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.
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Pittsfield Students Receive Superintendent Award
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Emily Mazzeo and Alexander Currie have received the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendent's Award.
Superintendent Jason McCandless began Wednesday's School Committee with a presentation honoring two of the highest achieving students in the school system.
"This is one of my personal favorite things of the entire school year and these awards," he said. "We have a remarkable run here in Pittsfield of not only recognizing unbelievable distinguished intellects but unbelievable work ethics."
McCandless first brought Mazzeo, who attends Pittsfield High School, to the podium and read a letter from one of her teachers.
Mayoral candidates Linda Tyer and Melissa Mazzeo sparred over education during a debate hosted by the Pittsfield Educational Administrators Association and United Educators of Pittsfield on Tuesday night. click for more
The center's Executive Director Ben Sosne gave a brief update to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority last week and said board should expect a grand opening in the first half of January.
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The international home decor company's new $5 million call center will employ upwards of 300 people in the coming months in a newly renovated section of the Clock Tower Building fully furnished, of course, with Wayfair products.
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