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Economic Development Planner Laura Brennan updates the board on the progress she's made.

Lanesborough Looks to Be More Business Friendly

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen recognize Martin Coryell for 10 years of service to the town.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Efforts to make the town more business-friendly are well underway. 
 
In recent years, the town created an economic development committee and secured a state grant to share an economic development planner with three other towns. A second grant award hired Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to do a re-use study of the Berkshire Mall.
 
Laura Brennan, an economic development planner with BRPC, is now heading the efforts on behalf of the town. It started last year with the development, and subsequent release early this year, of an economic development plan. In the last six months, Brennan has been implementing the strategies outlined in that plan.
 
One particular effort is in marketing the town's outdoor recreational activities. Brennan said 12,000 flyers outlining the town's recreational aspects were distributed in hotel lobbies, restaurants, and other places throughout the county.
 
Next, she has been building a business network. There have been three events for local business owners to socialize, learn more about what others are doing, and potentially find possible partners. The first event was at Ramblewild, the second at the Lakehouse Cottages, and the third at Mount Greylock Campsite Park. 
 
"We have a number of businesses who have expressed interest in hosting in the future," Brennan said.
 
Brennan also updated the business directory that was printed in the back of town report. She said there are more than 150 businesses listed there. An e-newsletter was also launched highlighting what is happening in town and profiling local businesses.
 
"This is something new for Lanesborough but a great way to communicate with residents," she said.
 
Next up, Williams College students are expected to update the town's build-out plan. It was last updated 18 years ago under different zoning conditions and with different businesses operating in town. That plan will become a guide for where commercial operations can operate and whatever long-term zoning changes would be needed.
 
And lastly, Brennan's work on a reuse of the Berkshire Mall is still ongoing. The engineering firm Milone & MacBroom has been contracted to perform a report on the condition of the Berkshire Mall's physical structure. The group will also participate in public meetings and ultimately a document showing potential and feasible re-uses for the property will be crafted. Brennan hopes that can be a reference for the current or any future owners who may look to do something different there.
 
"This is a research effort from our perspective and no directive is going to come out of this," she said.
 
In other business, the Board of Selectmen banned dogs from town parks and cemeteries. The Selectmen had gone back and forth on allowing dogs. At one point they were banned but in the last two years, Animal Control Officer Jason Costa has been opening the parks back up to dogs. Signs were posted asking people to pick up after their dogs and Costa had installed dog waste-bag dispensers at the parks. 
 
But, it hasn't curbed the behavior of some dog owners. The Highway Department's worker's union filed a complaint with the Board of Selectmen saying they've been encountering dog waste on property it has to mow. 
 
"Once again people are using the parks and when the dogs are going to the bathroom, they aren't picking up after them," Chairman John Goerlach said.
 
The Board of Selectmen opted to again ban dogs from the parks. Town Manager Kelli Robbins, however, isn't so sure such a ban will work. 
 
"The people who are not following the rules right now are not going to follow the rules. They are still going to bring their dogs anyway so you are punishing the people who are behaving," she said.
 
Selectman Robert Ericson agreed saying, "the people who are going to allow their dogs to do it, they don't care."
 
The Selectmen are also considering crafting a new bylaw that implements a fine structure for those who have dogs in parks. But the board isn't against furthering efforts to make the bags more accessible for people. So the ban is now considered "temporary" for the rest of the year and the board will seek a more permanent solution. 

Tags: business event,   dogs,   economic development,   public parks,   

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