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Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Margaret Kerswill (left) and Laureen Vizza in front of their Main Street shop, Mutability in Motion.

When Margaret Kerswill talks about her favorite part of the town of Stockbridge, she doesn’t mention a restaurant or the relatively low property-tax rate — she talks about the positive vibe and sense of community in town.

Although Kerswill’s favorite local shop is undoubtably Mutability in Motion, a store she owns with wife Laureen Vizza that sells crafts from more than 50 artisans in the U.S., the first thing she mentioned was the culture of the town.

“That’s the absolute joy of Stockbridge itself,” she said. “You see it in every aspect of Stockbridge, whether you’re just out and about for your daily activities like going to the post office. Doing those normal, daily things, you bump into people all over the place.”

And Kerswill experiences this sense of community in more ways than one. As president of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce, she regularly attends meetings and finds that several town residents show up consistently, contradicting the typical stereotype for chambers of commerce.

“It’s a great force in the town,” she said. “The more members we have, the more feedback we get, and the more people who can take part in town meetings. It gives us a bigger voice, and it helps us when we come at this as a collective rather than trying to do all the same things, but as individuals.”

She joined the chamber soon after opening her business in town as an opportunity to be a part of a broader marketing reach, hoping to create relationships with other local businesses in town.

“The chamber has a much broader marketing reach than I might as an individual business,” Kerswill told BusinessWest. “Because of that much broader marketing reach, when the businesses come together and support the chamber, it can reach even further because those member dollars increase our marketing budget and increase our ability to interact with the town.”

When thinking of a small town that relies on tourism to support its economy, one might assume it turns into a ghost town during the winter months. But this is not the case for Stockbridge. In fact, this close-knit town provides plenty of museums, historic sites, and other activities for those who live there and visitors alike, and most don’t close down during the offseason. While summer and spring typically see the most tourism, Stockbridge still has plenty to offer during the other months of the year.

“We are a town that’s open all year long; nobody closes seasonally,” said Kerswill. “All of our shops are independently operated, and they’re all mom-and-pop shops. Everybody carries something you need; we try not to overlap what we sell. We all have different missions.”

Year-round Fun

And these missions all provide different forms of entertainment, 365 days a year.

Barbara Zanetti, executive director of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce, noted that, while Stockbridge currently relies on tourism, the chamber is constantly looking for ways to grow the town and slowly move away from that necessity.

“We are a small community with just under 2,000 residents, but we have so much to offer as far as culture,” she said.

Along Main Street alone, one can find the Stockbridge Library, banks and real-estate offices, the Red Lion Inn, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Austen Riggs Center, the Mission House Museum, and many more.

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,947
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $10.13
Commercial Tax Rate: $10.13
Median Household Income: $48,571
Median Family Income: $59,556
Type of government: Town Administrator; Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Austen Riggs Center; Tanglewood; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

Among the most popular is the Norman Rockwell Museum, which celebrates 50 years of exhibits this year. The museum holds the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell art, and provides educational opportunities for those who are interested in learning more about the universal messages of humanity and kindness portrayed in his work.

Another popular destination is Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and one of the world’s most beloved music festivals. The 2019 Tanglewood season included everything from performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra to showcases for up-and-coming artists.

During the warmer months, outdoor activities abound, Kerswill noted, and suggested visitors take a moment to explore nature in and around Stockbridge.

“Bring your kayak up here, get out on the water, and just let your body de-stress for a couple of hours,” she said. “And then take in the surroundings.”

The natural resources, hiking, and beauty of the countryside are a few things that Zanetti says consistently keep people coming to the area, in addition to the arts and cultural aspects that draw a steady flow of visitors.

And though some activities may slow down during the offseason, Kerswill said few close during the colder months. “There’s just this amazing bit of culture that happens. Whether you live here or whether you’re visiting, you will find something regardless of the time of year.”

Best of Both Worlds

While Stockbridge has the feel of being in the countryside, Kerswill says anything a person could need is only a short drive away.

“We like the small-town New England feel, but you’re also not too far from all the conveniences you need,” she said. “It’s like this illusion of living in the country, but you’re surrounded by everything you need, so nothing is really inconvenient.”

All it takes, she said, is a little bit of research to find a plethora of activities to explore in town.

“I think, unless people really get to know the town, they don’t really realize just how much there is here,” she said. “It’s the best of both worlds, for sure.”

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Margaret Kerswill (left) and Laureen Vizza

Margaret Kerswill (left) and Laureen Vizza in front of their Main Street shop, Mutability in Motion.

Margaret Kerswill has a couple of good views of Stockbridge’s business community. One is as president of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce. The other is from her storefront window on Main Street.

“I think there’s a real appeal that’s well-defined in our town’s tagline, which is ‘a quintessential New England town.’ It feels small; it feels intimate,” said Kerswill, co-owner with her wife, Laureen Vizza, of Mutability in Motion, a downtown store that sells crafts handmade by artisans from across the U.S., many of them local.

“There’s a connection between people in town,” she went on. ‘When you walk through town in the morning, just about everyone says ‘good morning’ to you. There’s a very nice atmosphere about Stockbridge.”

Still, outsiders often peg the community as a tourist destination — which is certainly is — and not much else, and are surprised to find a bustling local economy that doesn’t shut down during slow tourism seasons.

“I know being in my shop, a lot of the visitors who come, who have never been here, are often surprised to see businesses stay open year-round,” Kerswill said. “When they visit other tourist areas at the beginning and end of the season, a lot of those restaurants and shops close down. We’re a small town, so most of our foot traffic is in the summer season, but we’re still here year-round, serving local regulars.”

Still, Stockbridge relies heavily on tourism and visitorship for economic development. With a population of just under 2,000 — ranking it in the bottom sixth in the Commonwealth — the community doesn’t have a deep well of residents or businesses from which to draw tax revenue, but it does boast a widely noted series of destination attractions, from Tanglewood to the Norman Rockwell Museum; from the Berkshire Theatre Festival to Berkshire Botanical Garden.

Other attractions continue to emerge as well, including the oft-delayed Elm Court project by Travaasa Berkshire County, which will turn the historic Elm Court Estate into a resort featuring 112 hotel rooms, a 60-seat restaurant, and a 15,000-square-foot spa.

The property, which sits on the border of Stockbridge and Lenox on Old Stockbridge Road, was constructed in 1886 as a summer cottage for William Douglas Stone and Emily Vanderbilt, completed a series of renovations in 1919, and evolved into an inn in the ’40s and ’50s, hosting dinners, events, and overnight accommodations. It was eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The project to renovate it began six years ago when Front Yard purchased the estate from the Berle family, who had run a boutique, wedding-oriented hotel there from 2002 to 2009. Eight neighbors appealed the 2015 approval of the resort by the Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals, but the Massachusetts Land Court eventually ruled in favor of the developer, Front Yard LLC. This past summer, Front Yard asked the Stockbridge Select Board for — and received — an extension of the permit which would have expired last month. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.

Meanwhile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is developing a $33 million construction project at Tanglewood, a four-building complex that will house rehearsal and performance space for the Tanglewood Music Center as well as a new education venture known as the Tanglewood Learning Institute — the first weatherized, all-season structure at Tanglewood, which the BSO plans to make available for events beyond the summer months.

“We really are an amazing cultural center here, between the visual arts and handcrafted arts and crafts,” Kerswill said. “We’ve got music, dance, and theater with amazing summer-stock casts. On one hand, we have the feel of country living, but we have the convenience of Manhattan two hours away, Albany 45 minutes away, Boston two hours away, and all the culture in our immediate area. It’s remarkable. That’s why I’m here — the culture and the arts.”

Community Ties

As chamber president, Kerswill leads a member base that’s smaller than most chambers, but “strong and loyal,” as she called it.

“We do some chamber-related functions to connect,” she said, “and we also have tri-town chamber mixers with people from Lenox and Lee, where we get together and share experiences in an informal setting over cocktails for a couple hours.”

Margaret Kerswill

Margaret Kerswill

“We really are an amazing cultural center here, between the visual arts and handcrafted arts and crafts. We’ve got music, dance, and theater with amazing summer-stock casts.”

