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Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood answers questions from the City Council about the new recycling agreement.

Pittsfield City Council Approves Recycling Agreement

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday approved a new recycling contract with the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility.
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood and City Engineer and interim Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales fielded questions from the council about the new contract that will include increases.
 
"This is a paradigm shift for communities in Western Mass ... we recognize this but we also recognize that recycling is important and has to continue" Kerwood said. "We have to adjust and recognize the market has changed and we are seeing a situation where we have to pay to have these materials processed."
 
The city was prompted to revisit their agreement with the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility last year when it was announced that the Department of Environmental Protection contract with the operator would expire in June. The state agency had to seek a new operator for the facility and DEP came to an agreement with WM Recycle America, which ran the facility in the past.
 
Much of the contract would stay the same but there were some changes. Most notably the new processing fee that will start at $93.50 per ton that the city will be responsible for. This fee will fluctuate depending on the market .
 
Kerwood said this increase would most likely be placed in the solid waste disposal line item of the budget. He said if the numbers stay consistent, the city would be looking at a $178,000 increase. 
 
This drew the concern of Councilor at Large Earl Persip, who noted the line item has increased over the years. In fiscal 2020, it was $1.3 million and in 2018, it was $966,000.
 
He said he was trying to make the point that the city needs to start thinking about the way it disposes of solid waste. He said they need to recycle more and throw out less.
 
"It is time to really start thinking about what we are doing with recycling and what we are doing with unlimited trash," he said. "The cost is not going to go down and we need to really consider pay as you throw or toter. It has to change."
 
This fee could fluctuate depending on the market and over the life of the contract the fee is expected to increase by 2.5 percent every year.
 
The contract has the potential to span 15 years. At the maturity of the first five years, the city can negotiate this 2.5 percent increase. This would happen again in another five years if the city decides to stay in the contract. 
 
There is also a new tonnage requirement of 17,000 for communities participating in the dual stream program. This was a concern of Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi who asked if the contract would be jeopardized if communities drop out of the program.
 
Morales said Pittsfield typically contributes 1,800 tons a year and is one of the largest users. He said if Pittsfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, or another large community in the dual stream drops out they will still be over this 17,000 check point.
 
Furthermore, he said all of these communities have been in contact and no one is looking to leave. 
 
"We have all been meeting together to come up with a regional decision because if enough of us leave the contractor will stop operation," he said. "We have all been saying that we are going in." 
 
Kerwood was asked if the city looked at other options and he said they looked at options other communities considered, including Casella.
 
He said they could not offer a competitive price and noted transportation comes into play. If the city were to go with Casella, it would have to truck materials to Auburn, N.Y., or Rutland, Vt. 
 
"You have to factor that in," Kerwood said. "You have to get it there."
 
Kerwood said there are also some materials the facility will no longer take. This includes shredded paper and aerosol cans. He said the city is looking at partnering with private entities to provide residents an outlet for these materials. 
 
In other business, the council sent the Tyler Street zoning amendment to Ordinance and Rules for consideration. 
 
The petition originally came from the Community Development Board that acted as petitioner on the amendment that would modernize zoning in the area that stretches from First Street to Woodlawn Avenue.
 
The amendment would accommodate modern uses such as shared work spaces, live/work spaces, and other mixed uses. The most substantial zoning change would occur in the southeast area that would be rezoned from Commercial, Warehouse and Storage to General Business aligning with the current use that is mostly residential at the moment.
 
The amendment also sets up the framework for the development of three-family dwellings and aligns parking standards with the rest of the downtown, making it easier for businesses to move in.
 
The City Council appointed June Green to the Council of Aging and John Quinn to the Police Advisory Board.
 
• The City Council accepted a $1,300 grant from the MED-Project Drug Stewardship Program for the Police Department. The funds will go toward paying officers to safely process turned in pharmaceuticals. Instead of using overtime funds, this grant will properly fund the service.
 
• The City Council accepted a $99,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. These funds will be directed toward the removal of the Mill Street Dam.

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Brewery Planned For Downtown Pittsfield

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council will consider a tax financing agreement with 41 North Tap Room, which has eyed North Street to develop a brewery, tap room and kitchen.
 
The council on Tuesday referred an allocation of funds from the Economic Development Fund and a tax increment financing agreement to benefit the development of a brewery and tap room at 41 North St. 
 
"Prior restaurants that have occupied the space proposed for the brewery and tap room have struggled, in part due to the size and layout of the space," Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer wrote in a letter to City Council. "The proposed development of a brewery in this space is able to take advantage of ... the layout and size of the space, thus, increasing the likelihood of long-term success for a business in this critical location in the center of downtown." 
 
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