DeSisto developers await permit from Select Board for 'Stockbridge Family Fun Day'

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Editor's note: The date of the Select Board meeting was updated to July 19.

STOCKBRIDGE — The Select Board has postponed action on an entertainment permit from developers of the proposed resort at the former Beckwith Estate, pending an engineering evaluation.

The evaluation was requested by Building Commissioner Ned Baldwin and Fire Chief Ernest "Chuckie" Cardillo, who's also a selectman.

At Monday night's meeting, Select Board Chairman Donald Chabon explained that tours of the mansion at the site of the defunct DeSisto School are part of a "Stockbridge Family Fun Day" planned July 22.

The free community event was organized by owner Patrick Sheehan, who acquired the property in 2009, and his resort development partner, Tony Guthrie, operators of 37 Interlaken LLC.

But the mansion is in dilapidated condition, requiring an evaluation of safety at the building, Baldwin told The Eagle. He added that the site has not been "condemned" or deemed unsafe.

The 37 Interlaken application will be reconsidered at the next Select Board meeting July19 at 9 a.m.

"The board will receive input from the engineers and anybody else at that time," said Chabon.

"How that will impact us, since we're advertising the event?" asked Guthrie.

"We feel it's important to get input on the structure of the building since you're saying you want to take people around it," Chabon responded.

Guthrie said the proposed mansion tour is "one small component" of planned activities. "If we have to do away with the tour part, that's fine," he added.

A neighbor, Susan Hirshfield, asked whether amplified music is planned for the event. Guthrie said musical entertainment will be provided by an unamplified string quartet from the Boston Symphony.

Plans for the property at 37 Interlaken Road (Route 183) involve a $150 million investment to renovate and expand the 1890s mansion into a 40- to 50-room inn, construct 139 flexible hotel-condominium suites in six adjacent buildings and then pursue a development of 34 single-family houses.

The Family Fun event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes guided hikes, a barbecue and a wandering minstrel, according to an announcement from the 37 Interlaken developers.

Guthrie and Sheehan said they wanted to show off the historic estate and mansion. The DeSisto School closed in 2004.

In addition to tours of the mansion, if approved by the town, the day's schedule includes a guided hike through the 320-acre property at 10:30 a.m. and "minstrel offerings" by Roger the Jester from 11 to 1. The barbecue is slated for 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The developers have held several open houses for Stockbridge residents this year. At the most recent, on June 2 and 3, about 100 visitors heard presentations about the partners' plans for the property.

According to Sheehan and Guthrie, surveys of visitors have found that most support their development plans.

The size of the project has aroused strong opposition from some nearby residents, while others in town have welcomed it as an economic development boost that would provide revenue from property and other taxes.

No official application has been filed with the Select Board, which would decide whether to grant the required special permit.

The developers have said they are awaiting results of a potential zoning bylaw revamp to be studied by a Planning Board subcommittee. The group is still being formed, and its proposed membership is to be submitted to the Select Board for confirmation, according to Ruth Pearce of the Planning Board.

Under the current zoning bylaw, some of the proposed uses of the property, such as a restaurant open to the public, are not permitted.

In addition to the hotel, condo units and single-family homes, the plans include an "agri-hood" community built around a year-round working farm at the foot of Yokun Ridge, which overlooks the site two miles south of Tanglewood's main gate.

The developers say most of the 320 acres would remain undeveloped open space and woodland.

Contact correspondent Clarence Fanto at cfanto@yahoo.com or 413-637-2551.


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