Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington, Mass.

Alan Chartock: I Publius

If things are falling to pieces and we citizen-voters sit on our behinds and figure that the folks we have elected know what they are doing, shame on us.

Every once in a while, it’s time to remind your elected public servants of your personal “to-do” list. It’s obvious that many things in the town of Great Barrington are not getting done. If things are falling to pieces and we citizen-voters sit on our behinds and figure that the folks we have elected know what they are doing, shame on us.

So here goes: It really is time to get those bridges repaired. We all know that if we push our vendors to get things done, we can work miracles. People who live in Great Barrington know that we are spending a lot on our taxes. I don’t care, but I want that money spent wisely. We could live next door in Alford and spend a fraction of what we do on taxes here. So decisions have to be made. Fixing the bridges needs to be done, and fast. When the solons of the selectboard respond, they are basically telling us, “No big thing” or “It isn’t that simple.” Well, yes and no. It is simple. It needs to be done and it can be done. If you care about this situation, you’ll add your voice to mine and let your town officials know that you don’t want more whiney excuses. Just get those bridges repaired!

Lake Mansfield is a real treasure and now it’s being beset by weeds, which, at worst, present some health risk and, at best, are just a pain the butt. It’s hard to swim across the lake when these weeds keep getting worse and worse. What to do? Well, we need one of those weed harvesters that they used in the Stockbridge bowl and someone trained to operate it. As the weeds grow, you cut them down. I understand that there will be folks who will offer up all kinds of reasons — from faux science to the expense — not to do this. To them I say, “You mow your lawn, don’t you? When it gets too high, you cut it back.”

Some people say the town spends too much money. I mean, you can expect a request for yet another police patrol car to be tooling around the neighborhood without slowing the speeders on Hollenbeck Avenue. The people of this town are certainly not going to defund the police. But when it comes down to it, choices have to be made. Lake Mansfield is a gem. In this time of COVID-19, it offers everyone a chance for some R and R, be it a swim or just an afternoon of relaxation at the beautiful lake, the character of which changes every day.

It’s our mental health, our children and our leisure that we are talking about. Decisions have to be made about where we are going to spend our money. We need that machine. Right now, our cherished lake is at risk.

Also on the to-do list is that long-discussed plan to combine the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire school districts. They’ve been negotiating for longer than the Democrats and the Republicans in Congress. The last time I wrote on this, chiding the various actors on the Southern Berkshire and the Berkshire Hills school committees for taking their time on this essential move forward, I was taken to task by some people for whom I have great respect. They said I didn’t give everybody enough time to get it right. I suppose that when things go as bad as they are going now, one could always say that the coronavirus is holding things up, and that may be true. Nevertheless, we are spending too much money running the two systems with far fewer students than there used to be. The same egos and pomposity on both committees are much in evidence. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the dollars are being wasted.