Jim Balfanz 

Monday August 25, 2014 

Most of the stated positions against the proposed restoration and development of the Elm Court Estate are exactly the type of arguments that were made when people objected to the Stone Hill and Bishop Estates developments.  Both turned out to be exactly as the Developer promised they would be done, and which many of the protestors of this project – after purchasing their DEVELOPED properties, now oppose a well-planned, project by a developer who has a proven track record of “doing it right.”
As for the objections due to traffic problems – many of us remember the history of the very adamant opposition to the relocation of the Norman Rockwell museum (NRM): that their primary opposition, was that it would create traffic congestion, and dramatically decrease the safety of those traveling on the narrow, rural, winding road with some obstructed views of the road ahead.  As has been well substantiated, the NRM traffic - which in 2012, saw 124,776 visitors, not including employees - has created ZERO traffic problems along that rural, winding road.
It should also be noted that another venue, Kripalu yoga resort, has no traffic safety problems while having as many as 620 employees and up to 625 guests per night.
The traffic for the Rockwell Museum and Kripalu is substantially more than even the most generous estimate of the total traffic in and out of Elm Court.
Further, similar to what the Developer of Elm Court has promised, the NRM located their parking lots out of sight from view from the road, properly screened them and installed parking lights that direct the light downward and not outward, making light “contamination” very unnoticeable from anywhere outside the actual parking lot.
As for jobs; it is interesting that the wealthy people conducting this campaign against the outstanding project to save Elm Court, demean the various NEW jobs as being beneath the dignity of working people.  From casual observation and actual experience, many people would welcome the opportunity to be employed at this private business which will include wages at various levels, and, which will add over $500,000 in tax income to the towns of Stockbridge and Lenox.  Additionally, those employed workers will in turn, help to sustain our overall local economy.  This additional tax revenue will help offset the many non-profits in our towns who pay no taxes.
Had these people, who object to this project, been around back in the 1930’s, they would have opposed the development of Tanglewood for the same reasons we are hearing today regarding a much smaller, much less impactful, Elm Court project.  Had they prevailed then, we would not now, have the anchor of the 19,000 second homes of people from all over the country, who help maintain our beautiful small towns without the additional burden of educating their children in our schools.  We live with the Tanglewood traffic – which according to their own estimate brings in more than 350,000 visitors annually. Add to those numbers the daily traffic of the many employees and volunteers who make Tanglewood what it is – a very valuable asset to our overall economy. The Elm Court project will bring substantially less traffic than the Tanglewood traffic, and will be spread out over 12 months, instead of over a brief 2 ¾ month span.  Most of our businesses and citizens are thankful for the presence and spending prowess of our cultural friends who visit Tanglewood, and will be similarly so with the visitors who come to Elm Court.
Finally, with regard to this project being too large, how can that be substantiated when the overall footprint of the proposed buildings will occupy a very small amount of the total property, thereby keeping the majority of it just as it is today.  With the new buildings being located behind and below the existing Elm Court Estate building, which will be beautifully restored, the beautiful vistas to and from the property will be maintained.
Many readers of the Berkshire Eagle know the term NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) When you review the facts of what this project entails, there seems to be no reason other than that term, to accurately describe the emotional, fear mongering, opposition to what years from now, will be as well accepted and appreciated as the Red Lion Inn, Cranwell Resort, Canyon Ranch Resort and Blantyre Estate are today.
Hopefully the Selectmen of Stockbridge and Lenox will approve this project and let Travaasa Experiential Resorts get on with improving our local economy in a most tasteful manner.
Jim Balfanz
4 Interlaken Rd
Stockbridge, MA