Kelly Gets Ready for Donnybrook

By John HitchcockiBerkshires columnist
Print Story | Email Story
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Former lumberman Jim Kelly entered the ski business some 40 years ago with no experience in that field and opened the Brodie Mountain Ski Resort in New Ashford after nine months of hectic work. 
 
In 1999, he sold the resort to rival operator Brian Fairbank, president of Jiminy Peak, and for the first time in half a century of intense activity had time to relax. Golf was Kelly's main form of recreation and, in fact, the Jiminy sale was consummated after several rounds of golf with Fairbank at Waubeeka Links in Williamstown. 
 
While the Brodie Resort sale included several hundred acres, Kelly still retained ownership of the Brodie Cross Country Center and Donnybrook Farm, with its huge stone farmhouse, all in Lanesborough. No one was surprised when Kelly began work on what appeared to be a golf course on his farmlands in 2000, but he insisted he was merely "improving my fields."
 
In 2001, Kelly submitted plans for a golf course to town officials, who promptly referred the matter to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Finding some matters of concern, the MassDEP required several changes to the course. Last year, Kelly brought professional course builders into the operation. 
 
Major work ended a few days ago with the first, eighth and ninth holes in playable shape and three other holes just seeded. Kelly has played the three holes and has pronounced them to be interesting, scenic and testing. 
 
The ninth features several bunkers and an irrigation pond, and all nine holes have the necessary piping and nozzles. Motorists on Route 7 have marveled for several years over the massive stone walls lining the western side of No. 9, a Kelly trademark as any Brodie skier discovered. 
 
(There is no longer any skiing or snowboarding at Brodie, with winter action limited to snow tubing and snowshoeing, while Fairbank is in the process of selling the ski property to Silver Leaf Condominiums Inc.) 
 
Kelly closed his touring center after selling Brodie but could allow cross country skiing after the back nine holes are completed. He has rented out the touring center area for various events, including the popular Pedro's Mountain Bike Festival earlier this summer, which drew more than a thousand people. And just this past Saturday, Ronnie's Cycles of Adams and Pittsfield sponsored an off-road motorcycle event for kids up to 17 as part of the New England Trail Riders Association's Junior Enduro Series. 
 
The writer of this column (that's me) is quite familiar with the Donnybrook Golf Course terrain. More than 25 years ago, I operated a ski touring center at Brodie (after similar ventures at Waubeeka and Greylock Glen), and at that time the skiing was done at the site of the first nine. 
 
I took one of cross-country skiing's pioneers, Joe Pete Wilson of Lake Placid, N.Y., around those rolling meadows and he said he could not believe that Massachusetts could offer "this high level of cross country terrain." 
 
A few years later, Kelly decided to open a touring center on the east side of Route 7, and I brought Williams College ski coach Bud Fisher to help lay out racing trails, which were used by Eph skiers for training and carnival races until they shifted to Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vt., with its usually deeper snow. 
 
Kelly, who has become an accomplished golfer known for his long drives, laid out the basic course with the help of longtime employee Mike Donlon, a low handicapper and avid competitor. 
 
Working full time on the project are two of Kelly's four sons, Matt and Doug, who were key members of the Brodie ski area staff. 
 
Jim Kelly and his wife, Dorothy, spend each winter at their home in southern Florida, where Jim plays golf regularly, sometimes with Harry Patten, Williamstown gentleman farmer and operator of Green River Produce and Turboprop East at Harriman-West Airport in North Adams. 
 
In the summer and fall, Kelly generally plays each Wednesday with his brother Don at Cranwell in Lenox and also some Fridays. 
 
Kelly has gone all out to build a high-level course, with four tees on each hole and a wide variety of terrain. 
 
One hole, the sixth, I believe, stretches more than 600 yards, fortunately all downhill. The stone farmhouse will serve as the pro shop and Kelly said he would like to build a country inn next to the ninth hole at some time in the future. He said he is not sure exactly when the project will be completed and still has some issues with the DEP, as well as getting golfers across Route 7. 
 
"I could be 70 by then," he said, "but it will be a great golf course!"
 
The golf course construction boom has slowed somewhat, but then, it never hit the Berkshires. The only new courses since World War II have been Waubeeka and Skyline in Lanesborough. And during that post-war period, nine hole courses were lost at Searles Castle in Great Barrington, Jug End Barn in Egremont and Rolling Hills in Lenox. 
 
Residents, particularly neighbors and environmentalists, usually fight any potential courses (read Greylock Glen), although no opposition has been voiced to date over a possible municipal course in Lee. 
 
Winter is coming, and many golfers have put away their clubs, although some courses will stay open as long as they are playable. Ski area operators are rushing to finish summer and fall projects, including new chairlifts at Bousquet and Berkshire East, as well as the two massive buildings at Jiminy's new Village Center. 
 
Okemo will keep its golf course open for awhile, but the big drive is the $55 million Jackson Gore development, featuring four chairlifts, 14 trails and a huge base complex with hotel, restaurants and shops. Opening date at the main Okemo ski area will be Nov. 1 or 8, depending on conditions. 
 
Mighty Killington has received natural snow and has made some snow, but spokesperson Kim Jackson said it will be another week or so before commercial skiing and boarding starts. Are you ready? 
 
John Hitchcock of Williamstown writes frequently about the area sports scene.

Tags: golf course,   

If you would like to contribute information on this article, contact us at info@iberkshires.com.

West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

View Full Story

More Pittsfield Stories