The chamber also presents an annual event to honor members and businesses, alternating between an individual one year and a company the next. On top of that, it puts on two major events. One is the three-day Main Street at Christmas festival — slated this year for Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 — which brings thousands of people into town with activities for families and children, concerts, caroling at the Red Lion Inn, and self-guided house tours. On Sunday, Main Street closes down for several hours, antique cars are brought in, and the strip transforms into a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

That follows a summer arts and crafts fair each August, a weekend-long event that always sells out its vendor capacity, she said. “There’s no entry fee for patrons, and people freely walk around and come and go as they please. That brings a lot of people to town, at a time when summer is winding down and there’s less traffic.”

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,947 (2010)
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $9.76
Commercial Tax Rate: $9.76
Median Household Income: $48,571
Median Family Income: $59,556
Type of government: Town Administrator; Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Austen Riggs Center; Tanglewood; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

Not wanting to rest on its laurels when it comes to its status as a desirable town for tourists and residents alike, a visionary project committee was formed by Stockbridge officials several years ago to develop recommendations that could be implemented over the next 20 years. The committee issued a report in 2016 titled “Planning a Way Forward.”

That report noted that residents value the town’s cultural institutions and historic buildings; its open space, recreation sites, and walking trails; and its downtown (although many would like to see additional shops and services, as well as more parking). Meanwhile, they want to see smart housing growth that takes into account the community’s aging population, as well as additional transportation options and better accommodation of walkers and bicyclists.

As a result, the document envisioned a Stockbridge in 2036 that mixes the traditional strengths of tourism, culture, and creative economy with green- and technology-based businesses, food production from local farmers, and agri-tourism. The ideal community would also be less auto-reliant, expanding pedestrian networks, bicycle infrastructure, and regional bus and ride-sharing services.

The report also predicts a socially and economically diverse population that provides equally diverse housing options, from apartments and condominiums to smaller single-family homes, co-housing projects, and historic ‘Berkshire cottages.’ These include a mix of sustainable new construction and repurposed buildings, including the preservation of older homes, along with an increase of people living close to the town center, including mixed-use buildings with apartments over shops to support downtown businesses.

While the overall vision may be ambitious, it encompasses the sorts of goals a town of Stockbridge’s size can reasonably set when looking to move into its next era.

Blast from the Past

Kerswill, for one, is happy she and Vizza set up shop in Stockbridge — right next to the Red Lion Inn, in fact, which is in many ways the heart of the downtown business culture.

“It’s a great experience being in downtown in Stockbridge,” she told BusinessWest. “We don’t have any chain stores or restaurant franchises. We are all independently owned, and the chances are good, when you pop into one of our stores, that you’re going to be meeting the owner. It becomes a very personal experience because of that.”

As for the Red Lion itself, “it’s cozy and intimate,” she went on, “and they’ve modernized with things that people expect, like wi-fi, but you still get a real, old-fashioned experience, and I think people really crave that. I know I do.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight

Danielle Fillio says recent projects will boost Stockbridge’s cultural and tourism draws.

Danielle Fillio says recent projects will boost Stockbridge’s cultural and tourism draws.

The Elm Court Estate in Stockbridge was constructed in 1886 as a summer cottage for William Douglas Stone and Emily Vanderbilt, completed a series of renovations in 1919, and evolved into an inn in the ’40s and ’50s, hosting dinners, events, and overnight accommodations. It was eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nowadays, it’s getting a big boost from Travaasa Berkshire County, which plans to renovate, preserve, and add to the complex in order to create a new resort — and bring in the jobs and tourism that comes with it.

“Elm Court was approved three years ago and held up in land court in Lenox, but now it’s done and moving forward with development,” said Danielle Fillio, Stockbridge’s recently appointed town administrator. “It’s a big resort with a restaurant on site.”

The property sits on the border of Stockbridge and Lenox on Old Stockbridge Road and fits well into the destination marketing of both communities, smallish towns that rely heavily on visits from outsiders to grow their tax base.

“We’re excited about bringing some jobs here, and we’ll have the meals tax, room tax, and more tourists,” Fillio said.

Meanwhile, the Boston Symphony Orchestra broke ground over the summer on a $30 million construction project at Tanglewood, a four-building complex that will house rehearsal and performance space for the Tanglewood Music Center as well as a new education venture known as the Tanglewood Learning Institute — the first weatherized, all-season structure at Tanglewood, which the BSO plans to make available for events beyond the summer months.

“Those buildings will be used year-round, which will help extend tourism through the offseason,” Fillio said, noting that Tanglewood is one of Stockbridge’s main summer draws, but the colder months could use a tourism boost.

Indeed, those two projects are indicative of how much Stockbridge relies on tourism and visitorship for economic development. With a population of just under 2,000, the community doesn’t have a deep well of residents or businesses from which to draw tax revenue, but it does boast a widely noted series of destination attractions, from Tanglewood to the Norman Rockwell Museum; from the Berkshire Theatre Festival to Berkshire Botanical Garden.

The goal, Fillio said, is to complement those regional draws with the kinds of services and municipal improvements that will best serve an older population that values the town’s rural character. And town leaders are striving to do just that.

Full Speed Ahead

Although the issue has been a contentious one, the Select Board, earlier this year, approved the hiring of Fillio, who had been assistant to the previous town administrator for a decade, to her current role. She had been serving in an interim capacity while town leaders mulled a number of options, including partnering with neighboring Lee and Lenox on a shared administrator.

We want to preserve our natural resources while bringing more people here and helping businesses.”

In her now-permanent role, she’s involved with many critical areas of town administration, from budgeting to planning, and she’s pleased with some of the recent progress to improve municipal infrastructure and attract new business.

On the former front, Stockbridge has been successful winning grants to repair a number of bridges in town, including $500,000 from the state’s Small Bridge Program and $1 million from its Small Town Rural Assistance Program to replace the deteriorated, heavily traveled Larrywaug Bridge on Route 183, just north of the state highway’s intersection with Route 102. The project will commence in 2018.

The town’s voters had previously approved a $2.6 million, 20-year bond to finance repairs to eight bridges and roadways in need of restoration. Among them are the Averic Road twin bridges off Route 183, which were closed by MassDOT in the spring of 2016.

Meanwhile, the town is looking to replace its highway garage, which is “currently falling apart,” Fillio said, and is also considering options for the quirky intersection of Routes 7 and 102 at the Red Lion Inn. “We’re going to see if we can raise funds to be able to get an updated study to see what may help us with the traffic there. The last traffic study in that area was in 2004.”

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,947 (2010)
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $9.59
Commercial Tax Rate: $9.59
Median Household Income: $48,571
Median Family Income: $59,556
Type of government: Town Administrator; Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Austen Riggs Center; Tanglewood; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

On the planning front, a visionary project committee was formed several years ago to develop recommendations that could be implemented over the next 20 years. The committee issued a report in 2016 titled “Planning a Way Forward.”

That report noted that residents value the town’s cultural institutions and historic buildings; its open space, recreation sites, and walking trails; and its downtown (although many would like to see additional shops and services, as well as more parking). Meanwhile, they want to see smart housing growth that takes into account the community’s aging population, as well as additional transportation options and better accommodation of walkers and bicyclists.

As a result, the document envisioned a Stockbridge in 2036 that mixes the traditional strengths of tourism, culture, and creative economy with green- and technology-based businesses, food production from local farmers, and agri-tourism. The ideal community would also be less auto-reliant, expanding pedestrian networks, bicycle infrastructure, and regional bus and ride-sharing services.

The report also predicts a socially and economically diverse population that provides equally diverse housing options, from apartments and condominiums to smaller single-family homes, co-housing projects, and historic ‘Berkshire cottages.’ These include a mix of sustainable new construction and repurposed buildings, including the preservation of older homes, along with an increase of people living close to the town center, including mixed-use buildings with apartments over shops to support downtown businesses.

While the overall vision may be ambitious, it encompasses the sorts of goals a town of Stockbridge’s size can reasonably set when looking to move into its next era. To help bring new businesses into this plan, the Planning Board has formed a bylaw-review committee tasked with examining all the zoning bylaws to determine what needs to change to make the town a more attractive place to set up shop.

“We want to preserve our natural resources while bringing more people here and helping businesses,” Fillio said.

Positive Signals

Businesses are certainly cheering the cell-phone tower that Verizon erected on the southern end of the town landfill earlier this year. Previously, half the town had no cell service, and downtown tourists were surprised by the lack of a signal.

