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Health Director Gina Armstrong and Parks and Open Space Director Jim McGrath are both pleased with the new regulation.

Pittsfield Parks Go Smoke Free On Monday

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The first signs were installed on Wednesday. All of the parks will have signage by Monday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The air will be a little fresher in the city's 29 parks next week.
On Wednesday, city workers began the installation of no-smoking signs on all city parks and playground in anticipation for when new smoking rules go in effect.
More than 1,000 acres of open space will now be smoke free as part of the Board and Health and the Parks Commission's new regulations.
"Most importantly it will reduce secondhand smoke and it will reduce trash," said Health Director Gina Armstrong.
The ban in parks was part of a larger overhaul of smoking regulations. The changes include reducing the number of vendor permits, stopping new vendors from opening near schools, and implementing bans on certain packaging and prices.
However, the parks ban was particularly supported by the community.
"We were really thrilled with the support from the community. There was a lot of advocacy," Armstrong said.
In May, resident Tyson Edwards went to the City Council asking for the ban. He then gathered signatures on petitions to help support the Board of Health's decision. Edwards started advocating for the issue after seeing children running through clouds of smoke in a city park.
The Parks Commission joined the Board of Health in implementing the ban.
"I think the biggest benefits from no smoking in parks is that non-smokers won;t have to compete with smokers for their enjoyment," said Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath.
McGrath cited health benefits as the main benefit from the ban. But, added that litter reduction is a "side benefit." 
"Cigarette butts and empty cigarette packs have been a perennial problem and it is most notable in our playground areas," McGrath said.
The ordinance goes into effect Monday but the city won't have anybody out there enforcing the new rules. Armstrong said as with similar bans in other municipalities, park patrons have essentially policed themselves.
"Our initial approach is all about education ... it will take some time for everyone to be aware of [the rules]," Armstrong said. "We're hoping that through education and asking people to be respectful of each other, we will have success."
However, if things do get out of control the Board of Health does not have the authority to take action against a violator. Armstrong is hoping that doesn't happen.
"We are looking at this as primarily a self enforcement thing," McGrath said.
With more than 1,000 acres now smoke free, McGrath is hoping to take it to the next level and implement similar bans on conservation land. He says he will bring the idea to the Conservation Commission soon.

Tags: public parks,   smoking ban,   smoking regulations,   

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Pittsfield Preparing Morningside Fire Station RFP

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city plans to reissue another request for proposals for the Morningside fire station with developers' interest ramping up.
The City Council on Tuesday heard from Paula Messena during public comment who said she and her partner Scott Graves were interested in developing the long vacant fire station.
"I stand before you today publicly announcing our interest in the Morningside fire station," she said. "Scott Graves and I have shown on numerous occasions interest in the building but have never officially been acknowledged by the city."
Graves purchased the YMCA boathouse on Pontoosuc Lake and renovated it as the Rusty Anchor. He recently ran in the preliminary election for mayor on a platform focused on the red tape he says makes it difficult for developers to save old buildings and start businesses. 
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