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Alan Chartock: I Publius — a bridge too far

Our bridges are dropping like flies. The whole thing has gotten ridiculous.

Not that long ago, there was a scheduled shutdown in New York City on one of the most popular subway lines from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again, relied on by hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. There was hell to pay. People cried, they clenched their fists and they let their elected officials know in no uncertain terms how disgusted they were. Just as the great shut down was about to happen, two experts came forward and said that they had a better way. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, desperate to find a way out of the mess, took up their offer and the day was saved.

Why am I telling you this story? It’s obvious that the people of the South Berkshires and Great Barrington in particular have a similar problem. Our bridges are dropping like flies. The whole thing has gotten ridiculous. The great Taft Farms could literally be put out of business because the bridge over Division Street that so many of us depend on is down, and that’s only for starters. Look, I don’t mind that we in Great Barrington have to pay a lot in taxes. We choose to live here. The problem lies in a lack of creative thinking. If there was another way with that subway line in the big city, there HAS to be some creative solution to the infrastructure problem in Great Barrington. We elect the selectpersons who sit around week after week and discuss stuff, but now they are failing us. They blindly “tsk-tsk” and attempt to shut down creative thinking on their board and don’t look for ways to open the bridges that are down all over town.

I don’t have the solution but I do know that they have to figure this out. Maybe someone who is reading this column has the answer. We aren’t the only ones dealing with this — it’s happening all over the country. We are lacking creative thinking. It’s time for the selectpersons to get off their collective duffs and make this happen. What has happened to Taft Farms is a disgrace. We should all make it our business to get over there. I hope that the selectboard can fix this mess, which can only be described as malfeasance. Maybe it is time for some new selectpersons.

One can only marvel at the menagerie that is running around our towns. On our lot alone we see the bobcat, the fox, the squirrels, the coyote, the bear, the woodchuck, the possums and the skunks. We not only put up with them and they with us, but we welcome them and rely on them to be civil toward us if we are civil toward them, right? On my walk around Lake Mansfield, I’m pretty sure that I saw the bobcat cross the road. I’ll get criticized for this, but I looked at the ground and there was a big branch that had fallen off a tree. I picked it up and it served as a walking stick and, frankly, as a potential defensive weapon. In fact, all the advice about bears is that if you are confronted by one (something that almost never happens), you might have to make a lot of noise and in rare, rare cases, make a fight of it. Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid such confrontation and never, ever mess with Mama Bear’s cubs.

Finally, this week I like to think that I’m emotionally from Missouri, the “show me” state. We are being told once more that the combining of the two local school districts is moving ahead. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. There’s lot of space between lip and cup. The people want it. It is good for the kids and it’s the intelligent thing to do.


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