“The tower is up and running, and it makes a great difference — if you have Verizon. If you have AT&T, it’s still not a huge help, but there have been talks about possibly having AT&T go up in the tower,” Fillio said. “But you can actually get service at the Red Lion now, which for years was never the case.”

It’s just one way a small town is taking small steps to preserve its cultural character while adding the kinds of amenities demanded by a 21st-century population.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight

Chris Marsden and Stephen Shatz

Chris Marsden and Stephen Shatz say the new solar farm on the town’s capped landfill will generate revenue as well as green energy.

 

The idea of change in Stockbridge might seem antithetical to its nature, because the town’s economy is centered on tourism driven by its quintessential New England charm.

Indeed, thousands of people flock to Stockbridge each year to frequent its quaint downtown shops or visit iconic attractions that include Tanglewood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

But change has taken place in the town in recent years. Some of it has been unplanned, while other measures have been carefully crafted to retain its ambience, while keeping up with the times.

“Between 1996 and 2010, our population decreased by almost 25%, and the median age went from 39 to 55, which we now think is over age 60,” said Select Board member Stephen Shatz. “Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life in Berkshire County, and even though we don’t have all of the tools we need to respond, we are trying.”

To that end, the town has taken a proactive stance to find ways to keep pace with technology and continue to provide police, ambulance, and fire services to its 1,800 year-round residents as well as its second homeowners and the 7,000 visitors who add to the population every week during the summer.

The cost for those services is high, but Stockbridge has taken a piece of seemingly useless property — its capped landfill — and put it to use in ways that will generate new income as well as green energy.

The first project is a cell-phone tower that Verizon is erecting on the southern end of the landfill. It should be completed next spring and will make a significant difference because 50% of the town has no cell service and downtown tourists are often surprised when told they have to walk uphill to use their phones.

Shatz said some businesses, including the Red Lion Inn, have put in boosters to help with the problem, but the lack of service also presents a public-safety issue as police officers and first responders need to communicate via cell phones when a problem or emergency occurs.

Shatz has been working on the issue for three years, and says town officials were pleased to have Verizon win the bid to build the cell tower.

He added that Verizon spent almost $400,000 to rebuild a 1,500-foot road to provide access to the southern end of the landfill where the new tower is under construction. Underground circuits were also installed; excavation began recently, and plans are in place to complete construction this winter and have the tower operational by April, although inclement winter weather could affect the schedule.

“Verizon has been a wonderful partner in this venture,” Shatz said, adding that Stockbridge will receive $24,000 in rent annually for the next 20 years for the land, plus half of any co-location income received from other cellphone carriers who use the tower.

The access road, which was completed in early October, made a second project possible on the capped landfill, which is also under construction.

Ameresco is building a 900,000-kilowatt solar facility and when it’s complete, the town will receive rent from the company for 20 years as well as net-metering credits.

Shatz noted that crews have been working weekends to ensure the solar facility is mechanically connected to the National Grid’s power grid by Jan. 8, which is the deadline for federal and state tax incentives.

Stockbridge Facilities Manager Chris Marsden has visited the site daily since work began in August and says the project has been complicated by regulations associated with a capped landfill.

“But the Department of Environmental Protection has been very helpful in making the positive reuse of this land possible,” he said. “They have offered us advice and information about how to proceed so we don’t damage the cap and maintain standards that have to be upheld.”

He described the reuse of the landfill as an unusual venture.

“The property couldn’t have been used for recreation or development, and was costing the town money to maintain. But we have turned it into a valuable piece of land that will generate revenue from the leases and net-metering credits, which is icing on the cake,” Marsden told BusinessWest.

Shatz added that every square foot of the landfill has been put to use.

“It’s also important to have Stockbridge become part of the effort to produce renewable energy; we’re a green community and will be the first town in the Berkshires to finish a solar project,” he said, noting that the town’s Green Committee, led by Laura Dubester, received a $140,000 state grant last year to insulate public buildings and continuously work to find funding for green projects.

New Pathways

Stockbridge has six bridges in need of major repairs, and a plan is being formulated to address the problem. Several are on Route 183, a well-traveled corridor that connects Great Barrington and Lenox, continues into Stockbridge, and runs past the main gate to Tanglewood before continuing on toward the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

“Mass DOT has downgraded one of the bridges every year for the past five years and has restricted access to heavy vehicles on it,” Shatz said, explaining that the town needs six bridges because the Housatonic River runs through it, as do a number of streams.

“We’ve underfunded infrastructure in the past and are paying the price for not having banked money for it. It’s an important issue because, when a bridge fails here, it’s more than an inconvenience, it’s a loss of revenue for our cultural institutions,” he continued. “They provide employment and the tourist dollars that float the Stockbridge boat. Tanglewood alone has a $50 million economic impact on the region, which is very significant.”

A special town meeting will be held next month to authorize spending $2.6 million to repair the bridges, which would be funded through a bond.

“It will cost $1 million in engineering expenses to reconstruct three of the bridges, but we hope to do that next year,” Shatz said, adding that the town will apply for a state grant to make needed repairs to the largest bridge after the engineering report is complete, and further work will be planned for the future.

Raising revenue and cutting costs are two items that rank high on the town’s priority list, and a joint meeting recently took place with the towns of Lee and Lenox to discuss the viability of sharing a town administrator.

In late July, Jorja Ann Marsden retired from her position of town administrator after 31 years of public service. Her position was filled temporarily several months ago when Danielle Fillio was promoted from administrative assistant to interim town administrator, but the future of that position is a matter of speculation.

“There has been a fair amount of disagreement over the idea of sharing a town manager; it’s a contentious issue because some people fear the loss of Stockbridge’s identity,” Shatz said, explaining that a public meeting will be held Jan. 9 to discuss the issue. Discussion could determine whether it is on the agenda at the annual town meeting in May.

He noted that the combined population of the three towns is 12,000, and sharing a town administrator would allow them to hire a full-time finance director and a planner/grant administrator, which none of the communities can afford on their own.

Several years ago, forward-thinking town officials decided the town needed to come up with a plan for the future. To that end, a Visionary Project Committee was formed and two planning consultants were hired to help develop a set of recommendations that could be implemented over the next 20 years and possibly lead to the creation of a new master plan.

The committee issued a report in May titled “Planning a Way Forward” and presented it to the all-volunteer Planning Board.

“It’s important as Stockbridge’s last master plan was completed in 1996, and the time has come to evaluate changes that have taken place or need to be made,” Shatz said.

The report includes input from several public meetings where a wide variety of topics were discussed. Common themes included the need to improve traffic flow and parking downtown as well as to increase transportation options.

The importance of luring new businesses as well as attracting and retaining young people and families were other key elements mentioned in the report.

Planning Board Secretary Jennifer Carmichael said a public meeting was held after the report was made public. In addition, several business owners and residents scheduled meetings with the board to discuss matters that concern them.

“We’re also still getting input from town officials,” Carmichael said, noting that, when the process is complete, the Planning Board will decide how to proceed with the recommendations in the report.

But positive change continues in town. A $4 million renovation to Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives was completed last spring, and people from nearby towns have been taking advantage of new programs and activities, along with state-of-the-art improvements that include a new multi-purpose room in the main part of the building that holds 35 people.

“The library is absolutely exquisite, and its offerings include a cooking club, book club, speaker series, and expansion of the children’s programs,” Shatz said, explaining that the library houses historic artifacts, dates back to the darkest days of the Civil War, and was started by a group of public-spirited men who believed it was central to the life of the town.

Into the Future

Although Stockbridge is a great place to live and visit, its leader say, the town lacks employment opportunities needed to attract and retain young people.

“We don’t have jobs, so we have find a way to manage our resources better,” Shatz said.

Officials are doing their best to make that happen, and hope revenue from Verizon’s cell-phone tower and the Ameresco solar farm, combined with infrastructure improvements, will help to resolve their challenges without disturbing the character that has made Stockbridge a destination people return to time and time again.

 

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,800
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $9.59
Commercial Tax Rate: $9.59
Median Household Income: $60,732
MEDIAN FAMILY Income: $65,469
Type of government: Town Administrator; Board of Selectmen; Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Tanglewood; Norman Rockwell Museum; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight: Stockbridge

Leslie and Stephen Shatz

Leslie and Stephen Shatz stand outside the historic Stockbridge Library, which is undergoing a major renovation.

