Bianchi Lays Out His 'Plan For Pittsfield'
Dan Bianchi said he wants to review the city's charter and look for ways to restructure it to become more efficient.
Bianchi laid out his plans to a large crowd at the GEAA on Wednesday, focusing on taxes, city services, education, economic development and job creation, expansion of open government and public safety.
"If you have a difference of opinion, you're marginalized. If you have an idea that doesn't match with the status quo, you are put down for it, you're marginalized," Bianchi said. "We've got to be a lot more open and a lot more inviting to people. I want everyone to be involved. You don't have to have a Ph.D.at the end of your name to serve on a board or a commission."
Bianchi said that if elected, he is committed to filling boards and commissions regular people, creating office hours for residents to just walk in and meet with him, host periodic ward meetings and upgrade the city website for residents to better interact with city government. Those plans are aimed to take the "politics" out of government operations.
"Far, far too often in our history we've seen a government that has been tied up and dominated by politics. It makes the operation of government inefficient," Bianchi said. "We're a 21st-century city with a 19th-century form of government."
Bianchi is calling for formation of a charter review committee to re-examine all aspects of the city's governmental structure, including the role of mayor. To help keep tax increases down, Bianchi is calling for another committee of retired professionals who will review the budget every year and look for ways to be more efficient and for annual re-examination of the roles of retiring employees instead of automatically replacing those positions.
"You can't always reduce things but you can making things better," Bianchi said. "We have an opportunity every year to review positions as people retire. It shouldn't be an automatic 'well, Joe retired, we've got to replace them.'"
Bianchi said he wants to plan the city's capital expenditures years ahead of time so that residents are not surprised by the annual bill. All investments should be handled in a more "scientific way," said the city's former finance administrator.
While Bianchi told the crowd that he believes the city can be managed better, he promised that he will not take office and begin firing department heads or other employees.
"I think with good management there is no need for layoffs, especially in an economy where we've got large numbers of unemployment and underemployment. The last thing I want to do is to be mayor and make it worse," Bianchi said. "There will be plenty of firefighters and, if I have anything to do with it, all the stations will be open, all the guys will be employed. That goes to the police officers, too."
Open government and long-term management strategies will allow the city to invest in education and small businesses, he said.
"I think we are on the verge of redefining ourselves as a community from the old manufacturing to the new community of the 21st century and it's going to be an exciting place to be," Bianchi said. "We've got to do what we can to really encourage the growth of our small businesses in the city ... What I'd like to do is create a pool of dollars that will help small businesses."
The city could not only loan money to small businesses from the free cash account but Bianchi said he would also like to take between $500,000 and $750,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and make it available for small business owners. Also to grow economic development, Bianchi said he wants to form a development advisory committee and designate some areas of the city as state-recognized business improvement districts to allow small-business owners to access additional state grants and loans.
While supporting local businesses is one goal, Bianchi said he wants to establish a marketing plan to attract businesses outside of the area — particularly in emerging green technologies.
"We need to always being thinking green. I would like us to be the green city that can actually attract from the green industry," Bianchi said.
Bianchi joked about the number of committees he'd like to form, throwing out an idea for a multi-unit homeowner commission to help examine the state of the city's housing. From code enforcement to light ordinances to even the amount of available affordable housing, the commission would discuss all aspects to improve housing for business that are interested in moving their operations to the city.
Encouraging businesses to move here will also mean improvements in the school system. Bianchi said the "uniqueness" of the schools needs to be emphasized so that students will start staying in Pittsfield schools instead of choosing other schools.
For the re-building of the schools, Bianchi said he supports a two-school system and said he will advocate the state of pay for renovations of both Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School. He said he will also encourage a significant study into vocational education to see if there could be a regional trade school. But whatever school system comes to fruition, Bianchi said he would support a debt-exclusion vote for the renovations.
Bianchi also said the schools need to look at sharing services, particularly with administration and technological support, and stressed shared services across the county.
"We've really got to start thinking beyond just the city of Pittsfield," Bianchi said. "I am confident that we can come up with shared services that will make sense and save money."
Bianchi said he would like to meet with boards of selectmen and find ways to help each other. For example, Bianchi said that both North Adams and Pittsfield have engineering departments and the two cities could find ways to split those costs. Once again, Bianchi called for retired businessmen and engineers to provide their own ideas of how to "streamline" services.
But it is not just the senior sector he wants involved in government; he's also advocating for the the formation of a youth commission that can weigh in on city matters. The young people will not only have a say but he wants them to be voting members on boards and commissions.
Those plans also depend on fighting crime, he said, and he would like to work with Sheriff Thomas Bowler to establish citywide neighborhood watches and establish October as National Crime Prevention Month, which could help the city secure extra grant funding to put more police on the streets, he said.
