The supercenters often have a salon inside the building so one would think Castoldi would be worried about competition — especially competition from such a large corporation.
But he's not.
"I don't worry about competition. If you give a person what they want, they'll come back," Castoldi said.
In fact, Castoldi says if anything the store will be bring more visibility to his business with more cars and foot traffic. He's been there for years and hasn't seen anything happen with the William Stanley Business Park so he sees the proposal as a good one not only for the neighborhood but for the whole city.
Not every one shares his view though. Ever since Waterstone Realty proposed the project there have been divisive views on it and emergence of campaigns for and against the project.
"I just can't understand the negativity," he said. "The more people you bring to the area, the more exposure you get. So why fight that?"
Castoldi prefers not to use the term "big box store" and says instead "I call it an anchor store. If I was a big businesses like a Home Depot or Lowes, I would want to be next to a Walmart." He added that in 2014, Walmart gave some $1.4 billion to charities, another positive of the company.
Dipak Shah owns Kirks Variety and he says the new Walmart won't make much of an impact. He sells groceries, which may take a hit, he said, but the supercenter won't be selling lottery and cigarettes which draws people in. He says if the Walmart is built, there will be increased traffic and people will be stopping in for those items.
"I like traffic. It is good for business," Shah said.
About a half-dozen Tyler Street businesses shared those same sentiments on Friday when House of Representative candidate and City Councilor Christopher Connell stopped in with a list of seven questions asking about the impacts — from whether a new bus stop at the location will help or hurt to increased foot traffic to construction — the supercenter will have. All but one of the businesses praised the project.
"I think it came out pretty positive. Most of the business owners were looking forward to it with a few exceptions to some of the questions," Connell said. "I was kind of surprised. I was expecting, especially like the convenience store, to say it was going to dramatically affect their business. He's all for it because of the increased traffic."
Alper Kuruca, who owns Pizza Works, said the negative impacts from Walmart have already hit the area. The Walmart in the Berkshire Crossing already attracts customers away from the smaller businesses.
"If it is going to be a new Walmart then you could say it [would hurt business]," he said. "If people want to go to Walmart then they are going to go there."
The owner of Gilly's Snowboard Shop considers it an expansion and not a new store. The manager at J+J Lock says her customers already go to Walmart and come to her store when Walmart doesn't have the products they're looking for. The manager at La Fogata said more traffic is good for the restaurant.
"These are small businesses. A loss of 10 percent sales could put them out of business. But I didn't get that they were anticipating anything like that with this project," Connell said.
The independent candidate for the state House of Representatives has been on the fence. He likes that Waterstone will spend $12 million to ready the foundation, $6 million of which will eliminate and update stormwater systems. He likes that the company, so far, isn't asking for any tax breaks. And he likes that the developer says there is room to build off the big box store and bring additional businesses in.
Part of the project is also to renovate the Tyler Street and Woodlawn intersection, a welcome proposal for Kuruca, who says there are many accidents there.
But, Connell has been nervous about the economic impact to local stores. He is calling for an independent study of those impacts — though the businesses he talked to on Friday mostly said it wasn't needed. He hopes that study will put other businesses who are worried about the project at ease.
Dipak Shah is worried about a drop in the sale of grocery items at Kirk's Variety but feels the cigarette and lottery sales increase with more traffic would help.
"I think the study will help. I think it will calm the businesses on North Street because they are the ones I am hearing mostly the negative feedback. But, I am pretty encouraged by these businesses saying they really don't have a problem," Connell said. "If they are willing to go for it, they are going to be right in the front lines going through everything, construction, extra traffic."
Connell is the Ward 4 city councilor so he does have a vote in the matter. He plans, if elected, to retain that seat and serve on both the City Council and in the State House. Not only would he then have a role on the local level, but moving into the future he says he would be advocating for whatever state help is needed to continue to build out the William Stanley Business Park.
"As a councilor, I also need to know this also. I was on the fence and I wanted to get more information," Connell said.
