Monday, July 23, 2012
Main Street Massacree Redux*
A late 19th century photo of Main Street and Railroad Street in Great Barrington. Note that the trees are taller than the buildings - 306 Main Street, the brick building in the photo, still exists. It is approximately the height of the other loft buildings now on Main Street.That's the way Main Street should be, but most of the trees recommended by massDOT will never approach that size. Many were small ornamentals, planted far apart. (Click on the photo for a larger view)
A COMMENT from me @ Streetsblog, responding to a resident of Great Barrington,
Yes, you're right. The Town Board members are all trying to do what's best for the town. I met with one of them and had a great conversation.
The first point is that they are taking advice from professionals who have a professional bias towards cutting down old trees and replacing them with different trees. Their criteria for what to do is not based on placemaking. The Town Board wants Main Street to be the best place it can be, but there is a natural tendency to trust the professionals advising you.
If you understand that your consultants are giving you advice based on criteria that leads to different results than the ones you want, then your decisions can change.
Second, Departments of Transportation all across the country have developed a phenomenal ability to procure funding and to spend it as they want. Witness the Big Dig. Main Street is not the Big Dig, but neither is it the best way to spend money on the improvement of Main Street. And we are in a time when Massachusetts is short of money.
For a traditional New Englander, the sidewalks ain't broke. The mature trees are important for the economic well being of the Main Street merchants (Railroad Street doesn't need trees, because it is much narrower and a well-contained, comfortable space) and for the creation of a place where citizens want to gather. With different priorities than massDOT's, the replacement trees could be phased in over time.
This isn't an attack on Great Barrington. It's an appreciation of the virtues of its Main Street from someone who has dealt with DOTs all of the country. And one thing I've heard from people in Great Barrington is how much they dislike massDOT's work in other parts of the state. Lenox comes up a lot, and now there's an uproar on Martha's Vineyard, now that they see the results.
* The Alice's Restaurant Massacree began at a Thanksgiving dinner at Alice's house in Great Barrington. Her restaurant was in Stockbridge, just a half a mile from the railroad tracks.
AN HISTORIC photo of Main Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. There is a larger version here, along with archival information.
Hi - I am looking for photos of Great Barrington for a new branch of TD bank and found these photos on your blog. I see where the second latern slide came from, but would you mind sharing the source of your first posted image of Main Street?
Posted by: Michelle at Aug 20, 2012 10:11:14 AM