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The CPA Committee voted to recommend $110,000 toward the YMCA facade project.

Pittsfield Preservation Act Committee Recommends Four More Projects

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Preservation Act Committee voted to send another four projects to the City Council for consideration, including the YMCA renovation.
 
The committee zeroed out $190,000 for possible projects Monday, voting to recommend a slate of four projects to the City Council to be fully or partially funded.
 
"Well there we have it," Chairman John Dickson said.
 
This is the second round of projects the CPA Committee will recommend to the council after an initial pause in the application process in March because of the pandemic. 
 
 
City Planner CJ Hoss noted that the committee had $424,000 this round but with some projects already approved, a disbursement for emergency housing and administrative costs, he recommended allocating not more than $190,000. That would leave a $50,000 buffer that would carryover, he said.
 
The largest project the committee voted to fund was the Pittsfield Family YMCA facade project on North Street.
 
"I think this is a premium project in Pittsfield and whatever we can do to support it, I think is great," Dickson said. "And to have CPA aligned with this, it's right on North Street, it's a major improvement for the whole city, so I'm happy to go with it."
 
Although the YMCA asked for $171,000, the committee members voted to instead zero out what they had left after considering the other three projects. The YMCA amount ended up at $110,000.
 
"I don't think that ask is unreasonable and I expect they are going to come back next year for the balance," committee member Libby Herland said. 
 
The facade project is part of a $5 million renovation of century-old structure and will reopen the brick front to look more like it's windowed 1909 original appearance. 
 
The CPA Committee voted to fully fund the Arrowhead barn restoration request of $30,000.
 
Herland said she felt it was important to fully fund this project because it shows that the city supports it. She said much of the project is reliant on outside donors.
 
Arrowhead was the home of 19th-century author Herman Melville and is now a museum and headquarters to the Berkshire County Historical Society. 
 
The CPA held back on a few other smaller projects and reduced their funding.
 
The vote was to provide the Berkshire Athenaeum with partial funding to digitize and properly archive some historical Parks Department scrapbooks. 
 
Members voted for $25,000 instead of the requested $59,834. This lower amount may not allow for the installation of servers to store the digitized documents but will help store and digitize the documents, some of which are falling apart.
 
The CPA Committee also reduced the amount requested for the West Park Cemetery from $30,000 to $25,000. This amount will allow for the development of a cemetery restoration plan as well as address some of the deteriorating stones. 
 
"The stones have to be fixed and I think we are at a point where we can postpone this for another year," Herland said.
 
This allocation would not include proposed tree and fence work.  
 
A $33,000 allocation for the Deming Park Field will also be included in this City Council agenda item. The CPA voted to recommend this project at a past meeting but Hoss said there was some hesitancy among some councilors to accept it.
 
He said members of the public also spoke up against the project.
 
Hoss said he did not include it in the first series of projects to ease its passage because it contained some time-sensitive projects.
 
"We were afraid that it would have slowed down the whole process," Hoss said. "We didn't want it to put those other projects into jeopardy."
 
The only project the committee shot down was the Berkshire Dream Center's requested allocation of $100,000. The committee felt the application was not complete.
 
"It might need a little more prep work for the funding they requested," Dickson said. "I do not feel they ... had enough. It was the one outlier in terms of being ready to go for the planned use of funding."
 
Herland agreed and wanted to see more information in the application including more bids and a budget. 
 
"It is a lot of money and this is the taxpayer's money," she said. "I just did not feel this was ready at this time."
 
Committee member Alex Groff said she hopes their feedback encourages the Dream Center to reapply  next year. She also noted the project did not seem as urgent as some of the others. 
 
The City Council will likely see the recommendations in August. They will then most likely send them off to subcommittee.
 
Hoss said he thought they would likely be voted on in the fall.
 
"The City Council did approve a slate of projects last Tuesday," he said. "And I already have the two draft contracts signed, so we can get those first two projects that are time-sensitive up and running very near future."

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Pittsfield City Council Rejects Petition to Remove Connell

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council denied a petition aimed to remove Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell by claiming he no longer lived in Pittsfield.
 
Late into the six-hour meeting Tuesday, councilors came to the agreement that although Connell is spending much of his time quarantining out of state, his primary residence is still in Pittsfield.  
 
"I just want to thank you all for your kind support and thought and I will continue to do the best that I can for this council and this city," Connell said at the meeting's close around 1 in the morning. 
 
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