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Pine Valley Mobile Park residents want their roads fixed and to stop paying a rent increase that's not going to the park's septic work.

Pine Valley Residents Seek Rent Decrease

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The tenants at Pine Valley Mobile Home Park are petitioning for their rent to be decreased at an upcoming rent control hearing looking to settle the problem of unpaved roads in the park.
"We want to submit a decrease in rent ... Morgan Management has no plans on redoing the road at all," Pine Valley resident Roseanna St. Pierre told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. "They plan to refund us our money ... our lawyers told us they want to sell the place and leave it to the new owners."
The Selectmen, sitting as the Rent Control Board, approved a $7.20 monthly rent increase in 2016, $5.12 of which was to go toward repairing and repaving roads that were torn up during the installation of a new septic system.
This never happened and Morgan Management plans to sell the park.
A letter from Morgan Management's attorneys Kraus & Hummel indicated that a tenant reimbursement was being calculated and that the roads would not be paved.
St. Pierre added that, in 2014, the tenants had filed a lawsuit against Morgan Management after it was found that a rent increase did not directly go toward overdue septic repairs.
The court ultimately found this rent increase, of more than $60, to be illegal and ruled that it be reimbursed.
St. Pierre said the tenants are being reimbursed, however, the rent increase is still on the books.
"We are getting a refund but, in the meantime, we are still paying it," she said. "It did not decrease by $64; we are still paying it." 
Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the board members plan to discuss the roads with Morgan Management's attorneys at the Sept. 6 rent control hearing because they, too, fear Morgan Management is positioning themselves to just reimburse the tenants.
"We want to discuss with them this idea that they are going to refund the money and not do the road so that is not a done deal yet," she said. "We have something to say about that." 
As for the petition, Francesconi asked that the rent adjustment be added to the agenda, however, Selectman Robert Ciskowski said he wasn't sure if this was under the town's purview. 
"I am not sure we have jurisdiction," he said. "A court can overturn us and can tell us to go back and do it again. A court can't tell us what the rent can be."
Ciskowski asked that the town reach out to town counsel to inform him of the petition and to figure out what the Rent Control Board actually has the power to do.
"We will try to get to the bottom of it," Francesconi said.
In other business, the state was to provide the town with two trucks and drivers to help haul the invasive tape weed away from Cheshire Reservoir on Thursday. 
"The state will be there with the trucks and we will be there with the backhoe," Francesconi said. "We are very pleased with how everything came about."
The town was last plagued by the weed in 2016 and had to bring in SOLitude Lake Management to clean up the lake with a rake type mechanism called a harvester.

Tags: mobile home park,   

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Cheshire Selectmen Raise Concerns Over Data Security With School District

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is leery of a program being used by the Hoosac Valley Regional School District to assess students and the school community.
The board asked school officials to attend Tuesday's meeting specifically to discuss Panorama Education, a platform the district uses that provides reports that give educators individualized data they can use to inform their support for students' academic, social, and emotional learning.
"I think there are some issues that we need to work through as a community, and I think we can work together on navigating security issues that I can see being a part of the whole system and others related to software," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said Tuesday during the joint meeting. 
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