As Stockbridge population declines, reach out to millennials

To the editor:

I write because there is an issue in Stockbridge that needs to be addressed this year and not kicked down the road as many serious issues in Berkshire towns are.

Our Stockbridge population is declining with deaths, and is not being supplemented by births or by young people moving into the area. The millennials who were born here moved away to find lucrative work and more “happening” places.

How do we change this? Vermont has a very successful move-to-Vermont incentive grant program called “Remote Worker.” Google it.

More importantly, we in Stockbridge have become part of the Commonwealth’s Community Preservation Act. So what does that mean? Well, a few things.

The dollars the Commonwealth grants annually to the participating towns can be used for a number of things: Open space and recreation investments. Historical preservation, AND, believe it or not, financial incentives to lure first-time homeowners to live here. Who would have known? Evidently no one because those funds (in the case of Stockbridge they exceed $370,000.) have only been applied for by those nonprofits and open-space folks who pay attention.

Also there is a contradiction here in Stockbridge. There is a PILOT program (committee) to negotiate a way of getting those nonprofits who hold major acres of land in town, tax free, to pay something in lieu of taxes. So far they are not successful. But then, what do we do? We vote our nonprofits CPA dollars! This makes little sense to me.

So what can we do? My suggestion is, like Vermont, we have a marketing campaign to announce what we want… more young folks and families. We announce that we have these Community Preservation funds available to them in that campaign and continue the follow-through until it reaps results.

There are those who will say they will never come because there are no jobs. Balderdash! If there are millennials working in metro Boston or New York and they know how to use a computer, email and the phone, they can work from anywhere. Here their kids can go to great schools, and they don’t need to contend with over populated, claustrophobic highways and commuter trains. Here they can have a real family quality of life.

So? Anyone else up for making this happen?

John H. Hart
Stockbridge