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Pittsfield Launches Tool To Track Airport Noise Complaints

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — For those who live near the airport, the sounds of aircraft can get annoying. 
And when that happens, often the residents call the mayor's office, Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers, or the airport directly and there doesn't seem to be much of a resolve. Airport Manager Gloria Bouillon is now trying to change that. 
"I want to develop a good relationship with community members," she said.
While she may not be able to restrict certain aircraft traffic, if she can find trends with pilots or organizations, she might be able to ask for persistent issues to be mitigated.
Bouillon and the city have now teamed up to launch a streamlined form for residents to report nuisance aircraft.
Bouillon hopes to use the information collected for that to map out and identify concerns. If there are pilots who are breaking procedure, she can contact them. If it is military training but often isolated to hovering in one particular place and time, she can put it together and ask for patterns to be modified to go over less densely populated areas. 
"We can ask the operators to instead of hovering over one area or conduction approaches in one area to move to less populated areas," Bouillon said, though the actual changes in course would be left up to the organizations using the airport.
The noise complaints have previously been attributed mostly to military training out of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. But, Bouillon said that's not always the case. In order to know, she needs to know what type of aircraft, the time, and the location.
Identifying exactly what the concerns may be hadn't been easy in the past. The calls would go in three different places, lack pertinent information about time, location, and often there wouldn't be contact information for the airport to follow up with the resident about what exactly caused the disruption.
"It's taking a lot of time to gather that information. This is a much more streamlined process," Bouillon said. "I've received calls with little information... It is hard to identify exactly what it is."
Wednesday and Thursday evenings are typically when there is military helicopter training. The airport is considered to be located in "mountainous terrain" so it is an ideal spot for pilots to learn certain techniques. But not every noise issue can be attributed to that and if there are other organizations irritating the neighbors, then Bouillon can help work toward a solution to problem spots.
"It was quiet for two months [in the winter] and more recently it has picked up," Bouillon said of the number of complaints she's received.
The airport manager does admit, however, that sometimes the complaints are subjective. While there are some residents who don't find the noise offensive, there are others close by who do. 
"It all depends on the individual," she said.
The process won't solve all of the noise complaints, but it at least opens up a stronger line of communication between the residents and the city regarding the issue. 
"I hope to start building an understanding in the community," Bouillon said.
Complaints can now be submitted online here.

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Berkshire Theatre Group to Present 'Godspell' Outdoors

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Theatre Group will produce "Godspell" this summer – the first musical in the United States to be approved by Actors' Equity Association in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The show will be presented outdoors in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, and is scheduled to run Aug. 6 through Sept. 4. Tickets will be available for purchase Tuesday, July 7, at noon. 

"We could not bear the thought of a Berkshire summer without live theater to support our community, so we jumped through every hoop to create a safe way to make this happen," said BTG Board of Trustees Co-President Lee Perlman. "I hope our production gives hope to the tens of thousands of theater professionals who are on the sidelines this summer. Theater is unstoppable and will be back”

Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire said "Godspell" got the green light after BTG established a strict protocol to protect the health and safety of the audience, the performers and others involved in the show. 

"We have been working daily and in the true spirit of care and collaboration with Actors’ Equity Association for the past several weeks," she said. "Guided by Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association Mary McColl and her extraordinary team, I have learned much about how to lead a theater in the new world. Our industry, which has been devastated by this global pandemic, will be served by their seriousness, data driven wisdom, and profound understanding of the need for artists to rebuild. 

"I am so proud that Berkshire Theatre Group, in its 92nd season will be authorized and granted the responsibility to produce the musical 'Godspell.'”

After careful consideration with the local and state government, Mayor Linda Tyer of Pittsfield and Actors’ Equity Association, BTG relocated "Godspell" from its original site at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge to outside under a tent at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

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