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Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio has started of his first term in a decade by submitting nearly 20 petitions.

Pittsfield City Councilor Brings 16 Petitions to Meeting

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Newly elected Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio started his term with a slate of 16 petitions ranging from simple municipal updates to new initiatives.
 
"They are just things that came up over the campaign trail," Maffuccio said before the City Council meeting Tuesday. "People talked to me about these things and while they are fresh in my head I'd like to put the ideas right out there." 
 
The majority of the petitions were kicked off to separate committees, subcommittees, or departments. Many that made the agenda were also routed to committees, subcommittees, or departments by Council President Peter Marchetti.
 
Maffuccio first asked the city assessor to provide a list of vacant lots and buildings and a date for public auction. This was directed to the Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood who said this list already exists and will be made available to councilors who not yet have it.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell asked about a surplus property sale and Kerwood said there would be one in the near future.
 
"We have maintained a list of properties we are interested in disposing of. There is one parcel that is key to that and we are in the process of making sure that that property is in a position for us to declare it surplus," Kerwood said. "Once we have done that we will move to auction."
 
He said ideally this would happen in the next three months 
 
Maffuccio also asked that the chief sanitation officer provide an update on the enforcement of waste in the city. This was also referred to the Board of Health.
 
Maffuccio's reason for the petition was that he thought before making changes to the current program the city needs to make sure its current policies are being enforced. He added that he thought there was a lot of abuse of the system.  
 
He also asked to amend the city code in the collection of solid waste and asked that the city limit collection to residential structures containing four or fewer units. He advocated for a service charge to be levied against the owners of four family properties unless they are owner occupied properties.
 
He also asked that this same rule be applied to properties with two or fewer units.
 
This was referred to Ordinance and Rules. Councilor at Large Earl Persip did oppose this referral. 
 
Maffuccio asked for a way to preserve the Berkshire Carousel, owned by a nonprofit, and looked toward the mayor and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvierto find a way to keep the closed carousel in Pittsfield.
 
A request for an update on the Peck's Road bridge was sent to the commissioner of public works and a presentation of the vacancy rate on North Street was sent to the director of community development and Downtown Pittsfield Inc.
 
A request was sent to the fire chief to look into a home-based ambulance service and a petition was sent to the mayor in regard to the replacement of the police station. Also sent to the mayor was a request to revive the city's Youth Commission.
 
Three petitions were sent to the School Committee and Maffuccio asked that they look into vocational training to the public, update the council on the conditions and repairs needed in the schools, and possibly establishing an indoor walking program in the schools for the public.
 
Maffuccio also asked for an overview of the General Electric Property but this was sent to Pittsfield Economic Development Authority.
 
A petition was sent to the city solicitor to provide an update on the tax title process.
 
A petition asking the finance director to give an overview of the city's financial standings was placed on file because this has already been scheduled.
 
Maffuccio said he had some more petitions he wanted to bring before the council in the future.
 
"I still have some more but I am going to front load with these and go from there," he said. 
 
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi also had a petition requesting that the director of community development provide an update on the former Morningside Fire station and the former Hess station at the council's next meeting.
 
The historic building has been out of service since 1970 and now sits in disrepair.
 
The city has looked to offload it to the right developer over the years and has released multiple requests for proposals since 2013 but there were no substantial bids even after some interest in building tours.
 
It is believed there's still some interest in the building with developers Paula Messena and Scott Graves publicly announcing their interest in the building.
 
The city does plan to release another RFP however it will likely be the last. Kerwood said at an earlier meeting that if there are no bites the city has to take a serious look at demolition.
 
As for the Hess station on Tyler Street, Tyer in May announced that she is seeking funds to purchase the blighted property and turn it into green space.
 
The project would be part of the Tyler Street renovation initiative however the current owner would have to be willing to sell the property. 
 
Before closing, the City Council referred a petition from resident Alex Blumin to the mayor asking to change the mayoral term from four years back to two.
 
This would require a charter change and Council President Peter Marchetti said the city is due for a charter review.
 
Residents approved substantial charter changes, including lengthening the mayor term, in 2013 with a 4,688 vote in favor to only 1,491 against sending the overhaul to the Legislature for approval. 
 
Marchetti said the bulk of the changes really did not come into effect until 2014 and per the city charter a review must take place after a five-year interval on either a year ending in a five or a zero.
 
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Pittsfield Gets 475K for Second Installment of Block Grant Funds

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield received its second allocation of Community Development Block Grants in the amount of $475,103.00.

The federally funded program is designed to help small cities and towns meet a broad range of community development needs.

In total, the city has received $1,264,444. The first allocation was accepted by the City Council on April 28, 2020. These two allocations are separate and in addition to the city's annual entitlement allocation.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mayor Linda Tyer submitted an order to amend the CDBG annual Action Plan for the program year 2019-2020 to provide a special allocation of CDBG funds in the amount of $475,103.00.
This $475,103 allocation is proposed to be spent as follows:

  • $325,000 for small business assistance
  • $50,000 for human services
  • $129,000 for rental assistance
  • $50,103 for administration

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned the $50,103 that is purposed to be spent in administration. The conversation got slightly heated as Connell questioned Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer on where the administrative costs go.

Connell asked Director of Finance & Administration/Treasurer Matthew Kerwood why salary line items remain the same come budget time when they received CDBG funding, wanting to know where that extra money goes.

He said this has troubled him for some time and that it seems like a black hole that some of these funds are going into. There has to be some decrease in line items for these positions if they receive these administrative costs from the grant, Connell added, because he knows that half of Ruffer and Program Manager Justine Dodds' salaries come from it.

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