Stockbridge became known for its quintessential New England charm after it was depicted by artist Norman Rockwell in a masterpiece titled “Main Street.”

The town is also known for its cultural offerings, which include Tanglewood, and Stockbridge has become a destination for people who appreciate its unique character. But, despite the fact that hotel-room occupancy was up 5.3% this summer, cell-phone service is extremely limited and available in just a few locations.

In fact, Selectman Stephen Shatz said it’s not unusual for him to be asked by tourists who are shopping downtown where they can go to use their phones. “They come here with the expectation that they will have cell-phone service, and you can see them on the streets hunting for a place where they can find it,” he told BusinessWest.

That problem will soon be solved, as Verizon is in the process of installing a cell-phone tower on the town’s capped landfill.

“We’ve completed the local part of the permitting process,” Shatz said, explaining that, two years ago, the Board of Selectmen proposed a zoning bylaw to permit the tower to be erected, which received a favorable vote at a town meeting last year. He added that town officials were quite pleased to have the well-known, licensed FCC carrier win the bid because the law requires the company to provide up to four co-locations for other cell-phone companies. “We also negotiated the right to put up municipal public-safety antennas on the tower, although there are no plans to do that at the moment,” he noted.

Preliminary work is expected to begin in March, which will involve installing electricity and a landline at the site. Construction of the actual tower will start next summer, and “by this time next year we should have cell service in town,” Shatz said.

It’s one of a number of measures officials are taking to keep pace with changes in society and allow the town that always appears frozen in time to be anything but.

“Many people have an image of Stockbridge that is immutable. They think of it like the Norman Rockwell portrait, but change does occur, even when you do nothing,” Shatz said.

He explained that, in addition to advances in technology, which require infrastructure to support them, the town’s population has grown smaller and considerably older, which presents a number of intriguing challenges.

“The town has changed. Between 1996 and 2010, our population decreased by almost 20%, and the median age went from 31 to 55,” he told BusinessWest. “Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life in Berkshire County, and even though we don’t have all of the tools we need to respond, we are trying.”

Three years ago, Shatz also came up with the idea to take a new look at other measures that will help the town move into the future and meet the needs of residents and tourists, who are vital to its economy. To that end, a committee has been formed for a Visionary Project that could lead to a master-planning process.

“The last master plan was completed in 1996, and although it was supposed to be looked at every five years, that never happened,” Shatz explained.

One of the first steps will be to initiate a discussion with residents about services they need and want and how the town can provide them. “About 60% of our residences belong to second-home owners. It’s pretty significant because we get income from the taxes they pay, but these people aren’t actively involved in the community. They participate in our cultural and community activities, but they can’t vote, and we are trying to find ways to involve them in our ad hoc committees,” Shatz said.

Since their input is critical to the Visionary Project, the 10-person committee, chaired by Shatz, includes two second-home owners as well as people born in Stockbridge and those who moved there recently.

“We need a different model and want to increase public awareness about our challenges,” he said, adding that the town appropriated $25,000 to fund the initial phase of the project.

Capital Ideas

Leslie Shatz (Stephen’s wife) is a trustee of the Stockbridge Library Assoc., head of its development committee, and a member of its capital campaign steering committee, which was formed four years ago to raise funds to renovate and revitalize the town’s private, nonprofit library and museum. “It contains more than 500 artifacts along with artwork and detailed records of the town’s history,” she said, adding that the renovations were prompted by the need to install an elevator to make the library’s three floors handicapped-accessible because the historic building had been untouched since its last renovation in 1937.

Library Director Katherine O’Neil said that, right after she was hired in June 2011, the library received a $6,000 grant for a code review of the building. The following month, Center Line Architects from Vermont was selected to do the work, which included preliminary design schematics. In addition, a consultant was hired to determine whether it was realistic to raise the funds needed for a major renovation. The result was positive, and a capital campaign kicked off in 2013, right after Thanksgiving.

“By the end of January 2014, we had raised $1 million in pledges and contributions,” Leslie Shatz said, adding that they included some “magnificent leadership gifts.”

The John and Jane Fitzpatrick Fund, headed by Nancy and Ann Fitzpatrick-Brown, contributed $500,000, and an equal amount was donated by sisters Mary Stokes Waller and Carol Fremont-Smith in memory of their mother and grandmother.

Revenue raised to date includes a grant of $600,000, $500,000 in historic tax credits, and $200,000 from the town. As a result, the renovation is well underway and the committee is close to wrapping up its $4 million fund-raising goal.

“The library is essential to the community life of Stockbridge. It opened in 1862 during the darkest days of the Civil War and was launched by a group of public-spirited men who believed a library was central to the life of the town,” Leslie Shatz said.

“They put up the money needed to build the structure on donated land and challenged the townspeople to raise enough to buy books. It was a community endeavor,” she continued, adding that the first librarian was the sister of a Supreme Court Justice, and the library was only one of five built in the U.S. during the war.

The new building will retain the majority of its historical elements, but square footage has been added for the elevator. Space has also been repurposed in the attic, the roofline has been raised, and skylights are being installed.

In addition to updating the electrical, plumbing, and heating and air-conditioning systems, a new multi-purpose room will accommodate up to 35 people in the main area of the building.

“It will give us the option of holding more library programs as well as allowing groups in the community to use the space,” Leslie Shatz said.

O’Neil said a strategic plan for new programming was created for 2012-17 after input was received from focus groups and community surveys, which resulted in an expansion of existing programs and a plethora of new ones, including a financial-literary program for teens and their parents that will be conducted by second-home owner Jon Budish.

“The renovation has been a wonderful project to be part of, and we are looking forward to letting patrons see the renovated space and using it to better serve their needs and interests,” O’Neil said.

The work is slated to be completed in January, and the building will open after the books are shelved and the museum artifacts are put into place.

“We have been exceptionally gratified by the support we have received for the project,” Leslie Shatz said. “We are all very excited about opening the doors and welcoming the community into the building.”

While the library project draws to a close, there are other initiatives taking shape in this picturesque community.

One of the primary challenges the town faces is providing ambulance, police, and fire protection, since the population increases by 7,000 on summer weekends.

To lower operating costs and take advantage of underutilized sites, the Board of Selectmen has taken a proactive stance, and in addition to the cell phone tower, it plans to establish a solar farm on the landfill. The board is in the process of selecting a provider, but the project cannot begin until it receives permission from the state.

“If we’re successful, it will cover the cost of almost 100% of the electricity used to power the town’s buildings,” Shatz said. “The landfill has the potential to be a real income generator because we will receive rent from Verizon which could amount to $30,000 annually. It’s real money to a small town.”

Moving Forward

Stephen Shatz said Stockbridge is a great place to live, but lacks the type of jobs needed to retain and attract young people. So he hopes the Visionary Project, coupled with a new cell-phone tower, solar farm, major renovations to the library, and efforts to get second-home owners more involved will help Stockbridge solve the challenges it faces.

“The Visionary Project is related to finances and services,” he said. “One of the only things we can do is provide a regulatory framework conducive to smart growth.”

Indeed, that is in line with the change occurring on many levels in a town so picturesque that it attracts tourists from all over the world.

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 2,065
Area: 23.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $8.67
Commercial Tax Rate: $8.67
Median Household Income: $65,323 (2013)
Family Household Income: $79,144 (2013)
Type of government: Town Administrator/Board of Selectmen/Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Austen Riggs Center; Berkshire Theater Festival; Red Lion Inn
* Latest information available

Community Spotlight Features
Stockbridge Broadens Its Palette of Offerings
Chuck Gillett and Jorja Ann Marsden

Chuck Gillett and Jorja Ann Marsden say town officials and residents alike are adamant about maintaining the historic character of Stockbridge.

In 1967, artist Norman Rockwell told the editors of McCall’s magazine that they could not showcase his work titled “Main Street” unless they let readers know the scene depicted Christmas Eve in Stockbridge, where he lived and had his studio.

Today, the painting is of one of Rockwell’s masterpieces that reflect life in small-town America, and Stockbridge has become a destination for tourists who appreciate its history and character.

“Some people view Stockbridge as the quintessential New England village and come here just to see that,” said Selectman Chuck Gillett.

