Vol. I No. 06 10/18/2020
Town News — October 21, 2020
Notes from the Select Board Meeting
Michael Blay, Stockbridge Assessor, provided the select board with the state-mandated Tax Classification hearing. The select board left the tax classification the same, but expressed a willingness to consider a residential exemption once the required software updates are in place in one year and after public hearings to discuss the pluses and minuses of shifting the tax burden away from the most vulnerable in town.
Each year, prior to the mailing of 3rd quarter tax billings, the Board of Selectmen holds a public hearing to determine the percentage of the town's property tax levy to be borne by each major property class. This responsibility and procedure are described in Chapter 4, Section 56 of the Massachusetts General Laws.
The Select Board opened a discussion on whether to allow trick or treating and continued the topic until next Thursday.
Notes from the Planning Board
A quick calculation of money allocated for zoning review, Bylaw revision and planning is as follows:
$15,760 for the Joel Russell diagnostic report (the last issue of Stockbridge Updates gave the web address to find and review this report)
$ 9,240 for a professional revision of the Cottage Era Bylaw (Is this available to voters?)
$ 3,500 for the Randall Arendt presentation "Open Space Residential Development" (Scheduled for November — see below)
$25,000 for a planner from Berkshire Regional Planning (Is this a duplication of work already completed and paid for?)
$15,000 for a new professional revision of the Cottage Era Bylaw (Is this duplicative?)
Planning Board will present "Open Space Residential Design" with Randall Arendt on November 5, 2020 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Information about joining the meeting should be found at www.townofstockbridge.com under Planning Board.
As reported in the last issue of Stockbridge Updates $3500 was approved for this presentation.
The barn at Gould Meadows: time to focus on renovation?
Notes from Parks and Recreation Commission
Oversees all parks in town as well as tennis courts and the town beach. The belt of open space, waterways, and parks offer a warm welcome to Stockbridge.
In general, it is the commission's job to maintain the areas. Specifically, suggestions before the commission are to:
Move the canoe launch from the river (at Park Street) to the Stockbridge Bowl (at the dam) to be used for kayak and canoe launch. The land by the dam is owned by the town and has room for parking.
The Park Street launch was damaged by ice last winter causing $6000/damage. The river level was too low this year to install the launch platform. Under consideration is installing a stone launch at Park Street.
Repair playground equipment in town and replace sand at Averic Road playground
Work necessary at town beach and repairs to kayak rack.
Apply for and use stabilization funds for continued upkeep and improved access
If you have any concerns, questions, or suggestions for this commission, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Horses grazing on Prospect Hill.
Notes from the Board of Health
by Charlie Kenny MD, Chair
Recently, the Tri-Town Health Department organized a meeting of the chairs of the three town boards of health, the chiefs of police, and the town managers/administrators, to discuss the upcoming traditions of Halloween. It was decided that all three boards of health should convene to discuss the holiday and put forth a consensus opinion to the select boards of the towns.
The public meeting, available on CTSB-TV, took place October 13 evening. All members of the three boards were present, along with Tri-Town Health Department and Lee/Lenox town manager.
One board member was "on the fence." She thought children had been deprived of enough socialization already by Covid-19 and that adding disappointment about Halloween might not be justifiable. On the other hand, one by one, each of the other 8 board members expressed concerns about the risks of the event. The infectious disease specialist-physician thought the event would spread the contagion. All other members of the boards were clearly against the traditional holiday for similar reasons. They did not wish to place children in harm's way. They noted that cases were increasing almost everywhere in places where they had once been contained. They worried that the more important socialization experience for children, education in schools, would be jeopardized by the risks incumbent in a comparatively frivolous and transient experience. It was thought that town managers could formulate alternative activities that would be much more Covid-19 compatible.
Perhaps the most telling argument came from Director Jim Wilusz, RS. He noted that the CDC had concluded that traditional door-to-door trick or treating was a high-risk activity. He observed that significant capital and manpower expenditures by the department had helped to minimize the impact of the Covid-19, so far. He added that, absent a cure or protective vaccine, the weapons the health department had against the epidemic were public education about the disease, encouraging masks, social distancing and self-isolation, case identification through testing, quarantine, and contact tracing. The last of these, contact tracing, would be significantly undermined by traditional door-to-door trick or treating. He thought that, as a public education effort, a consensus opinion by the three boards of health and the health department should be sent to the select boards of the three towns.
The 9 members of the boards of health of Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge voted unanimously to strongly discourage and cancel traditional door-to-door trick or treating and to send that message formally to the select boards and town managers.
Other agenda items included upcoming influenza vaccine clinics and the shortage of needles for the injections, due to federal pre-emptive purchasing for anticipated Covid-19 vaccine administrations. Tri-Town would be learning more about cell tower issues in an upcoming seminar.
Bicycling past the Town Beach.