Vol. I No. 08 11/13/2020
What the Founders Had in Mind
It is hard to understand how litigation is part of a constructive effort on behalf of Stockbridge Bowl. It is equally hard to understand the basis of the litigation. Both the town and the Stockbridge Bowl Association (SBA) have the same mandate with respect to the Bowl.
SBA has a long and distinguished history.
It began in 1946 with a letter to the editor from Dr. Anson Phelps Stokes about "protecting Stockbridge Bowl." Stokes "took the liberty" of suggesting 14 necessary steps "as one whose family held property on Stockbridge Bowl for about 60 years."
In 1893, the Stokes family built Shadowbrook on a rise above the lake. Their property extended to the lake shore.
In his letter, Stokes suggestion number 11 was "the possible advisability of establishing a Stockbridge Bowl Association to protect the interests of residents and the general public concerned about preserving the charm of the Bowl."
The first meeting of SBA was held October 1946. Stokes presided. The first motion before the association was "to insure its purity." It passed unanimously.
The founding purpose of SBA is almost identical to the Conservation Commission's purpose. "By 1957, General Law Chapter 40 §8C — the Conservation Commission Act — enabled municipalities to establish conservation commissions...The duties and responsibilities of a conservation commission...is protection of a community's natural resources." (Fuller details of founding and purpose of the Conservation Commission can be found in SU Issue 5)
Hard to imagine how two entities with the same goal ended in one suing the other rather than ending with a cooperative plan made in the best interests of Stockbridge Bowl.
At the SBA Annual Meeting 2018, President Richard Seltzer assured the attendees that at the same time SBA submits its Notice of Intent (to use herbicides in the lake), SBA will prepare an adversarial document. That is, if SBA does not like the decision of the Stockbridge Conservation Commission, Health Department or Select Board, it will sue to override that decision. "And." Seltzer said, "SBA will win."
Perhaps that explains it. Now we just have to ask: is this really winning?
Carole Owens, Managing Editor
Stockbridge Bowl Sunset last week. Photo by Joan Gallos