Jorja Ann Marsden agrees. “A woman from Virginia recently stopped in my office just to tell me how nice it is that we don’t have a single stoplight,” said the town administrator. “She said we should keep things that way.”

Town officials are well aware of the importance of maintaining the town’s charm, and it’s something the Board of Selectmen keeps in mind when making decisions.

“We see ourselves partly as a travel destination,” Gillett said, as he named a list of things to see and do, and spoke about them in detail. They include the Norman Rockwell Museum; Tanglewood (its entrance is in Lenox, but 90% of the grounds are in Stockbridge); the Berkshire Theater Festival; the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness; Chesterwood, the 144-acre summer estate and studio owned by renowned American sculptor Daniel Chester French, who is best known for his statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; Naumkeag House & Gardens, a 44-room Gilded Age estate built by 19th-century attorney Joseph Choate; and the National Shrine of Divine Mercy.

“Many people drive here purposefully just to go to our museums, see a play, or visit an historic site,” Gillett said, adding that, in addition to attracting tourists, 64% of the town’s residents are second homeowners from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

Although they all enjoy the town’s ambience and cultural attractions, tourists are often dismayed to discover there is no cell-phone service downtown.

However, the problem is being addressed by the selectmen, and Gillett said it’s important to resolve this dilemma, because, in addition to being an inconvenience, the lack of service poses a significant safety issue. “Our downtown is only one block, but it’s a big problem for people who stay at the Red Lion Inn because they expect to be able to use their phones. But more importantly, we have had situations where police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians needed to communicate via cell phones and were unable to do so.”

Historic Preservation

Gillett and Marsden agree that town officials and residents are adamant about maintaining the historic character of Stockbridge.

That principle was one of the major reasons why the selectmen voted unanimously in September to issue a special permit to allow Denver-based Travassa Experiental Resorts & Spas to add a four-story wing to Elm Court on 310 Old Stockbridge Road.

Gillett explained that Travassa plans to preserve the historic integrity of the palatial, Gilded Age mansion, which it purchased for $9.8 million in 2012, with plans to transform it into an elaborate, high-end resort/spa with a restaurant. The estate, which sits on close to 90 acres and is situated in the northeast corner of town, hearkens to a time when wealthy families built cottages in the Berkshires and used them as summer homes.

“Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse lived here, and there are about 15 similar homes in Stockbridge and Lenox,” Gillett said, noting that Elm Court was built in 1885 by William Douglas Sloane and Emily Thorn Vanderbilt.

The estate remained in the family until 2012, but Gillett said it was unoccupied from the early ’70s until 2002, when Vanderbilt descendants Robert and Sonja Berle began restoring it. “They ran a bed and breakfast there,” he noted.

But when the couple put the estate on the market, many townspeople feared it would be torn down, which has been the fate of several similar cottages. Although Gillett said the Berle family was committed to finding a buyer who would use it for an appropriate purpose, the property was on the market for about five years before it was sold.

Still, the proposal to turn it into a hotel evoked some controversy. “About 200 people attended a meeting held by the selectmen to discuss the proposal. They didn’t think we should grant the permit because they believed the hotel would be too big and would create too much traffic,” Gillett said.

After much consideration and three separate hearings over a four-month period, however, the selectmen agreed to issue Travassa the permit it was seeking.

“The majority of residents felt it was a positive project. They wanted to see the cottage saved and hoped to prevent it from being turned into multi-housing units. But we had to create a special, cottage-era estate bylaw so they can build the annex,” Gillett said, noting that 16 of the resort’s rooms will be inside Elms Court and 80 will be in the new building.

The project is expected to cost $50 million, and Travassa still needs to seek approval from Lenox officials, because the driveway and about 50 feet of the road in front of Elms Court are located in that town.

“We see it as another business in Stockbridge that will be significant,” Gillett noted. “The hotel and spa will bring new tax revenue to the town and will also generate economic activity for Stockbridge and Lenox because it will create jobs and bring tourists here who will frequent our shops and restaurants and visit our cultural attractions.”

Other efforts to improve Stockbridge include $500,000 of infrastructure work to enhance the downtown area.

“Last year, Main Street was repaved and a bike lane was added along two blocks that run from Route 7 and Route 102 to the Red Lion Inn,” said Marsden. “This year the other end of the street is being repaved. The area extends from the Red Lion Inn to the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge.

“The town also invested $150,000 of taxpayers’ money in new sidewalks because the ones downtown were dangerous,” she went on. “They had been undermined by frost heaves and tree roots, and we felt it was an important safety issue.”

And then, there are the ongoing efforts to bring cell-phone service downtown. Lack of it has become a safety issue in the community, said Marsden, who cited two recent examples.

“In one instance, a man fell off a roof and hit his head on a rock; his co-workers had to run a block to get to the police station because they couldn’t use their cell phones to call for help,” she said, adding that a similar scenario occurred when a driver hit a bicyclist near the fire station.

“We have also had power outages which had the potential to create problems for our elderly citizens who rely on their cell phones to get help if they have an emergency,” she went on.

In the past two years, Gillett said, town officials have contacted cell-phone service providers and encouraged them to install a tower that would provide service to the downtown district. They also hired an engineer to examine a portion of the town landfill to determine if it would be a suitable location. Since there is no electricity on the property, National Grid was brought to the site, and a representative told town officials it will cost $400,000 to install underground electric lines, which are needed for the tower to operate.

But the site has been deemed appropriate, and on Oct. 8, the selectmen passed an article that will allow a tower to be built on the property.

“We’ve put out a request for proposals; they’re due Nov. 19, and we hope to have service downtown by the end of next summer,” Gillett said. “The tower won’t be visible and will have a positive effect on the health and safety of our residents, as well as the tourists who shop downtown.”

Marsden added that expanded cell-phone service will also benefit home-business owners who need to stay in touch with their clients during a power outage.

However, this is not the only step the town has taken to promote safety. Last year, officials purchased a $470,000 rescue vehicle that is fully equipped with the Jaws of Life, as well as medical and stabilization equipment, including foam to extinguish fires.

“We put aside money for four years until we could afford to purchase the vehicle,” Gillett said, adding the selectmen believe it is important to be proactive in matters that affect the health and safety of residents. “We owned some rescue equipment before we made the purchase, but it was kept at a number of different sites,” he explained. “Now it’s all in one place, and the rescue vehicle has already been put to use.”

Continued Progress

Marsden said town officials are determined to preserve the historic charm of Stockbridge, while taking steps to keep up with the times.

“We are a very small community and want to maintain our small-town feel as well as the historic integrity that exists here. But we are looking toward the future,” she said.

Gillett agreed. “It’s important to us to maintain our reputation as the quintessential New England village in a typical New England setting. But we will continue to do all we can to maintain the safety of our residents, as well as the visitors who come to our town.”

Stockbridge at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1739
Population: 1,947 (2010)

Area: 23.7 square miles

County: Berkshire

Residential Tax Rate: $11.12

Commercial Tax Rate: $11.12
Median Household Income: $48,571 (2010)

Family Household Income: $59,556 (2010)

Type of government: Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, National Shrine of Divine Mercy, Red Lion Inn

* Latest information available

Community Profile Features
Tourism, Nostalgia Help Stockbridge Thrive

Michele Kotek, right, and Stephanie Gravalese-Wood

Michele Kotek, right, and Stephanie Gravalese-Wood say Stockbridge brings tradition and nostalgia to life, but looks to the future as well.

