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Pittsfield Subcommittee Makes Changes to Sewer & Drains Amendment

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Ordinance and Rules Subcommittee recommended a sewer and drains amendment and also to maintain City Council checks and balances from the original ordinance. 
The subcommittee voted unanimously Monday to send the amended ordinance to the full council, leaving in some sections that would allow the City Council to request reports and approve fine structures.
"I think we can make some small changes to make everyone happy while giving you some more flexibility while still having the council involved in making sure things are kosher," committee member Earl Persip said. 
Public Services Commissioner Ricardo Morales said the proposed changes will align the city with the Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency corrective actions issued in 2011 for the Capacity Management Operation Maintenance (CMOM). Among other changes, acceptance also would reduce the State Revolving Fund loan interest rate to 0 percent.
Some of the changes would have eliminated the City Council's ability to set fines and see reporting regularly and committee member Anthony Maffuccio said he would not support an ordinance that eliminated these checks and balances.
"The City Council is there because we are basically the checks and balances of the city government," he said. "I am very uncomfortable with this and will not be voting for this. I don't want the City Council taken out of the equation."
City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta said the council ordinarily would have to sign off on any proposed changes. This amendment would allow the commissioner to make fine changes independently. He added that some fine structures in the city are approved by the council while others aren't. 
Morales said the fines are current and would not need to be changed.
Persip said he did not have an issue removing the City Council oversight but wanted some public process instituted. He said he wanted to be sure people knew about the fines if they were to change.
"I think there should be a date attached to it or a process attached to it," he said. "I don't think it needs to go to the City Council ... I don't think it is going to change often but I would like to see some process. It just seems like a cleaner way to do it."
Chairman Nicholas Caccamo said he too was OK removing the council's responsibility while member Peter White said he would prefer to keep the City Council in the loop.
Morales said he was not married to the draft changes and welcomed the council's feedback.
"In no way am I expecting this to be approved as is," he said. "This is good input that I am receiving and I understand it is a large document ... these are all good comments and concerns."
As for annual reporting, Morales, who is new to the position, said in the past these reports were really never given to the council and the current ordinance asks for antiquated reporting. He said without this demand he would have more flexibility.
Caccamo said he was OK forgoing the reporting because it was really never done.
"For what it's worth I am not sure retaining something that is not actually being reported in the collective memory of this group," he said. "That seems strange and I am not interpreting this as a power grab."
The council compromised and  agreed that they would make changes to this section to make it up to date and reports would not be annual but by request.
Morales said they would draft a new document returning the City Council controls to the ordinance for review but the full council in June. He said as long as they can approve the ordinance by the end of June they will meet the "moving" deadline for the 0 percentage interest rate. 

Tags: fines,   ordinance & rules ,   sewer,   

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Berkshire Theatre Group to Present 'Godspell' Outdoors

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Theatre Group will produce "Godspell" this summer – the first musical in the United States to be approved by Actors' Equity Association in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The show will be presented outdoors in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, and is scheduled to run Aug. 6 through Sept. 4. Tickets will be available for purchase Tuesday, July 7, at noon. 

"We could not bear the thought of a Berkshire summer without live theater to support our community, so we jumped through every hoop to create a safe way to make this happen," said BTG Board of Trustees Co-President Lee Perlman. "I hope our production gives hope to the tens of thousands of theater professionals who are on the sidelines this summer. Theater is unstoppable and will be back”

Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire said "Godspell" got the green light after BTG established a strict protocol to protect the health and safety of the audience, the performers and others involved in the show. 

"We have been working daily and in the true spirit of care and collaboration with Actors’ Equity Association for the past several weeks," she said. "Guided by Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association Mary McColl and her extraordinary team, I have learned much about how to lead a theater in the new world. Our industry, which has been devastated by this global pandemic, will be served by their seriousness, data driven wisdom, and profound understanding of the need for artists to rebuild. 

"I am so proud that Berkshire Theatre Group, in its 92nd season will be authorized and granted the responsibility to produce the musical 'Godspell.'”

After careful consideration with the local and state government, Mayor Linda Tyer of Pittsfield and Actors’ Equity Association, BTG relocated "Godspell" from its original site at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge to outside under a tent at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

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