Pittsfield City Council News In Brief

By Joe DurwinSpecial to iBerkshires
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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. 

Tags: appointments,   city council,   PEDA,   

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Berkshires Beat: Final 3rd Thursday of Season Features Walk a Mile Event

Walk a Mile

Upstreet Pittsfield's award-winning street festival, 3rd Thursdays, returns for the final event of the season on Thursday, Sept. 19, with the ninth annual Elizabeth Freeman Center Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. The largest free outdoor event series in the Berkshires, 3rd Thursdays are family friendly and open to all. North Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from West Street to Linden Street and will be filled with music, performance, food and community activities.

The annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" will be the main attraction at September's Third Thursday festivities. People will once again sport women's footwear in an effort to stamp out sexual assault and gender violence. The event steps off at the main stage at Persip Park at the corner of Columbus Avenue and North Street. Registration begins at 5 pm and following opening remarks, the walk starts at 6 pm. The participants will don women's shoes, or decorate their own and will take donations before, during and after the event.

Proceeds benefit the Elizabeth Freeman Center in Pittsfield, Berkshire County's domestic violence/rape crisis center. Advance registration is encouraged online. The Hoping Machine will be performing at Persip Park following the start of the walk.

In addition, 3rd Thursday will feature Whiskey Treaty Roadshow, a collaborative band that brings together five Massachusetts singer-songwriters in the vein of Americana, rock and roots-folk music, from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m., the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Zone near St. Joseph’s Church, which will feature the Barkha Dance Company (BDC), more than 100 vendors, miniature train rides and more.


Smoke alarm installations

The city of North Adams will partner with the Western Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross and the national Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to install smoke alarms in city residences on Oct. 8. Teams consisting of a North Adams firefighter Red Cross volunteer will visit pre-registered homes in North Adams to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as well as to educate homeowners on fire safety and personal preparedness.

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