GB Selectboard should resist being bullied

The applicant here is attempting to extort the Select Board by threatening removal of a valuable public resource, Foster’s parking lot.

To the editor:

The Great Barrington Selectboard will consider on May 18 whether to grant a special permit application for a commercial parking lot at 11 School Street. Because the Planning Board found the proposed use contrary to the Master Plan and zoning district, the board unanimously gave the application a negative recommendation.

Ordinarily, one would hope, that would be the end of the matter, but the applicant has threatened to prohibit public access to the former Foster’s parking lot if the application is not granted. While I agree with those that oppose the application due to the loss of community resources (the laundromat and housing), my other concern is the conduct of the negotiations.

As an attorney for more than 30 years, more than a few times I have had to advise clients that there is a good reason the U.S. government does not negotiate with terrorists. The applicant here is attempting to extort the Selectboard by threatening removal of a valuable public resource, Foster’s parking. If the board is going to give in to the applicant’s threat, let’s make sure the Board only faces this Hobson’s Choice once.

If the applicant will grant the Town a permanent easement for public parking access to the Foster’s and proposed School Street lots for night and weekends, then that would be a valuable deal worth considering. What the board should not do is allow the applicant to remain able to use the Foster’s lot for the purpose of some future intimidation. Once is more than enough.

Peter Most

Great Barrington