UPDATE: Because of the Senate Caucus and Formal Legislative Session to take place starting at noon Friday, Senator Hinds cannot participate in today's events as announced.The Senate is expected to vote on the FY18 conference budget this afternoon.
His staff will ride the BRTA from Pittsfield to North Adams and attend the Workshop. The design thinking exercises will be led by the MCLA Design Lab team. Senator Hinds plans to call into the event at 1 p.m. from the State House.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State Sen. Adam Hinds is about to find out exactly how difficult it is to get around the county on public transportation.
On Friday, Hinds is taking a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus from Pittsfield to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, a trip that will take more than an hour. Hinds is doing it as his commute to meet with MCLA's Dean Jake Eberwein as the two host a design thinking workshop on how to improve the county's public transportation system.
"We live in a large, geographically diverse region with concentrated downtowns and rural areas. We have services and economies separated by large swaths of space and an infrastructure system that is often outdated and without reliable cell phone coverage," the Pittsfield state senator said.
"Improving our public transportation system is central to addressing numerous challenges that I hear about often: reliable access to employment and services, the ability to move to a better job, thereby improving quality of life, connecting to other transportation options, and beyond. This is the start of an ongoing effort to improve rural transportation options throughout my district."
At MCLA, Hinds will spend four hours with the MCLA Design Lab, a curricular and co-curricular space, to "reimagine" what rural public transportation can be.
The workshop will include representatives from the Berkshire Community Action Council, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the BRTA, Lever, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Berkshire Community College, MCLA, Workers Cities Pittsfield, the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Williams College. Others involved include students, employers, and other stakeholders.
The challenges of transportation in the Berkshires isn't new. For years officials in various aspects of public life have wanted to improve it but the rural nature of the Berkshires poses a challenge. The BRTA hasn't had sufficient funding to run fixed-rate bus routes throughout the county and the populations make it difficult to maintain rider population on routes in rural areas.
Now the BRTA has limited hours at night and weekends. That's particularly a problem with the tourism economy because those are the times when employers need the most amount of staff possible.
Recently, Andrea Sholler, managing director of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, asked to be involved with public transit planning because it means so much to her company. Becket is not easily accessible and those without personal vehicles are unable to work there. Yet, she has 75 jobs, mostly minimum wage, low-skilled jobs, available during the summer. Many of those go unfilled.
Similar stories have been told by numerous employers, specifically those in the hospitality industry and those who are removed from the urban areas of the Berkshires, over and over again throughout the years.
Meanwhile, Berkshire Community College officials have lamented the lack of transportation to get to their campus on the outskirts of Pittsfield because many students either don't attend or drop out because of a lack of ability to work.
Those in the public health realm say the lack of reliable public transit is a barrier to accessing health care.
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North Adams Glamping Project Moving Forward Under New Owner
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A glamping business that never got off the ground is now under the direction of a new operator.
The Planning Board on Monday approved a new special permit for Benjamin Crespi of Brooklyn, N.Y., to develop and operate an outdoor recreation resort at 976 Notch Road.
The property owned by Brian O'Neil was transferred to 196 Marine LLC, a New York limited liability company, for $1.45 million on March 16.
"We intend to operate a project as outlined in the permit, and I think we're very excited about this opportunity," said Crespi. "We understand the permit and the conditions, intimately. I think my background and experience will lend itself to a successful project."
He said the plan was to develop 48 sites as outlined in the original permit but that there may be some modifications of the placement of some buildings in the plans, for which he would come back before the board.
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The Mass MoCA Commission on Wednesday approved the seasonal restaurant to occupy the former Gramercy space, specifically the courtyard near the museum entrance. The restaurant would operate from Memorial Day until some time September.
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