It’s been called the most famous Main Street in America.
And there is little disputing that Stockbridge’s main thoroughfare has earned that distinction. It was cinched in the years and decades after the town’s most famous resident, Norman Rockwell, made it famous in his “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas” painting, created in 1967.
“If people want to experience that classic New England Christmas, then Stockbridge is the place to do it,” said Stephanie Gravalese-Wood, marketing and communications manager for both the Red Lion Inn and the Porches Inn at MassMoCA in North Adams.
Indeed, that classic experience comes to life annually in a weekend event that takes the same name as the Rockwell painting and celebrates both the artist and the holidays through various family-friendly activities. This year’s 24th edition of the event, slated for Dec. 6-8, will include holiday readings, festive home tours, caroling, a luminaria walk, and the sold-out holiday concert at the First Congregational Church. All events lead to the weekend highlight: the closing of Main Street to recreate Rockwell’s scene, complete with 50 antique cars.
Michele Kotek, innkeeper for the Red Lion Inn, has also been involved with the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce for the past several years; currently she is president of the board. She told BusinessWest that the annual event was launched to help invigorate the holiday season in Stockbridge, and the success is evident, especially for the Red Lion, which is sold out for that weekend a year in advance.
“We [the chamber] have obviously perfected the event, and if you are at all ‘bah, humbug,’ come to Stockbridge and see,” said Kotek, adding that, while the community isn’t shy about celebrating its past, this is definitely not a town where time stands still.
Indeed, the community — as well as those charged with promoting it — are in some ways changing with the times, said Barbara Zanetti, long-time director of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce, noting that everything from a recently updated chamber website to mobile apps are being used by the chamber and specific venues to make a number of audiences, and especially the younger generations, aware of all that Stockbridge offers.
Jeremy Clowe

Jeremy Clowe says myriad creative initiatives have helped put the Norman Rockwell Museum — and the town — on the map.

However, ever-advancing technology brings challenges along with opportunities. And one of those challenges is cell-phone coverage and GPS identity, said Town Administrator Jorja-Ann Marsden, noting that dead zones are common and GPS searches for many Stockbridge addresses lead to the wrong locations (more on this later).
But despite these difficulties, people are finding Stockbridge, in both a literal and figurative sense, said Jeremy Clowe, manager of Media Services for the Norman Rockwell Museum, where that famous painting of Main Street hangs, along with hundreds of others.
“People want to experience American history and values, and even the name ‘Norman Rockwell’ has become an adjective, as in ‘a Norman Rockwell moment,’” he said, noting that the artist’s work — and the town in general — resonates with younger audiences, and with people from across the country and around the world. “That’s what a lot of people are looking for when they come here.”
For this latest installment of its Community Profile series, BusinessWest turns the spotlight on Stockbridge, where tourism is the main economic driver, and nostalgia has long been the main ingredient in a recipe for success.

Culture Club
Zanetti said that, while most everyone knows that the official address for Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937, carries a Lenox zip code, far fewer know that perhaps 90% of the property is in Stockbridge.
And she and others in the community are not shy about reminding people of that.
“In some of the advertisements for Tanglewood, they’re now saying ‘between Stockbridge and Lenox,’ but we do like to get our name in there for sure,” said Marsden, who has worked for the town since 1985. She noted that Tanglewood — in whatever town people believe it’s in — is one of many venues in the Berkshires that make the area a truly regional attraction, with Stockbridge being a key part of that equation.
And the regional approach is certainly one of the strategic approaches being used by those charged with promoting the community and stimulating tourist activity, said Zanetti, adding that Stockbridge, like Lenox, Great Barrington, Lee, and other communities, certainly benefits from its proximity to other popular locations and the large number of true destinations within an hour of each other.
But Stockbridge itself has long been a major draw, said Zanetti, noting that the museum, Main Street, the Red Lion Inn, and, yes, Tanglewood are some of the many attractions that help bring up to 25,000 people to the town (population: 2,000) in the summer and fall.
And these visitors have helped keep Main Street and its small commercial district — just a few blocks in size — thriving, said Marsden. “Tourism continues to thrive in our small business area, and the few times a storefront has gone empty, it hasn’t stayed empty for long.”
Rockwell and the values ever present in his work play a huge role in the town’s vibrancy, said Clowe, noting that the license plates in the museum parking lot are from all over the country, not just Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, and there are bus tours bringing people from China, Japan, France, and other countries as well.
But while Rockwell still seems to resonate with all generations, it doesn’t hurt to have much more to offer the younger audiences, said those we spoke with, and the regional aspect of Berkshires tourism has been part of this equation.
Tanglewood has added popular talent that is drawing a much younger audience over the past several years, said Clowe, adding that the Solid Sound music series at MassMoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, featuring such bands as Wilco, has also brought more young people to the Berkshires — and to Stockbridge.
“I think it’s been some of these initiatives that have been really creative that are helping to get our name on the map,” he said. “People don’t always know where this [the Rockwell museum] is, but we’ve found new ways to market ourselves online and with mobile apps, and maybe it’s a combination of all these things making the younger generations aware.”
Overall, the younger generations are “a different type of person and traveler,” said Zanetti, adding that that individual destinations must adapt and create programming that will appeal to such audiences.
Clowe concurred, and cited, as one example, a recent exhibit at the Rockwell museum — “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic,” which celebrated the 75th anniversary of the famous film. On display from early June until the end of October, the successful exhibit evolved from the personal friendship between Rockwell and Walt Disney and has drawn Disney fans of all ages from across the country.
“Everyone has to work harder and keep things fresh,” said Clowe, adding that, by doing so, Stockbridge and its individual attractions can make nostalgia just one of many selling points.

History Channel
Marsden told BusinessWest that Stockbridge’s problems with cell-phone dead zones (including some stretches of that famous Main Street) and GPS identity are real and somewhat frustrating, although carriers are looking to perhaps add another tower.
“I think it’s just a matter of time,” she said. “We’re continuing to talk to Verizon and AT&T and pushing for that cell service. While we may have a small year-round population, we’re a tourism destination, and our population swells, and for the people that travel here, we really need that cell service.”
But while it waits for that service to improve, Stockbridge will continue to focus on what enabled visitors of all ages to find — and eventually cherish — this community long before anyone knew what the acronym GPS stood for.
“A visit to Stockbridge and the Red Lion Inn is the classic New England experience,” said Gravalese-Wood. “And sometimes innovation is just keeping things the way they are.”
Stockbridge has continued to prove that point for more than a half-century now.

Elizabeth Taras can be reached at [email protected]

Holiday Gift Guide

The Gift of Stepping Out

Picking out the right gift for a loved one, partner, friend, or child can be a stressful experience. There are many different factors to consider, and there’s always the worry they won’t like what you pick out. Luckily, Western Mass. has a wide variety of places that offer great experiences you can all share together. Whether it be a go-karting adventure, having dinner at a great local restaurant, or visiting an art museum, there are plenty of experience-based options out there for you and a loved one to share. Save yourself the stress of buying material things this year, and try out one of these experiences for the holidays.

 


For Adventurers and Adrenaline Seekers


Berkshire East Mountain Resort

66 Thunder Mountain Road, Charlemont, MA

(413) 339-6617; www.berkshireeast.com

This resort is Southern New England’s year-round outdoor destination. With everything from whitewater rafting to skiing and snowboarding — and the resort’s signature mountain coaster — there are plenty of options for all types of adventure seekers. Whether you want to celebrate the holidays now or save it for a warm, summer day, a trip to the mountains is the perfect getaway.


Nomad’s Adventure Quest

100 Bidwell Road, South Windsor, CT

(860) 290-1177; www.nomadsadventurequest.com

With more than 65,000 square feet of space, there is something for people of all ages at Nomad’s. The facility has laser tag, glow-in-the-dark black-light mini golf, thunderbowl bowling, a climbing wall, more than 80 arcade and redemption games, two full-size basketball courts, a billiard room, conference and banquet rooms with overhead projection screens, a full bar, a full service café, and more. There is no admission price to enter; activities are individually priced. 


Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting

10 West St., West Hatfield, MA

(413) 446-7845; www.pioneervalleykarting.com

Conveniently located just over the Northampton town line right off I-91 exit 21, Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting is perfect for the adventurous family that loves a good adrenaline rush. The facility opens daily at 11 a.m. for ‘arrive and drive’ high-speed gas go-karting. All pricing is per person, and the facility offers high-speed junior karts specifically designed for junior racers ages 8 to 13 who are taller than 48 inches and weigh less than 180 pounds. 


Springfield Thunderbirds

MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Springfield, MA

(413) 787-6600; www.springfieldthunderbirds.com

If you’re a sports lover, this is the event for you. The Springfield Thunderbirds are the American Hockey League’s minor-league affiliate of the Florida Panthers, now playing their fourth season in Springfield. The Thunderbirds play their home games at the MassMutual Center. Tickets start at $10 depending on seating and game night.

For History and Art Lovers


Clark Art Institute

225 South St., Williamstown, MA

(413) 458-2303; www.clarkart.edu

The intimate scale and the wide variety of the galleries at the Clark makes for the perfect family trip, no matter what age a person may be. This institution also offers special programs and events throughout the year that are catered to families specifically, such as gallery talks, art making, and related entertainment. 


Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA

(413) 559-6300; www.carlemuseum.org

The Eric Carle Museum is a nonprofit organization seeking to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The Carle houses more than 11,000 objects, including thousands of permanent-collection illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, educational programs for families, and more.


Connecticut Science Center

250 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, CT

(860) 724-3623; www.ctsciencecenter.org

Only a half-hour from Springfield, the Connecticut Science Center boasts more than 165 hands-on exhibits in 10 galleries and live science demos daily. There is a state-of-the-art 3D digital theater, four educational labs, and daily programs and events. General admission for members is free, youth (ages 3-17) tickets are $16.95, adults (ages 18-64) are $23.95, and seniors (65+) are $21.95.


Norman Rockwell Museum

9 Glendale Road, Stockbridge, MA

(413) 298-4100;

www.nrm.org

The Norman Rockwell Museum houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell art. It presents, preserves, and studies the art of illustration and is a world resource for reflection, involvement, and discovery inspired by Norman Rockwell and the power of visual images to shape and reflect society. The museum is open seven days a week, year-round. Admission for members and youth ages 18 and under are free, adult tickets are $20, seniors (65+) are $18, veterans are $17, and college students with an ID are $10.


Shaker Village

1843 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield, MA

(413) 443-0188; www.hancockshakervillage.org

Shake Village boasts 20 authentic Shaker buildings, rich collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts in rotating exhibits, a full schedule of activities and workshops, a mile-long hiking trail and hundreds of acres of additional land with a variety of trails for all skill levels, picnic areas, a store and café, and a working farm with extensive gardens and heritage-breed livestock. Admission for adults is $20; seniors and active/retired military are $18; youth (ages 13-17) are $8; children 12 and under are free. From Nov. 16 through Dec. 22, the village is open weekends only. It is closed for the season Dec. 23 through April 10 and reopens for the spring season April 11.


Springfield Symphony Orchestra

1441 Main St., Suite 121, Springfield, MA

(413) 733-0636; www.springfieldsymphony.org

The SSO is the largest Massachusetts symphony outside of Boston, featuring more than 80 musicians from the New England region of the U.S. and Canada, and holding many performances each season. A Holiday Celebration concert on Dec. 7 will feature guests conductor Nick Palmer, the SSO Chorus directed by Nikki Stoia, the [email protected] Chorus directed by Bob Cilman, cantor Elise Barber, and soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine. Tickets are available online starting at $25.


Yankee Candle Village

25 Greenfield Road, South Deerfield, MA

(877) 636-7707; www.yankeecandle.com/south-deerfield-village

This is more than just a candle store. The Yankee Candle Village provides everything from make-your-own-candles to irresistible food, and has plenty of options for the kids and the parents to enjoy — as well as a year-round Bavarian Christmas village.


For the Foodies


Capri Pizza Shop

18 Cabot St., Holyoke MA

(413) 532-3460;

www.capripizzashop.com

Capri has been in the family since 1966 and is now owned and run by Fiore Santaniello and managed by his two sons, Salvatore and Gennaro. Though Capri’s look has changed over the years, it has maintained the quality of its food, even earning the People’s Choice Award from Best of Mass Pizza.


Esselon Café

99 Russell St., Hadley, MA

(413) 585-1515; www.esselon.com

Esselon is an award-winning café featuring fresh roasted coffee, rare and exotic teas, and a full menu. Centrally located between Amherst and Northampton on Route 9 on the Common in Hadley, this café offers outdoor dining during the spring, summer, and fall months and a casual atmosphere indoors.


La Fogata

770 Tyler St., Pittsfield, MA

(413) 443-6969; www.lafogatarestaurante.com

La Fogata (Spanish for ‘the bonfire’) offers traditional Colombian cuisine. Owner Miguel Gomez moved to Pittsfield from Colombia in 1993 and realized there were no Latino restaurants in the area, so he decided to open his own. Items on the menu include everything from carne asada to pechuga apanada.


Johnny’s Tavern

30 Boltwood Walk, Amherst

(413) 230-3818;

www.johnnystavernamherst.com

Johnny’s Tavern is a contemporary American restaurant nestled in the heart of the community of Amherst, priding itself on using organic produce, sustainable seafood, and hormone-free meat and poultry whenever possible. Items on the menu range from pizza to a pulled duck sandwich.


Munich Haus

13 Center St., Chicopee, MA

(413) 594-8788; www.munichhaus.com

The Munich Haus gives customers a taste of Germany, no passport required. A family-owned restaurant that opened in 2004, this restaurant prides itself on its authenticity, right down to the food, beer, and décor. The comfortable, laid-back atmosphere paired with popular menu items like its wide array of schnitzels and a plentiful selection of beer and wine make the Munich Haus a place where anyone can find something to enjoy.


Nick’s Nest

1597 Northampton St., Holyoke

(413) 532-5229;

www.nicksnestholyoke.com

This is the perfect place to go for those who want to spend quality time over some great food on a low budget. Founded in 1921 by Nick Malfas, Nick’s Nest started as a roadside popcorn cart. Now serving much more than popcorn, it continues to be a hot spot, featuring hot dogs, homemade potato and macaroni salad, ice cream, and much more.

 

For the Adults


Abandoned Building Brewery

142 Pleasant St., Easthampton

(413) 282-7062; www.abandonedbuildingbrewery.com

This brewery began in March 2013 when owner Matt Tarlecki transformed this abandoned mill building into what now stands as Abandoned Building Brewery, complete with a walk-in cooler, a 15-barrel brewhouse, two 30-barrel fermenters, and one 30-barrel bright tank. Its ales include a combination of year-round, seasonal, and collaboration beers.


MGM Springfield Topgolf Swing Suite

One MGM Way, Springfield

(413) 273-5000;

www.mgmspringfield.com

Located outside on the Plaza next to Indian Motorcycle, Topgolf Swing Suite is a perfect option for couples or a group of friends looking to have fun and enhance golfing skills. The experience offers a comfortable lounge to hang out in while enjoying food and drinks.


Northampton Brewery

11 Brewster Court, Northampton

(413) 584-9903;

www.northamptonbrewery.com

The Northampton Brewery brews fine ales and lagers, served with outstanding food and a friendly staff. The brewery is conveniently located in downtown Northampton and is an ideal place to go for a delicious meal and a couple beers in front of the fireplace on a chilly winter evening. The destination has been around for 35 years and continues to be one of the area’s most popular breweries.


The Quarters

8 Railroad St., Hadley, MA

(413) 429-4263;

www.hadleyquarters.com

The Quarters, located just off Route 9 and directly on the Norwottock Rail Trail, is a destination for those seeking a place to enjoy some creative food, excellent drinks, and a selection of more than 20 vintage arcade games — perfect for a group outing or a date night.

Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

STOCKBRIDGE — Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality Group, announced the appointment of H. Jackson Donoyan as vice president of Operations for the growing hotel-management company.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome Jackson Donoyan as the newest addition to Main Street Hospitality Group,” Eustis said. “Jackson’s proven leadership and expertise in the hospitality industry is a valuable addition to our team, and we look forward to having him spearhead a number of key initiatives across Main Street’s expanding portfolio of properties.”

As vice president of Operations, Donoyan will work closely with Eustis and Main Street’s leadership team to oversee operations at each hotel property in the portfolio. He will focus on revenue generation, operational oversight, owner relations, talent development, and strategic growth. In addition, he is tasked with stabilization and development of the brand while also enhancing the overall guest experience and reinforcing brand standards.

Donoyan brings a wealth of industry ingenuity to Main Street Hospitality Group, including a background opening and operating newly constructed and renovated hotels. Most recently, he was the general manager at NYLO Providence Warwick Hotel in Warwick, R.I. Prior to that, he was a hospitality consultant in Boston and held positions as the director of Food and Beverage and director of Operations/interim general manager at both the Liberty Hotel in Boston and Hotel Viking in Newport, R.I.

“Jackson’s understanding of the New England market is especially valuable as Main Street continues to grow, particularly with the spring opening of our properties in Newport and Providence, Rhode Island,” Eustis said.

DBA Certificates

The following business certificates and trade names were issued or renewed during the month of October 2019.

