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The former Itam Lodge has been renovated and neighbors are concerned with extra traffic going to and from the place.

Pittsfield Grants Waiver For Proprietor's Lodge

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board on Tuesday granted a parking waiver to Proprietor's Lodge despite opposition from neighbors.
The former Itam building was renovated into a new reception hall and restaurant and the owner is looking to expand with a new ceremony room and a breakout space. But the neighbors feel the traffic congestion has gotten out of control and objected to the plans feeling that it will cause even more problems. 
The company sought a parking waiver but officials said they had no plans to expand occupancy. The building has a set capacity of 339 people and the new space would add another 71 to that. But attorney Dennis Egan said the company has no plans to seek an increase in capacity and that the spaces will instead just be for additional uses for the same number of guests.
"This parking issue has been happening for decades. It is more pronounced now because the facility is in more use," said Community Development Board member Gary Levante.
The board said that since the total capacity isn't changing, the waiver isn't going to address the issues that currently exist. However, to help ease the problems, the board asked for a parking management plan. 
Egan presented that plan on Tuesday. It entails operating a shuttle service from property Eric Taylor owns in Lanesborough for large events. When the venue's spaces are filled, the event-goers will park at the offsite area and be shuttled over free of charge.
He continued to say six spaces will be allocated for carpool only to encourage people to ride together and there will be a designated space for taxis, Uber, and other drop-offs. He said there will be a parking attendant on site helping control issues and that no person will be allowed into an event if they park on the side streets. Egan also said if attendance to an event is expected to have more than 250 people then the restaurant will close for the evening.
City Councilor Anthony Simonelli, who was in attendance, said new no-parking signs were put up and that he has filed petitions to make Overlook Road near the hall a one-way street and to install stop signs at the end of Constitution, Waubeek, and Spaniol streets. 
"The city is doing what the city can do to help with the problems," Simonelli said.
However, he called on Taylor to be a good neighbor. A number of residents spoke at two separate meetings on the issue saying there have been a lot of issues with traffic generated from the establishment.
"We have increased traffic throughout and a parking waiver isn't going to take that away," said Linda Pensivy.
The neighbors cited not only issues with parking and speeding but also the behavior of both guests and employees leaving the establishment at night.
The board tinkered with the parking management plan before ultimately approving it. 
"Even if we were to deny this permit tonight, every single issue you identified is still going to be happening," Levante said.

Tags: parking,   Planning Board,   

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Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing

BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year. 
"I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school districts."
The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low population densities and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 education aid and is intended to supplement the FY20 operating budgets of eligible school districts.
In order to qualify for Rural School Aid, DESE must determine that a school district meets two requirements:
  1. The "rural factor " based student density per square mile of a school district; and
  2. Ability to pay, or the average per capital income of a school district.
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