interlaken Cross Rd. and Rt. 183 has been the site of serious and fatal accidents. It is a difficult intersection due to the curve just north on Rt.183, and the tendency of drivers to exceed the speed limit. Restoration of this bridge is a subject which townspeople should consider and discuss, and further study is needed. After study and discussion, the Selectmen should offer a proposal to be voted on at Town Meeting. We are in favor of making it a pedestrian-only bridge. Eliminating vehicular traffic will save lives at that intersection and will protect the structural integrity of this historic dry stone construction bridge which cannot handle the weight of heavy trucks. We hope to see progress soon on resolving these bridge issues.
From Rena Zurofsky: This letter is written in support of the one written by Paul and Lenore Sundberg for the last issue. The Town continues to fail the Interlaken section in a very big way. The closure of the historic bridge to walking traffic is not defensible. In putting in the new incredibly unsightly, and obviously cheapest solution for the sewer system, the town used large machines which perched together on the bit of pavement now unavailable to walkers and bicyclists. We can fight in the future about what the town has done to local property values by closing three bridges — for many years — in one neighborhood as well as erecting the ugliest fences and making quick fixes.
The fourth bridge, at 102 and 183, is at least being addressed. What we need now is a way to walk safely in our own neighborhood, where the new iron link fencing prevents us. This area of 183 is incredibly dangerous with an S-curve on which virtually no one slows down, no shoulder, no signs reminding people to go slow or warning of pedestrians. We used to have a short sprint on 183 at life risk, but closing this bridge leaves many of us on the full range of dangers this road presents.
The Park bridges present less danger as closed over these past 5 years? But they still disrupt the flow of community.
This neighborhood has been walking together for the two decades I've lived here, and some of
our neighbors in their 90s have been walking it for many decades more. The powers in Stockbridge are destroying our historic beauty as well as our safety and convenience and turning their backs on this entire community. We want practical and attractive solutions. They must be out there. With the $500K Covid money, some fixes could be found for this well-used yet clearly neglected section of the town. And even without that money, at very minimum a walking path could be restored.
From Misha Forrester: I would like to add my agreement to Paul and Lenore Sundberg on the recent closing of the Curtisville Stone Bridge at Interlaken Cross to passenger traffic.
The fencing is an eyesore, and the closing constrains anybody from safely walking to and from Interlaken Cross. Now we have to rely on walking Route 183 to Trask Lane which is a risk, leaving one vulnerable as there is no safe shoulder strip to walk on. And Rte183 requires vigilance now but is prohibitive in the winter. Metal guard rails act as a buffer for the racing cars taking the curve in the road, and even if one were to climb over the guardrails there's no safe space to walk.
There is also no place available to park on Interlaken Cross in which to begin a walk. A year ago we could still walk over the Curtisville Bridge directly from our front doors as there was a small walkway available. To expect people to get in their cars to drive to another neighborhood where it's safer to walk increases pedestrian pressure on that neighborhood.
We have four places in Interlaken barricaded, all within a mile.
- Interlaken Cross/Curtisville Bridge — CLOSED
- Interlaken Fire Department -concrete blocks preventing parking
- Averic Road Bridge — CLOSED
- Rte 183/Rte 102 — CLOSED
What was once a congenial neighborhood environment is becoming estranged, and precarious, with detours everywhere we turn. Can the Curtisville Stone Bridge be at least liberated to foot traffic as it has been for decades?
A reader, Anita Schwerner, suggests a topic for the Next Town Square: What are people's opinions about continuing to have a remote option for all Stockbridge board, committee and commission meetings?
It's my opinion that a remote option is necessary if we want to have an informed electorate. It's not always possible physically or logistically to attend in person whether you live here full or part-time. Second homeowners who attended the July 15 select board meeting expressed their appreciation of being able to participate remotely and their desire to have it continue. The minutes of a meeting don't provide enough information to understand what was said in a timely manner.
Most town public bodies are already holding hybrid meetings that enable attendance in person as well as remotely via Zoom.
It's debatable whether remote access is required by law or just desired by town citizens. I've had many emails and calls about whether or not Governor Baker's June 16th extension means that it is necessary to provide remote access. Some interpret the first part of the law to mean that a remote option is not required if the meeting is held in person and the public can attend.
However, the second part requires a remote option for committee members. It states: "Second, the new law authorizes all members of a public body to continue participating in meetings remotely; the Open Meeting Law's requirement that a quorum of the body and the chair be physically present at the meeting location remains suspended."
Since a remote option is required for committee members, why wouldn't the town also provide remote access for the public? Our select board gets to decide on this so please share your opinion.
I hope for a lively discussion in Town Square. Town Square provides a really interesting forum for discussion. Thank you.
Although I am the chairperson of the Stockbridge Democratic Town Committee, I am writing this as a private citizen.
Photo: Nathan Hayward