Vol. III No. 10 5/15/2022
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