Pittsfield City Council Calling For Answers To Poor Road Conditions
Snow during a recent snow storm left most city roads in slippery conditions. After yet another storm, the City Council wants to know what can be done better.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There is a notable change in road conditions once a driver hits the city line.
And some city councilors want to know why.
Councilors Kathleen Amuso, Barry Clairmont and John Krol have filed petitions calling for city administrators to find out exactly what went wrong.
"I want to know why our roads seem worse than others in the county?" Clairmont said on Tuesday.
"I understand to a degree why they weren't dropping salt but why weren't they sanding?"
Councilors and the mayor's office have been inundated with phone calls regarding snow removal all weekend.
The councilors are now asking Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Commissioner Bruce Collingwood and Kevin Swail of the Highway Department to come before the council and answer to what they believe is poor snow removal.
"There was something we didn't do or whatever that made our roads a disaster," Krol said. "It was absolutely treacherous. People deserve better than that."
Krol said he drove through Lee, Lenox and even state maintained highways in the city that had very little problems. But as soon as he hit Pittsfield, the roads were sheer ice.
"We did something terribly wrong. My petition asks for an explanation of our poor conditions," Krol said, calling it the worst snow response he has ever seen.
All three petitions are similar. Bianchi said Tuesday that the snow and ice removal was hindered by a number of reasons — from it being too cold for salt to work properly to a turnover in contractors. He said the city is running low on salt to treat the roads and will be ordering more. To read more about Bianchi's response, click here.
In an emailed exchange with councilors, Collingwood reiterated that the salt doesn't activate at subzero temperatures and that contractors for many of the side streets were having problems.
"We've had some issues with a few new contractors and they have been reinstructed or reassigned," Collingwood wrote in the email.
Krol said those answers aren't enough. He remembers working in the mayor's office under James Ruberto and fielding those calls from residents and said this storm's response was worse than ever.
In the email exchange, Amuso and Councilors Nicholas Caccamo and Anthony Simonelli said they hadn't noticed sand or salt being sprayed on city roads and that other towns' roads were in better condition.
"I do not think the private trucks are doing a good job. I am sure I am not the only councilor getting calls during and after each storm. Many people have said that the roads are good until you reach Pittsfield, whether they are coming from North or South County," Amuso wrote.
"Is there a plan to make this better? This just isn't right."
Clairmont said he has never received so many calls about any other issue that he had over the last three days.
Krol said it was after a few particularly bad storms that Ruberto hired John Barrett III to head efforts on snow removal. Krol said the city took snow removal seriously then and deployed more than adequate resources to handle storms.
"Now we've gone back to how it used to be," he said.
Clairmont says he wants the commissioner and Swail to explain the snow removal as well as the mayor to see if Bianchi will support his staff's performance or not.
"I want to hear the mayor's thoughts. I want to know if he is holding Bruce [Collingwood] accountable," he said. "You have to keep the roads safe. People pay their taxes and they deserve to have safe roads."
Krol said he witnessed three separate accidents over the weekend and Clairmont says he's getting calls from residents who want to sue the city for damage caused by accidents on slippery roads.
However, none of the three administrators are going to be required to come before the council by its next meeting on Feb. 24. The charter requires at least a seven-day written notice to compel the mayor or city employee to answer questions related to municipal functions.
City Council President Melissa Mazzeo informed councilors that the next possible date would be March 10.
Clairmont is hoping the three will come before the council on their own.
"I don't see why they can't come forward. That seems like the right and decent thing to do," Clairmont said.
Tags: city council, petition, snow & ice, snow removal, snowstorm,