AMHERST

Evan’s Trees & Trash
86 Bridge St.
Evan Montuori

Feel Worldwide
26 Hallock St., Apt. 5
Arbab Naseebullah Kasi

Moose Tracks Media
619 Main St., Apt. 55
Alexander LaMarche

Thistlebloom Farm
784 South East St.
Barking Stoat Inc.

CHICOPEE

J. Polep Distribution Services
705 Meadow St.
Eric Polep

Juke, LLC
349 Chicopee St.
Jessica Popp

King Gray Coach Lines
70 Justin Dr.
Terrien Transportation Inc.

Pierce’s Floor Covering
59 Gilmore St.
Jason Pierce

Quality Contractors
15 Edgewood Ave.
Juan Diaz

DEERFIELD

New England Meetinghouse Design
222 Greenfield Road
Ann Satkowski

P & G
102B North Main St.
Gary Bunker, Patricia Bunker

EASTHAMPTON

Mercado’s Flooring
78 Everett St.
Jose Mercado

Vignette Studio & Exchange
52 Union St.
Beverly Rosenthal

EAST LONGMEADOW

New England Clean Rooms
92 Denslow Road
John Maybury

Skin Tight
576 North Main St.
Monica Hunter

The Threading Club and Spa
632 North Main St.
Mena Tiwari

WBS Solutions, LLC
27 Skyline Dr.
Nathan Lee

HADLEY

Countryside Farms
199 Russell St.
Alex Rytuba

Esselon Farm
111 West St.
Mark Krause

Hadley Home Improvement
106 Middle St.
Kevin Royko

North Hadley Logging
51 Stockbridge St.
Michael Moriarty

Orange Theory Fitness
7 South Maple St.
Silverstrand Fitness 2, LLC

Sound Systems
23 Newton Lane
Michael Wiater

Southern New England Spice
35 Lawrence Plain
Joseph Oleksak

Together Physical Therapy
245 Russell St.
Robert Hurley

Twin Oaks Farm
116 Stockbridge St.
Edwin Matuszko

HOLYOKE

A Plus Convenience Store/Smoke Shop
301 High St.
Naila Akram

Bugalu Ballroom
120 High St.
Emily Ortiz, Militza Carattini

E & C Services
19 Concord Ave.
Edward Glica

Fitzgerald’s Inc. of Holyoke
224 Westfield Road
Michael Fitzgerald

Highland Non Stop Cuts
1375 Dwight St.
Ruben Rodriguez

Loose Gravity Management
62 Main St., Suite 3
Joelisse Garcia

Springdale Lunch
827 Main St.
Araceli Lopez Rivera

LONGMEADOW

JKA, LLC
45 Mayfair Dr.
John Kim

Tremblay Maison, LLC
153 Longmeadow St.
Alexandra Tremblay

Zen’s Toyland
44 Tania Dr.
Harshal Patel

LUDLOW

John Pedro Real Estate Associates
77 Winsor St., Suite 203
John Pedro Sr.

NORTHAMPTON

Forest Flowers
25 Market St.
Marisa Filippone

Hannah Tsutsumi Crowl
16 Center St., Suite 511
Hannah Crowl

Hissho Sushi
228 King St.
Lwin Family Co., LLC

National Grid
548 Haydenville Road
Massachusetts Electric Co., National Grid USA Service Co. Inc.

Rhodes, Bixby & Wakefield
125A Pleasant St.
John Rhoades, Keith Bixby, Jeffrey Wakefield

Rise Over Ruin
159 Bridge St.
Kimberly Tutor

River Valley Co-op
330 North King St.
Evan Lash

Salon 241
30 Market St.
Katie Clifford, Andrea Clifford

a saner way
83 Maynard Road
Roberta Saner Sullivan

PALMER

Delta T HVAC Service
2078 Palmer St.
Rebecca Girard, Timothy Girard

Palmer Counseling Center
1001 Church St.
Bonnie Gaumond, Beatrice Leveille

PTS Truck-Trailer-Construction Supply
1158 Park St.
Elaine Boone

Top Notch Abatement, LLC
21 Wilbraham St., Suite 208
Russell Orcutt

Your Comfort Zone
2094 Main St.
Jeffrey Drolet

SPRINGFIELD

Baez Collision Glass & Sales
424 Albany St.
Baez Collision Glass & Sales

Beacon Hospice
815 Worcester St.
Jennifer Guckert

Better Healthcare Solutions
1182 Parker St.
Allice Baiyee, Pierre Baiyee

Bob’s Computer Service
1432 Parker St.
Robert Gregory

Budget Home Improvement
48 Summit St.
Jorge Santos

Cleaning Service Expert
82 Blaine St.
Luis Pena

Coffee and Candles
75 Penncastle St.
Sujatha Rajarathnam

Gonzalez B. Construction
204 Oak St.
Alejandro Gonzalez

Good Quality Barber
494 Central St.
Good Quality Barber

Greg LaFountain Plumbing
1187 Dickinson St.
Greg LaFountain

JHS Shipping
2335 Main St.
Soraia Abdulbaki

Johnny Wraps
56 Redden St.
John Haire

Junior Trucking
38 Clarencon St.
Jesus Roman

L & G Domestic Cleaners
113 Massteco St.
Lisa Boteau

La Isabela Mini Market
26 Longhill St.
Victor Sanchez

Morning Star Care at Home
212 Wollaston St.
Keisha Lindsay

MVP Bookkeeping
48 Victoria St.
Valencia Maldonado

Nadeau Construction
38B Yorktown Dr.
Samuel Nadeau

OFD Construction, LLC
141 Mallowhill Road
Michael Brown

Pete’s Painting
245 Old Farm Road
Miguel Garcia

Rock Solid Remodeling
35 East Alvord St.
Hannah Freeman

Rumor Has It, LLC
836 St. James Ave.
Kya Petris

Rust Bucket Express
14 Bryant St.
Aaron Owens

S & S Wholesales Corp.
90 Pinta Circle
Sujari Omar

Smith & Wesson
2100 Roosevelt Ave.
Robert Cicero

Sok’s Siam
272 Worthington St.
Sokharun Yim

Soul Pole Dance and Fitness
125A Main St.
Amanda Cumberbatch

Springfield Commonwealth Academy
1 Ames Hill Road
Springfield Commonwealth Academy

Steve’s Alignment and Brake
170 Taylor St.
Roger Karrasch

Thompson/Center Arms
2100 Roosevelt Ave.
Robert Cicero

Wytas Marketing and Media
768 Belmont Ave.
Alex Wytas

YMM Services Inc.
295 Allen St.
Yasir Osman

ZMaster Productions
74 Lamont St.
Zulfiqar Manzi

WESTFIELD

Alessio’s Pizza
280 Southampton Road
Mejias, LLC

The Country Clipper
Sara Noska
9 Russell Road

Dancer’s Image
77 Mill St., #123
Beth Drugan

East Mountain Hemp Co.
East Mountain Road
East Mountain Hemp Co.

Frosted Swirls Cupcakes
36 Jeremy Dr.
Frosted Swirls Cupcakes

The Groomer
77 Main St.
Tracy Durkee

S & P Trucking
3 Provin Ter,
Silvano Paganini

Spirit of the Forest Therapeutic Massage
77 Mill St.
Donna Szuba

Stone Paper Silver
234 Bates Road
Stone Paper Silver

Styles by Sara
338 Springdale Road
Sara Auclair

Top to Bottom Cleaning
23 Reservoir Road
Lynn Cornelius

Whip City Music
126 Elm St.
Whip City Music

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Cashway Oil
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Charge-Less Oil
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Direct Results
2005 Riverdale St.
John Epstein

Fast Fill Oil
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Fuel Co.
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Gorecki Enterprises Inc.
1446 Riverdale St.
Mary Gorecki

Sharp Lines Painting
1583 Riverdale St.
Vanessa Horsman

Studio 20 Salon
1027 Westfield St.
Jennifer Venn

Super Petro Inc.
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Supreme Oil
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

Vickers Fuel Oil
75 Union St.
Michael Vickers

WILBRAHAM

PNCU Financial Services
2002 Boston Road
Charlotte Hansen

Profiles Hair Salon
85 Post Office Park
Sonia Flagg

US Database, LLC
299 Mountain Road
Garry Nickerson