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Pittsfield to Consider Alternate-Side Parking to Facilitate Plowing

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Traffic commission will consider implementing alternate side parking to allow for better winter clean up. 
Councilors Helen Moon, Peter White, and Nicholas Caccamo introduced the alternate side parking petition Tuesday that the full council sent to the Traffic Commission for review 
"It is a method that is used in cities across the US and in the state," Moon, of Ward 1, said. "I think that if we were able to effectively implement it it would alleviate a lot of the burdens of residents living in concentrated areas without adequate parking."
Alternate side parking is a traffic law that dictates which side of a street cars can be parked on a given day. It allows for more efficient seasonal clean up and can improve better traffic flow.
Moon noted that it may not be a citywide solution and may only be effective on certain streets.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio said he appreciated the intent of the petition but recalled that the city tried a similar program 14 years ago and it only created more issues.
"At the time, we had set up a temporary scenario of this and the city did not get cleaned up as well as you think it would," he said. "More man hours were needed."
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell thought the idea was worth investigating but said, in general, the city has an enforcement problem it needs to address. He said people always park on the street during the winter even if they have available parking.
He requested that the police chief and Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales be present at the meeting 
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi agreed and said he would not support this petition for this reason. Before implementing new parking regulations, he said, the city needs to enforce the ones it already has and to ticket repeat offenders.
"We really have an enforcement problem in this city ... I understand that we are short staffed but this has been going on since I started on the council," he said. "It costs the city more in overtime with plowing."
Morales addressed the enforcement concern and said the city does not hesitate to ticket during snow emergencies but is hesitant to ticket residents who do not have alternative parking.
Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi agreed and said alternate side parking would allow the city to provide a parking option to all residents during the winter. Right now, it tickets people when they do not have a viable parking option.
"It really comes down to trying to create order in a situation that is chaotic, and it will give the city a better opportunity to clean both sides of the street," she said. "But it is more of a passionate way to give our residents help who may not have the means to park somewhere else."
As for clean up, Morales confirmed that he thought alternate side parking would allow for better snow management.
"Right now we are unable to plow the entire street," he said. "This would allow them to plow more efficiently. They could plow one side and then the other the next day or night."
Councilor at Large Earl Persip agreed that enforcement is an issue but thought there was no harm in sending the item to the subcommittee.
"I don't think this is a problem that we can't work out with the DPW and the police," he said. "We live in the Berkshires and we have no public transportation ... people need their cars ... let’s send this off to traffic and see what they come up with."
Connell did warn that if the council decides to make any changes, the city needs to do a better job educating residents on them.
"We need to have the education out there and I gotta tell you we don't do a good job with getting the message out," he said. "We need signage and we need to get the message out or people will be all over the place."
Morandi and Maffuccio were the only votes in opposition.
The City Council also filed a citizen's petition from a resident requesting that the council president have a limited term. The petition stated that a president can only serve for two terms and asked that it be enacted retroactively. After waiting a minimum of four years, they can be re-elected.
Current Council President Peter Marchetti recused himself from the discussion and the majority of the council felt there was no need to change.
"We vote for our council president. If we don't like him or her we can vote for someone else," Persip said. "It is a pretty simple process. I don't think it is broken."
He noted that the president was overwhelmingly elected in the last two terms.
Maffuccio agreed and said everyone has the ability to run for president or nominate someone. He added that the president has a lot of responsibility and it is beneficial to have an experienced president.
"The person that sits in that chair has a lot of responsibility and a lot on their plate," he said. "The longer they are there, the more familiar they are with the rules and regulations."
Connell thought the petition was worth sending to Ordinance and Rules and noted many elected positions throughout the country have term limits. He said later that it may even be worth considering term limits on council.
Morandi agreed and was interested in what other communities do.
"When you look at other communities I certainly would like to see what they do," he said. "I know a lot of boards of selectmen rotate chairs. I myself think it's good to do that."
Caccamo said the North Adams City Council has term limits on its president and that it may be worth reaching out to them. The North Adams' Rules of Order limit the office of president to no more than two consecutive one-year terms.
He added that if the petition does go to Ordinance and Rules, he would ask that councilors come forth with some sort of plan.
Personally, he said, he would prefer to keep the status quo.
Lampiasi said she did not think the petition was the right way to go about a discussion that was less about setting term limits but rather setting "tenure limits" for the nomination process.
"It is more of a tenure limit for our nomination process and I think Ordinance and Rules have more important things to focus on," she said. 
Morandi, Connell, and Ward  5 Councilor Patrick Kavey were the only votes in opposition.
The council filed a second petition asking it to limit the mayor's term. This would require a charter change and the city will review the charter in 2023.

Tags: parking,   plowing,   

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Berkshire Athenaeum celebrates Earth Day With Computer Recycling Collection

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In observance of Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, the Berkshire Athenaeum will host a computer recycling collection starting Tuesday, April 20, through Friday, April 30.
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