To the Editor:
As a long time member/owner of the Berkshire Co-op (back to Rosseter Street), I am concerned about the design of the new Co-op Store and the associated development. (There is so much demanding our time and attention right now it is hard to remember that this project is very much in need of community input.)
The project as it stands has several significant flaws. It will greatly change the look of the entrance to the southern end of downtown Great Barrington. The proposed design is not in character with Great Barrington, and the materials are not likely to be the type of long lasting and/or low environmental impact materials that are ideal.
Most importantly, this looks like a big supermarket store. The design does not incorporate the concept of a community gathering place, one of the essential functions of the Co-op. It is not just a place to buy food, but in fact a vital community center. The developers appear to have made some “nods” to gathering places or outdoor tables, (who wouldn’t want to have a lunch meeting next to a loading dock?) but they don’t really seem to comprehend the role the Co-op plays in the lives of its members, customers, and the town. There is a lot of asphalt in this design.
The Co-op Board of Directors and the General manager Daniel Esko, really need to hear concerns from the community and especially from the Co-op owners, whose voices will be taken seriously. We want and need a new Co-op. I am in favor of development in the Berkshires, but development that makes sense and serves the needs of the community, retains the character of the various towns, and continues to attract the visitors to the Berkshires who are so vital to our economy. It is a developer’s job to create development that meshes well with the character of the area, meets the needs of the community, and is functional. Benchmark needs to go back to the drawing board on this. This project as it stands meets few of those needs.
Here are the previous Edge articles that show the plans and renderings: