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Ed Abrahams for Selectman in Great Barrington

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By Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Letters 2

To The Edge:

We support Ed Abrahams for Selectmen in Great Barrington and urge you to vote for him.

Ed has been involved in local affairs including being a Library Trustee and attending the many local meetings concerning the Main Street project.

Ed has raised his children in GB who have been attending our public school system and is ever present and involved with the schools and their activities.

Ed has a strong background in budgeting and how to get the best value for public dollars.

Ed is a local property owner and taxpayer who is very concerned about our ever rising property taxes that we are experiencing.

Craig & Annie Okerstrom-Lang

Great Barrington

2 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Christopher Owen AIA Architect says:

    Today, October 27th, I’m again reading the ongoing controversy with regard to the Searles School. The most recent offer to buy the property, presumably to save the existing building. Are we sure this is now possible, and does the resultant use create the much wished for increased taxes. If so this is certainly our best solution.
    In the meantime the suggestion that the present hotel be turned 90 degrees so that it faces the River will virtually require starting from scratch and probably now not possible. However this would become an important step for the correct classification of being a boutique hotel which certainly and currently it is not!. Rather, it’s no more than a box building decorated on its south facade to resemble The Red Lion Inn. A student in any, and I emphasize any, architectural school would fail were this current solution presented to a jury. Even a 1st year undergraduate student could do better.
    What should have been done as a first step by the Town is to review the work of the current developers and their architect(s). Initially this could have easily been accomplished, despite hearing them say that they are “experts” having completed several similar projects. This certainly does not guarantee satisfactory result as we readily see. After that the Planning Board, with a qualified architect as a member, discuss and implement a program which includes the most important and essential wishes now cited by the majority. This program emphasized to the owner and developer.
    In no particular order the Planning Board and along with the community’s input would hopefully agree on the following:

    We are desirous of a “boutique” hotel, preferably saving the existing structure in its entirety or in part. We wish to take full advantage of the East and its unique views. We very much desire that the final structure appears comfortably in character with our historic Center, taking into consideration scale and materials . Not one of these points is part of or included in what has essentially become the final solution. What has been presented is a box building with a faux facade appearing as the principal entrance. It faces a noisy playing field and absolutely nothing else to encourage guests to sit on its porch. The east and clearly the the best view is occupied by the guest and service drive as well as the parking lot entry. Most strange and certainly the greatest surprise of all is the north facade which is the principal and ONLY entrance for arriving guests and overlooks a vast parking lot. Having taught fifth year architectural design at City College in NYC for some time, these facts alone would fail even a 1st year architectural student by all design critics!

    My suggestion: Let us now look at the some of the revisions which should be requested and hopefully implemented by the developer and their architect(s). These not at an unreasonable cost.

    1: Bring the entrance around to the south facade and centered, keeping the porch, slightly elevated, and hopefully increasing its ceiling height. Its roof, which can be flat would now
    be roughly 3′ above the second level’s floor. Their existing window sills can be somewhat raised if, necessary. In front of the porch, hopefully somewhat deeper providing increased comfort
    for guests, at its extreme east and west ends would be the handicap ramp starting and rising up to the central stair landing. Low landscaping at its face and lawn beyond to the front of Bridge
    The north side of Bridge Street to be planted with a wall of evergreen trees or arborvitae thus concealing traffic and the sports field. The lawn would now be a pleasant place for deck chairs,
    croquet, etc..

    2. In order to lower the overall apparent and unacceptable height of the building the top floor from its base to rooftop now be changed appearing as a mansard roof. It having a shallow
    pitch back and faced with shingles. Slate would be best but unfortunately too expensive so faux slate unnoticeable as it’s too far from the ground. The windows would remain but now
    appearing as dormers. Between the raised porch and the dropped roof the building’s scale would appear much reduced thus preferable. The porch could easily carry around to the north,
    In order to keep the face of the building where it is, the porch could be narrower and set into the present building’s face. This added to the necessary modifications due to the reversed entry.
    narrower if necessary. It is also possible to lengthen the added north porch with a solid backing once at the parking lot, thereby creating seating and views towards the River. If this is
    implemented along with a central entry into the building surely the floors above could be extended north as well aligning with the porch extension. This resulting in additional guest rooms
    facing the River.

    3: Site planning to be discussed in part with only the important issues addressed here. Number 1: The oak tree to remain! Given the size of the property and S. E. corner location of the tree
    there is simply no valid reason that it has to be removed. Number 2: Trees added to the rear parking lot helping to conceal it and the cars as best possible for the benefit of all, including
    especially the guest rooms facing north. Number 3: A line of evergreen trees or arborvitae along Railroad Street to conceal it and the playing field beyond. Number 4: For a modest saving
    change the faux granite wall to concrete block covered by ivy which will remain green year round. A far more attractive look.

    Finally my congratulations to Ed Abrahams for his current letter clarifying the issues we’ve been dealing with and most important the avenues available to us hopefully in order to implement improvements.

    Christopher Owen AIA Architect

  2. Grace says:

    Are we seriously thinking of housing on unclean soil near the sewer plant?? I think the black mold in the flag rock housing is an issue that the state needs to solve before any other low income housing is put into this town. Many months ago I attended a board of health meeting at the town hall, to my knowledge this problem still exist. Are we going allow more housing to be erected and cause more health issues for our children. Where are our state officials that we elected to solve this problem??? Grace

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