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Ed Abrahams
Jasmine Stine, who volunteered to landscape the grounds of the Great Barrington Police Department.

Notes, footnotes & queries

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By Friday, Aug 15, 2014 Life In the Berkshires 2

When Selectman Ed Abrahams was elected to his first term on the Great Barrington Selectboard back in May, he said that one of his first tasks was to introduce himself to town employees and to find out what they might need.

At the Police Department, Abrahams told me, Police Chief William Walsh said he would love to see some landscaping around police headquarters sometime to make the grounds there more attractive — something that wasn’t a high priority in his yearly budget.

As it turns out, Abrahams had a young Great Barrington woman, Jasmine Stine, doing some landscaping for him at his home on Pleasant Street next to the library, and he asked her if she’d be willing to do a little volunteer work for the town.

She said she would be glad to, and went to work.

“She used some mulch that Joe Sokul [Superintendent of Public Works] provided from the town’s supply,” Abrahams said. “There was no red tape and it was an effective way to get it done. And it cost a few hundred bucks, maybe.”

He pointed out, however, that town needs more volunteers to fill committee posts. Among them, two members for the Cultural Council, one for the energy committee, three for the Parking Task Force, One for the Historic District Commission, and my favorite – the one I might volunteer for – fence viewer. If the urge to volunteer and serve the community strikes your fancy, email a letter of interest to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin: jtabakin@townofgb.org. For a complete list of openings, click here.

On Main Street the other day, I stopped to chat with Town Planner Chris Rembold. We were reflecting on the transformation of the downtown landscape, once the Main Street Reconstruction Project has had its way. In particular, we were musing over what could be done to mitigate the lack of shade for sidewalks after the Bradford pear trees are taken down and replaced with 81 saplings of various species. After all, it is the canopy of leaves that make the Main Street sidewalks of Great Barrington – cracked and uneven as they are – so companionable.

Umbrellas shelter diners at Castle Street Cafe. They could also shelter visitors to the new Main Street benches (once they're installed when the reconstruction project is completed). And yes, that's Alan Kalish at table.

Umbrellas shelter diners at Castle Street Cafe. They could also shelter visitors to the new Main Street benches (once they’re installed when the reconstruction project is completed). And yes, that’s Alan Kalish at table.

We came up with the idea of umbrellas for the new benches that will grace the Main Street walkways – unbrellas similar to the ones that Michael Ballon uses for his alfresco tables at his Castle Street café.

These would be distinctive, unusual, one-of-a-kind umbrellas, we imagined. Ones whose surfaces would be created by local artists, just as Michael Thomas et al constructed unique trash receptables for downtown.

Any artists out there willing to help out? Could we have a Main Street Umbrella Design Contest?

For the historically minded, the Town Players of Pittsfield are putting on a staged reading of Jesse Waldinger’s “Mum Bett’s Minute,” at the Ashley House on Cooper Hill Road in Ashley Falls, Saturday August 16 at 3 p.m. (Additional performances will take place August 21, at 5:30 and 7 p.m., at the Whitney Center for the Arts on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield – part of the Third Thursday celebration.)

“Mum Bett’s Minute” tells the story of how in 1781 Bett, then a slave, sued for her freed, on the basis of the newly framed Massachusetts Constitution, that proclaimed all men (and women) are born free and equal. The play focuses on Bett’s reaction when she learns of the jury’s decision. The cast includes Marla Robertson, Jonathan Slocum and Andrew Joffe.

The empty and chained-off Wheeler and Taylor parking lot on a weekend, as seen from the Berkshire Co-op parking lot.

The empty and chained-off Wheeler and Taylor parking lot on a weekend, as seen from the Berkshire Co-op parking lot.

And finally, talk about parking – and lack of it — is all the rage in Great Barrington, as the town hunkers down for the Main Street Reconstruction storm that is about to break. So with the town facing a reduction in parking spaces – and when construction is in full swing, it will affect access to parking both during the week and on weekends – why is it that Wheeler and Taylor has chained off its big parking lot that for so many years was available on weekends?

 

 


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2 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Laury Epstein says:

    I really enjoy this type of news summary. Hope you do it often.

  2. Honey Sharp says:

    I love the idea of umbrellas to form a kind of canopy on Main St. What about old fashioned canopies one sees in southern France that are cranked out on hot sunny days?

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