"There are some things that we need to do. We need to have proper planning and that is why, after talking with many of you, after knocking on doors, I've gathered the opinions of a lot of people and put together with my own... that's how my plan was developed," Bianchi said, add as the meeting ended, "When I prevail, I'm going to have a lot of people ready to work... I'm encouraged with their commitment, not with my campaign, but to the city."
Marchetti Lays Out 'Vision for Pittsfield'
As the campaign season comes to a close, Marchetti, currently councilor at large, has identified five major areas that he feels need attention and looks forward to working with the public, the City Council, School Committee and boards and commissions in the city of Pittsfield to work out details for a forward-looking vision for our city.
A mayor Marchetti will seek to engage the discussion that will bring the city into the next generation. Together, all parts of Pittsfield can come together to flesh out the details in the most open and above-board way possible. All can have a part, and all are encouraged to join the conversation with a Marchetti administration in City Hall.
Councilor Marchetti has served Pittsfield in so many ways over the last two decades. As a member of the City Council, leading the Fourth of July Parade or serving on boards and commissions, including Traffic and Conservation, the Helen Berube Teen Parent Board, the PCTV Board and the Morningside Initiative, he has grown in all of these activities and they have provided him a wealth of experience that effectively can be applied to being Mayor of Pittsfield.
This is the first of five statements:
First, Job Creation: I will develop an incentive program, utilizing a portion of the GE economic development funds, to support our existing businesses to grow and provide jobs. I will establish a small-business trust fund that will be used as needed to foster steady growth of our existing companies while pursuing more companies to locate here. With wise use of the GE economic development funds and support from the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. (PERC), both can be accomplished.
I will work to streamline our permitting processes for business expansion. My administration will build closer relationships between the city's Economic Development Office, PEDA, and the business community at large to fully tap the potential of the William Stanley Business Park. I will see to it that clearly established procedures are put into practice to enhance communication. In the current national economy, we must all be prepared to move quickly and decisively to capitalize on new opportunities. I see opportunities to strengthen locally owned businesses with a focus on new technology fields and our own plastics industry.
My experience in the private sector, and my community involvement, will serve the city of Pittsfield well. My 23 years at the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank enable me to see from a business perspective. Eight years of government experience as a city councilor, council vice president and chairman of the Finance Committee, have given me the insight into the constructive role that government can play. I want to see private, cultural and public sectors collaborate in a way that will benefit all of us. As your mayor, I will listen carefully and respectfully to everyone who wants to help Pittsfield to prosper.
I ask for your vote and support on Nov. 8 so that I may have the opportunity to serve as the mayor of Pittsfield - "One Pittsfield."
Please join in the conversation about our future. Thank You.
Bianchi Sets Meeting to Unveil 'Plan For Pittsfied'
"Throughout this campaign, I have been overwhelmed by the number of suggestions and concerns that voters have about issues in Pittsfield. I have done my best to incorporate their feedback — and my vision for Pittsfield — into a comprehensive plan for Pittsfield. Many voters have heard pieces of my plan throughout the course of this campaign, but it has always been my goal to share the specific action items of this plan with the voters of Pittsfield," Bianchi said.
"Because of the enormous interest in the special election for state rep, municipal candidates have had limited public opportunity to debate the real issues facing Pittsfield. Over the next three weeks, I will share my 'Plan for Pittsfield' as I to continue knock on doors and generate public interest on the differences between myself and my opponent.
"As we celebrate our 250th anniversary of Pittsfield, it is a time to reflect and plan for the future. My plan addresses taxes, city services, education, economic development and job creation, expansion of open government, and public safety."
Bianchi said, "This meeting will give everyone an opportunity to learn about my specific action plan to move Pittsfield forward. And, there will be an opportunity for the public to ask me questions."
Following Wednesday's town hall meeting, Bianchi will put his "Plan for Pittsfield" on his website at votebianchi.com.
Alcombright Highlights New Economic Projects
"In my previous communication, I outlined many of the positive economic things that have happened since I took office in January 2010. There are many things that have happened and many great things that are in our immediate and near future," said Alcombright.
"We will have a Super Walmart announcement within the next couple of weeks. Walmart has filed plans with our Building Department and there currently is activity at the site. This multimillion dollar development will provide much needed growth to our tax base and will bring up to 90 new full and part-time jobs. This project could also be the catalyst for further development of the parcel just further to the south as well as a remarketing effort of the existing Walmart. The projected increases in traffic through the Main and Marshall Street intersection could provide additional traffic within our downtown and to businesses along the State Street corridor.
