Vol. III No. 1 1/1/2022
By Bruce Blair
This year, Updates Editor Carole Owens wrote a spirited editorial about management issues related to our lake, the Stockbridge Bowl, which is owned by the state and belongs to us all. Soon after, Selectboard member Roxanne McCaffrey and Stockbridge Bowl Association (SBA) President Pat Kennelly responded in the Berkshire Eagle, assuring us all that the town and the SBA got along fine and were working well together, contrary to what Owens had suggested.
Now, thanks to a concerned resident's Freedom of Information request, we have a copy of a letter (click here) sent to the State Department of Environmental Protection from the SBA's lawyer shortly after the McCaffery/Kennelly press release. I'm not a lawyer, but here is what I read. The SBA, a private non-profit agency, asked for a private meeting directly with the state DEP regarding their plans to treat weeds in the lake with chemicals. It references two prior lawsuits the SBA filed against the town, which the SBA won. And it seems to indicate that the town is not included in the project and need only be notified so as not to interfere.
Assuming I have this right, it looks like the SBA and the town have not been working well together, and may barely be working together at all, despite the existence of a town-appointed advisory Stewardship Commission for the lake. And, a previously longstanding practice of having the town and the state governments manage this public property together, not SBA, a private nonprofit.
Not only did Updates get this story right, but the McCaffrey/Kennelly press release was misleading. It makes no mention of what was clearly already happening. The SBA is managing the lake via legal actions.
I understand that a judge decided that the SBA lawyers were the winners here. Still, we did not elect the SBA, a private nonprofit, to represent us. Their tax filings are public information, if you want to know more about them. You may also want to know more from some town officials on this matter. What happened to the state/town partnership to maintain our lake?
Town officials need to be transparent in real time about such matters. I cannot help feeling disenfranchised here. After 50 years of enjoying and supporting the Bowl, I am saddened to feel like it is passing into private hands.
Justin from the Highway Dept. creating the new Town Beach driveway. Photo: Patrick White