Vol. IV No. 16 8/15/2023
Division: How to Do It; How to Undo It
By Carole Owens
At the Select Board/Second Homeowners meeting, July 27, 2023, second homeowners made a point of how divisive they thought Select Board member Patrick White is. White did not stand mute, and it became uncomfortable for some to watch.
The second homeowners were referring to two policy initiatives introduced by White: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) for primary homeowners only and the Residential Tax Exemption (RTE). Apparently second homeowners considered both purposefully divisive and unfair benefitting primary homeowners to the disadvantage of second homeowners.
At the Stockbridge Bowl Association meeting, White suggested installing the sewer around Stockbridge Bowl. Since a majority of lake dwellers are second homeowners, and the cost of the sewer will be prohibitive, installation lake-wide will exhaust resources to the benefit of second homeowners and to the disadvantage of locals without sewer.
Even as the second homeowners expressed negative views of White, they articulated their wish for all of us to come together. We all want that. How do we do it?
Maybe second homeowners could ease the personal criticism. Read the data collected by Affordable Housing Trust and reported at the Planning Board above. We are not alike. We differ in needs, wants, and abilities. Start with an acknowledgement of our differences, and a realization of how, therefore, what serves one group may not serve the other. Imagine for a moment the difficulty of White's job - governing (and pleasing) a nonhomogeneous group.
Maybe White will ease announcing his ideas as if they were perfect in every way, and their perfection leaves no room for disagreement. Maybe that is not the very best first step if the desire is to build consensus. Maybe establishing the worth of an idea is a goal not an introduction.
Maybe RTE will help us build a stronger more diverse community - help the old to stay and the young to move in. Or maybe, the old want to cash out and the young need jobs to move in. Maybe one village cannot do it all; maybe it takes an area-wide approach. To reach the answer takes a conversation — not pronouncements. Maybe pleasing one group or the other is not the goal at all. Maybe the goal is to accept each other, our differences, and with our varying skills, determine what is best not for one over the other but for the Town as a whole.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne