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Pittsfield Launches Tool To Track Airport Noise Complaints

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — For those who live near the airport, the sounds of aircraft can get annoying. 
And when that happens, often the residents call the mayor's office, Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers, or the airport directly and there doesn't seem to be much of a resolve. Airport Manager Gloria Bouillon is now trying to change that. 
"I want to develop a good relationship with community members," she said.
While she may not be able to restrict certain aircraft traffic, if she can find trends with pilots or organizations, she might be able to ask for persistent issues to be mitigated.
Bouillon and the city have now teamed up to launch a streamlined form for residents to report nuisance aircraft.
Bouillon hopes to use the information collected for that to map out and identify concerns. If there are pilots who are breaking procedure, she can contact them. If it is military training but often isolated to hovering in one particular place and time, she can put it together and ask for patterns to be modified to go over less densely populated areas. 
"We can ask the operators to instead of hovering over one area or conduction approaches in one area to move to less populated areas," Bouillon said, though the actual changes in course would be left up to the organizations using the airport.
The noise complaints have previously been attributed mostly to military training out of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. But, Bouillon said that's not always the case. In order to know, she needs to know what type of aircraft, the time, and the location.
Identifying exactly what the concerns may be hadn't been easy in the past. The calls would go in three different places, lack pertinent information about time, location, and often there wouldn't be contact information for the airport to follow up with the resident about what exactly caused the disruption.
"It's taking a lot of time to gather that information. This is a much more streamlined process," Bouillon said. "I've received calls with little information... It is hard to identify exactly what it is."
Wednesday and Thursday evenings are typically when there is military helicopter training. The airport is considered to be located in "mountainous terrain" so it is an ideal spot for pilots to learn certain techniques. But not every noise issue can be attributed to that and if there are other organizations irritating the neighbors, then Bouillon can help work toward a solution to problem spots.
"It was quiet for two months [in the winter] and more recently it has picked up," Bouillon said of the number of complaints she's received.
The airport manager does admit, however, that sometimes the complaints are subjective. While there are some residents who don't find the noise offensive, there are others close by who do. 
"It all depends on the individual," she said.
The process won't solve all of the noise complaints, but it at least opens up a stronger line of communication between the residents and the city regarding the issue. 
"I hope to start building an understanding in the community," Bouillon said.
Complaints can now be submitted online here.

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Pittsfield 12-Year-Olds Earn Walkoff Win in Little League Sectional

By Stephen Sports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Dave Wildgoose ripped a single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth to score Anthony Hill Friday and give the Pittsfield Little League American Division All-Stars a 5-4, come-from-behind win over Agawam in the 12-year-old sectional tournament.
Cam Harrington and Mitch Hall each singled in the seventh-inning rally, which started with the visitors clinging to a 4-3 lead at Deming Park.
"I just tell them to stay confident," Pittsfield manager Matt Stracuzzi said. "We're a confident team, and I just keep preaching to those guys: Just be confident. Don't get down on yourselves.
"Just because we're down a run or two, it doesn't mean this game is over."
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