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The Pittsfield Police Station still has 'Welfare' above its main door, indicating the building's previous use.

Police Advisory Board Advocates For New Police Station

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Police Advisory and Review Board will draft a letter to City Council airing its concerns about conditions at the police station.
 
The board members last week discussed their recent tour of the station and were in consensus that something needs to be done about the aging facility. 
 
"It is not great for staff, it is not great for people that are being held there, and it is not great for visitors," member Erin Sullivan said at Tuesday's meeting. "It is just old and tired."
 
Member Alfred Barbalunga agreed and said parking and accessibility are major issues. He also questioned how safe the station was.
 
"They should rip the place down," he said. "It is the most dysfunctional police station I have ever seen. You can't even park the cruisers, they are up on the sidewalk."
 
Sullivan said the facilities such as the gym and shower areas are in bad shape and member Lynn Wallace added having such old facilities makes it harder to attract new young officers.  
 
"With recruitment issues and trying to bolster the force to keep young new people - would you want to work in there as a police officer?" she asked. "Wouldn't you want to work in a state of the art facility?"
 
The board also noted that there were safety issues in the building.
 
The 1930s-era structure across from City Hall was constructed to house social service offices before being enlisted to serve the Police Department. It's cramped, inefficient and outdated. The city had designs drawn up for a new station but attempts to secure state or federal monies toward the project have been unsuccessful.
 
Police Lt Jeffrey Bradford said newer stations were toured when the city was considering new station plans and the differences were staggering. 
 
"They are set up to be safe for the personnel, for suspects, and witnesses that are coming in," he said. "There is always a community room where you can hold community policing meetings and parking. We don't even have enough parking for our cruisers."
 
The board did not think there were any plans in the near future to build, renovate, or relocate the station but did note the land the station is sitting on had some value.
 
"The land itself and the value of it ... if the city were to sell it to a developer it would be huge," member Drew Herzig said. "It is prime downtown real estate and that would go a long way of offsetting a new police station."
 
Chairwoman Ellen Maxon asked the board to compile a list of concerns that she could include in a letter. She said she would bring a draft letter to the board's next meeting for approval.
 
In other business, the board voted to add a public comment period regularly to its agenda to encourage public input.
 
"We are not obligated to hold a public comment section but it is part of our mission," Herzig said. "It should be a standard part of the agenda."
 
The board agreed to follow the same procedure as other boards and allow for a three-minute time limit to comment. The chair can allow the discussion to extend longer at his or her discretion.
 
Also, the board agreed to have behavioral standards for participants and noted that it is not obligated to respond to any comment unless the chair sees it necessary. 

Tags: Pittsfield Police,   police advisory,   police station,   

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Innovation Center on Schedule For January Opening

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Innovation Center is still on schedule to open sometime in January.
 
The center's Executive Director Ben Sosne gave a brief update to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority last week and said board should expect a grand opening in the first half of January.  
 
"I was just through the building and it looks fantastic," he said on Tuesday. "I am really excited to get this thing open and welcome everybody in."
 
He said in the next few months they will be moving in tenants and figuring out final specs.
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