by Glenn M. Heller
January 16, 2000

Parking in Great Barrington:
Well, we all know there is not enough of it, but that does not relieve present and recent Great Barrington officials of their collective responsibility for the increasingly pressing parking mess in which the town finds itself.

For example, one superior blunder which comes to mind is former Town Manager Joe Kellogg's failure (read: arrogant ineptitude, and by extension the shortsightedness of the Selectmen whom Kellogg represented) in negotiating with the owner of the large parking area beside Harland Foster Hardware so that the public could continue to use that very centrally-located parking facility.

As you might recall, the matter then at issue was snow maintenance.  Incredibly, Kellogg (and the Selectmen) chose to forego the public's being able to continue use of that convenient site rather than arrange for the town to provide plowing and sanding during Winter.

You might recall that this was also the time when the former Taconic Lumber site had just re-opened after having been rehabilitated into parking facilities to service the then new Triplex Cinema complex, along with the shops along Railroad Street.  You might also recall at the time that Mr. Kellogg and the Selectmen were confidently predicting that the new lot would adequately satisfy downtown's foreseeable parking needs.  Talk about DUMB!

Fast Forward to present day.   Can the current crop of town officials learn from this glaring example of lack of foresight?   The answer hopefully is yes.  Since downtown parking once again poses a nagging problem, it is certainly time for town officials to scour downtown and the side streets for prospective parking sites.  (Even small sites on a back street here and there, ideal for use as employee parking and for overflow local customers who know where they are, can relieve parking pressures at main downtown sites.)

Next, town officials should do what is necessary to procure those sites (whether by lease, purchase, or eminent domain), and get on with the business of providing for the infrastructural needs of local businesses and their customers the basis for the economic engine that powers prosperity in South County.

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