PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council rejected a $74 million capital request to renovate the wastewater treatment center late Tuesday night.
Shortly before midnight, the request from Mayor Linda Tyer to borrow for upgrades to the plant fell one vote short of the supermajority needed. Councilors Christopher Connell, Melissa Mazzeo, Kevin Morandi, and Donna Todd Rivers all voted down the project.
"I cannot move forward and vote on this, say yes, until all of the questions are answered," Mazzeo said.
The council only discussed it briefly at the end of Tuesday's five-hour meeting. The vote had been put off multiple times, with Connell using a charter objection two weeks earlier to thwart a vote.
The rejection could very likely make the city miss the next deadline as part of an administrative order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has warned the city that it is prepared to impose fines for not lowering the levels of phosphorous and aluminum in the water coming out of the plant. The project proposed by the consultants, Kleinfelder, also called for a nitrogen optimization process.
"Further delay also will result in increased costs of the upgrades and in the ongoing discharge of higher levels of pollutant to the Housatonic River for an even longer period of time. In light of the history of this matter and the importance of the upgrades to the protection of human health and the environment, please be advised that EPA is prepared to take further enforcement as necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of the permit should the city fail to meet its obligation to begin construction by August 1, 2018," reads the letter penned by Karen McGuire, acting director of the office of environmental stewardship.
The issue dates back to a 2008 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit restricting the flow of contaminants into the Housatonic River. The city had fought that in court but ultimately lost. Since then, the city put forth money to design a plant that would meet specifications laid out by the EPA.
The design came back to the City Council early this year and the administration sought to receive the borrowing authority for construction.
The City Council had many concerns over that design and debated over multiple lengthy meetings. But ultimately, not enough councilors were convinced to move forward.
At this point, it isn't clear what the vote will mean. But it is likely to come back to the council in the future, in one way or the other.
For more information, read our prior stories on the topic below.
The administration is seeking authority to borrow the $74 million in an effort to comply with an EPA administrative order, which calls for significantly decreasing the amount of phosphorus, and aluminum treatment, released into the Housatonic River. The plan developed in consultation with Kleinfelder also calls for a nitrogen optimization process.
The City Council doesn't want to rush into making a $74 million decision. Mayor Linda Tyer had put forth a petition calling for the borrowing of $74 million for a massive project with the wastewater system. The city is under an administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency holding the system to higher standards of phosphorus, aluminum treatment, and nitrogen removal. The project has been in design for about a year, coming after years of ultimately losing appeals in federal cou
The mayor is asking for the authority to borrow $74 million for a major upgrade of the city's wastewater treatment center. The expense has been a long time coming, starting with the city seeking to renew its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit in 2005. The Environmental Protection Agency oversees those permits in an effort to keep waterways clean and had issued a permit in 2008 requiring significantly higher standards of phosphorus, aluminum treatment, and nitrogen removal.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Hoop Club continues its long-standing tradition of supporting local student-athletes and celebrating the city’s rich sports tradition with the announcement of the Class of 2019 Scholarship Award Recipients.
Since 1998, The Pittsfield Hoop Club has contributed more than $85,000 to local student-athletes through their scholarship program. In addition to investing in the future of local student-athletes, the organization is also devoted to recognizing former players, coaches, and contributors to the game. Five senior basketball players, who are set to graduate this month from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, are being recognized by the Pittsfield Hoop Club – with each student receiving a $500 scholarship to be allocated to their post-secondary education.
“We are pleased to award these scholarships," club president John McLaughlin said. "The scholarship program has been a core part of our mission since The Pittsfield Hoop Club was founded close to 20 years ago. It’s gratifying to support these particular students in such a direct way.”
The Pittsfield Hoop Club scholarships are awarded at a time when the average annual college tuition hovers around $10,000 at public universities and $35,000 at private colleges, which does not include room, board, and other expenses. Kevin Codey and Tim Carroll, the Pittsfield Hoop Club Scholarship Committee co-chairs, noted the body of work that the annual scholarship recipients possess.
Two newly hired firefighters resigned after it was found they had falsely claimed residency to get a boost in the Civil Service exam.
The Civil Service Commission called for an investigation into the matter after a bypass appeal was filed late last fall. Justin Brady had taken the exam but did... click for more
The state hopes to see more renewable energy from solar and thus incentives solar development. However, the way the programs are currently established, the solar often comes at the expense of cutting trees.
"We have perverse incentives for solar. It is cheaper for a developer to come in and cut... click for more
Thanks to a $900,000 state grant, Herberg Middle School is poised to vastly improve the academics in the building.
Herberg has had low scores on state assessments leading it into "turnaround status" and Principal Martin McEvoy and Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning Lisa Lesser crafted... click for more
Christian Womble tossed a complete-game with 10 strikeouts and scored the first run, and Anton Lazits had a solo home run to lead Taconic to a 5-1 win over Wahconah in the Western Mass Division 3 championship at UMass on Saturday. click for more
When Brittany Sullivan lost her sister, her life spiraled out of control.
"When I was 14 years old, my sister died suddenly in a car accident. This sent me into a downward spiral that led me to drinking, smoking, and dipping into opioids, which eventually got me kicked out of my home at 17.... click for more