Only at Tyler Street Pizza House did Connell find arguments against it, with the owner there saying the increased traffic could make it difficult for his customers to get in and he also opposed giving any tax breaks to the developer. But, there was no mention of decreased business.
With a mostly favorable opinion of the project, Connell says he is "leaning closer" to wanting to approve it. But, he wants to make sure the developer puts certain promises in writing.
In the race for state representative, Connell is up against the winner of the Democratic primary between incumbent Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who hasn't made a statement about the project publicly, and Michael Bloomberg, who adamantly opposes it.
"I don't know if any of my competitors in this race have even asked or polled any of these people," Connell said.
For the last 10 years Evan Hickok has formed good relationships with many of his co-workers at General Dynamics. They are recruited from out of town, come to work as engineers, and the staff at the Pittsfield facility grows a friendship. And then the young professionals leave for what they see are greener pastures. They leave for the city life of Boston or New York envisioning a thriving social scene and nightlife. But more often than not, the workers find themselves taking a job in the subur
The ultimate say over the project may come before the City Council, which will be asked to approve a special permit because of the size of the store. So far, the majority of the City Council says they are keeping an open mind about the project and waiting for additional answers.
Walmart's Director of Public Affairs & State and Local Government Relations Chris Buchanan says, "holding out hope for industrial development of the site does a disservice to the residents of Pittsfield." He said the cost to remediate the land, fix the stormwater runoff, and road work adds up to $12 million, a cost few companies would bear when there are other properties for development at a lower cost.
In an interview on Wednesday, Bloomberg argued that despite increased jobs and tax revenue, the city's long-term economic picture is hindered by such a development. He would rather the city took a more aggressive approach at bringing in light manufacturing and other higher-paying jobs to the site.
As the proposed Walmart Supercenter debate begins to unfold, the developer's claims of increased tax revenue reflects what happened in North Adams. In 2013, the company closed the store it had been occupying for since 1993 and moved down the road to a former gravel bed. The gravel bed had been assessed at $1,613,800 and the redevelopment upped the value to $10,694,900, according to Ross Vivori, chairman of the North Adams Board of Assessors.
Finally. The Woodlawn Avenue Bridge is finally opened after being closed for a decade. City, state and Pittsffield Economic Development Agency officials commemorated the re-opening of the north to south connection between the Morningside Neighborhood and East Street. The bridge used to be own by General Electric and was closed in 2006 and was demolished in 2012.
Part of the selling point for the new Walmart at the William Stanley Business Park is that it will ease an environmental burden on PEDA coming down the road. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new draft permit for the Pittsfield Economic Development Agency's ability to drain stormwater into Silver Lake. That permit called for significantly better water quality than currently being done. PEDA has argued against it, saying it doesn't have the money to make the needed improv
Wal Mart is looking to move to the William Stanley Business Park. The Pittsfield Economic Development Agency granted Waterstone Retail a letter of intent, giving the company and exclusive right to pursue development of a 16.5 acre parcel known as "the teens," where General Electric buildings once stood.
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Children Learn About Wildlife at Richmond Free Library
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
Children pet Chili the chinchilla.
RICHMOND, Mass. — There were some furry and feathery guests of honor at the Richmond Free Library this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, founder of Nature Matters Jennifer Leahey wowed local children and parents with a presentation of live animals.
This event was sponsored by the Richmond Cultural Council, said Library Director Kristin Smith. "We are grateful for their continued support."
Though this is not the first time the library has hosted an animal event, it was Nature Matter's first time here. The event was at full capacity, and each of the socially distanced chairs placed in a semi-circle full of eager animal lovers.
The presentation was aimed at families and children of all ages. Leahey was chosen by the library because her programs are about connecting people with animals, because she rescues animals and turns those that cannot be released into animal educators, and because she is from Berkshire County, Smith said.
Additionally, this presentation was a safe, socially distanced event where all attendees wore masks.
Much of Berkshire Community College's original establishment is because of the work done by former state Rep. Thomas C. Wojtkowski of Pittsfield, who represented what was then the 5th Berkshire District.
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