"Scarafoni Associates and the Brien Center will embark on a private/public partnership that will provide approximately $1.5 million in renovations to the Transcript building on American Legion Drive. This effort assures that the Brien Center will remain in North Adams and that the 60-plus jobs they provide will remain, as well as the exceptional services they provide. And while the Brien Center is a not-for-profit entity, through the efforts of this administration and this partnership, the City is assured that real estate taxes exceeding $250,000 will be paid over the next 10 years.
"I am very excited about the continued progress of our solar initiatives. As we continue to plow through the negotiation and contract process, I, along with several from my administration, have been working diligently to bring a massive four-site solar project to the city. This includes solar arrays at the former landfill, the airport, the former sewer treatment plant in the west end, and the roof at Drury High School. The scope of this project is such that when completed, it has the potential to save the city up to $350,000 annually on electricity costs. This project is overwhelmingly attractive because it comes with no cost to the city.
"Another major project is the renovation of the former Haddad Ford building on Route 2 that will become the new home for Carr Hardware. This renovation will allow Carr to move and grow their operations, product line and will add eight to 12 new jobs. This expansion will also benefit our tax base.
"We are very close to a forward thinking, self-sustaining Mohawk Theater solution. I have been collaborating with MCLA and Mass MoCA for more than 10 months on a project that will provide an academic as well as a community theater solution. Combine this and all of the above with the $50 million MCLA Center for Science and Innovation project that has just broken ground, $3.5 million in improvements that have begun at the Greylock Valley Apartments, and the potential for school renovations and this city could have upwards of $100 million in construction projects beginning or happening in the city over the next 12 months.
"All of these projects will contribute to the growth of jobs, the growth of our tax base, will encourage people to locate here, buy homes here and educate their children here. I am excited to be a part of this growth and I will continue to look forward and not back."
Alcombright Outlines Platform: 'Together We Move Forward'
"With the election approximately five weeks away, I want to make certain my positions are very clear to the public including the positions I have taken on growth, schools, taxes and other opportunities. Through a succession of press releases over the next several weeks, I hope to show you that my positions and my decisions have been consistent with what was discussed two years ago. Most importantly, I want the voters of this city to see that the work that I have done, was done without political bias, political gain or political pressure. I truly want people to know that I have done what I have said I would do, manage this city, bring our finances under control, open up city government and create transparency, utilize the talents of many and begin the processes necessary to facilitate growth.”
Alcombright continued, "One thing that I spoke of two years ago was growth. The only way to stabilize our tax rate and to succeed as a community is through growth. The only way to begin projects, build schools, remediate neglected infrastructure is through growth. My campaign slogan this year is 'Together We Move Forward.' We cannot move forward by looking backward with only a handful of people making decisions. And while I have made some very difficult decisions, I have not made them in a vacuum. I indicated at one point that we are in an economic cycle whereby right now, it is difficult to spend and when you cannot spend, you must plan.
"Since January 2010, I have filled boards and commissions with close to 50 appointments tapping the energy, ideas and creativity of our greatest asset, the people who live here. Many of our boards were not fully appointed and many did not meet on a regular basis. Our boards and commissions are more active than ever and doing some great work. These are good people who are taking the time to make this city a better place. Unlike my opponent who wishes to have less involvement from the community, I want to reach out even more and invite greater collaboration.
"In this severe national economic crisis that has loomed for several years, I am very proud to have been part of what I consider significant successes in North Adams over the past two years. While many communities have lost ground, we have many great stories to tell. Growth at Excelsior Printing, Cariddi Auto, Shima, Shear Madness, Creations, The Transcript offices and I Got Goodies. We have seen four new restaurants - Rub, Desperados, Public and the Sushi House. My administration worked with private investment to be certain the Brien Center remained in the city at the former Transcript building, guaranteeing some $250,000 in tax revenue over the next 10 years. Walmart has installed a sewer system, our Juvenile Court is staying in the city, United Cerebral Palsy has established a new location on Union Street, Carr Hardware is engaged in a significant expansion, the Dollar Tree Store opened and we have secured $3.5 million in grants through the North Adams Housing Authority for much needed improvements in our public housing and we have completed significant roadwork. All of these accomplishments have retained jobs and brought new jobs while preserving our tax base. Again, all of this in the middle of a recession, with no money, just people moving this community forward.
"There are many other significant growth opportunities in the works and I will share those things in my next release. While some think that 'back' is the way to go, I will move this city forward through my continued efforts in working with a host of agencies, professionals, our neighboring communities and the public. We cannot survive alone and must look to the greater region to grow. I will not look back. I will continue to keep my vision clear and I will work with all who want to move this community forward."