Pittsfield City Council News In BriefBy Joe Durwin
Special to iBerkshires
06:00PM / Wednesday, February 29, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will submit an act before the state Legislature to expand the number of members on the board of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority from seven to 11.
The request came from Mayor Daniel Bianchi, who has expressed interest in expanding the board since the start of his administration. The act would amend a section of a 1998 act which created the quasi-public organization.
The mayor said that additional members will be needed to help tackle some of the "more involved, more labor intensive," goals he envisions for PEDA, "not just to help us with the development of the William Stanley Business Park, but to help us with economic development throughout the city of Pittsfield."
Bianchi listed specific disciplines he wants to see represented there, including background in financial and marketing affairs, but said he didn't want to be strictly limited to them.
"If we have good people participating- and we've had some very talented people offer to serve on the board- I don't want to be handcuffed by the disciplines that I've listed here," Bianchi said on Tuesday.
The city will also ask the Legislature to prohibit non-essential heavy commercial vehicles on Melbourne Road. This ban will not effect traffic deemed necessary, such as utility vehicles, delivery trucks, city plows, tow trucks or any other type of heavy commercial vehicles that have business to conduct or need to reach a location via that road. The act is primarily designed to decrease the use of Melbourne Road as a shortcut for commercial freight drivers.
A proposal to create a half million dollar fund to support small businesses was referred for discussion to the Subcommittee on Community and Economic Development. The Mayor is seeking the allocation of 500,000 dollars from the Pittsfield Economic Fund (formerly known as the GE Economic Development Fund) to create a new fund targeted to address the greatest areas of need identified by the city's Department of Community Development and the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. Applications will go through the mayor's office to PERC for review and recommendations. The Community Development department will aid business owners in applying and administer the program, over which Mayor Bianchi will exercise final approval. The subcommittee will hear the proposal at its March 14 meeting.
The council voted unanimously to refer to the mayor a petition from Councilor Barry Clairmont requesting that city departments and the mayor put forth a list of projects that the city would like to see done, but does not have the funding for, so that local businesses and individuals may opt to take them on.
"In the past we have had some businesses do this... I think we want to encourage individuals who are philanthropic in nature to come forward and help lend the city a hand with these projects," Clairmont said.
Clairmont's proposal included a provision that the party sponsoring the particular project would be entitled to have some sort of plaque honoring it at the site- or in City Hall, if the site of the project was not applicable.
In response to questions from Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan said there would be no legal issue with a small plaque thanking a business enterprise for a donation to the city, as this did not constitute advertising on city property.
The appointment of Jeffrey Ferrin to the Ambulance Review Board, which sparked strong division between several councilors at its Feb. 14 meeting, remained tabled while Mr. Ferrin is away
on vacation, but is expected to come before the council for a vote at its next meeting, March 13.