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The new ‘dystopian’ Great Barrington downtown streetscape

In his letter to the editor, Chris Blair of Monterey writes: The new treeless Main Street in Great Barrington, with its pole-punctuated, sodium-pink illumination, is like some Gregory Crewdson image of a dystopian moment.

To the Editor:

We witness, I think, an American isolationism expressed by voters trending towards Mr. Trump. There is much sentiment to work with America at home; to fix problems here; and to improve the lot of Americans now. I neither support nor ignore this sentiment because adjacent to being grateful for what I have here I see disadvantage all around as far as economic, educational and home-ownership opportunities. What happens when I turn my attention to my local orbit?

During my drive home Wednesday about 7:45pm going from south of town [Great Barrington] on Route 7/Main Street to Route 23 east to Monterey I was intensely aware of the “pole” elements of the new Main Street reconstruction. Absent the trees we are given a lovely view of the architecture of the Main Street facades. At dusk, however, the pattern of new light poles with their sodium-pink tinge rendered the streetscape from the car-vantage rather reminiscent of a Gregory Crewdson image of some distopian moment.

In addition to this cue I see the enormous, out-sized traffic light poles. I understand all this is in a treeless but pre-tree moment. Nonetheless, it is not a neutral addition for better sidewalk/street lighting and traffic control; the poles have introduced a very jarring element. Have the poles knitted together a richer environment? Have the poles encouraged me to walk the streets of Great Barrington? No and no.

In fact, what it feels like is some bypass that encourages me to pass on to the next, softer, less fettered street. These poles exist in a specification book or tool kit for the designers. They solve an equation for the car not for the residents. As it looks now it is a big fail in my book. I can only hope the street trees chosen and to be installed will soften or obscure the forest of poles and add back the lovely texture that was here in the past.

Chris Blair


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