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Pittsfield Mobile Home Board Oks Rent Increase for Allendale Pines

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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James Baldyga speaks to the Mobile Home Rent Control Board. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Mobile Home Rent Control Board has approved a three-phase rent increase of $110 for capital improvements at Allendale Pines after some deliberation. 
 
The approval on Tuesday came after the owners provided more information on the financing of the improvements. 
 
At the last meeting on Oct. 5, representatives of Eagle Allendale LLC proposed a 53 percent rent increase over three years to the board, resulting in a total increase of $120 a month. Over 20 years, this rent increase is expected to pay for capital improvements that are estimated to cost around $688,250.
 
This three-year staged increase would occur as follows: A $50 increase in the first year; $50 in the second year; and a $20 in the third year. This would have raised the lot rent from $220 in 2020 to $340 in 2023.
 
There is no interest attached to that amount, as Eagle Allendale is just looking to cover the capital costs of the improvements.
 
James Baldyga of Eagle Allendale and the Allendale Pines tenant association worked together to agree on a rate of increase that tenants could reasonably afford. A signature of each of the association board members is attached in the project packet for the Mobile Home Rent Control Board.
 
From the day of breaking ground to the asphalt paving, Brent White of White Engineering in Pittsfield said the project will take four to six months without any additional problems being found.
 
The budget is set to repair all infrastructures problems at once, including repaving the roads, reconstructing the water system, and repairing the sewer lines.
 
After a number of opposing call-ins from Allendale Pines residents and the board's concerns over the financial wellness of park residents post rent increase, the hearing was continued from the October meeting until Tuesday's meeting.
 
Attorney Jeffrey Scrimo, Baldyga and White presented on Tuesday a revised application with updated information and documentations for the cost of the repairs that supports the purposed rent increase for Allendale Pines.
 
"Since our last meeting, Jim Baldyga's gone thoroughly through the numbers in the application," Scrimo said.
 
He explained they have gone through and provided documentation for the numbers in the application and have also analyzed the numbers through the lens of regulations.
 
This revised application mimics the first in asking that the board pass a motion to increase park rent a total of $120 split up over three years with increments of $50 in the first and second year and then $20 in the third as initially requested.

But in this revision, only $68 of the $120 would be a permanent increase and the other $52 would expire at the end of 20 years.

The $68 increase would match the projected rate of investment. It would only support the operating expenses of the park and does not include any amortization, they said.
 
Baldyga thanked board member Justine Dodds for helping him resubmit the application. "We clarified a lot of the issues we had with the previous submittal," he said.
 
He recaptured costs of improvements and provided the board with an updated budget of the proposed capital improvements that came to $830,000 dollars. This includes an increase on actual costs of work and soft costs that Baldyga hadn't included in the original application.
 
A group of three concerned residents called in to the meeting.
 
Christopher Hawkins said his property sits on the sewer line and that sewage from the park goes to his property, dumps out and then is forced to the city. He said the sewer hatch is not secured to the ground and is open, which he says animals and small children could fall into.
 
"I just don't see that $120 is worth it because they've done nothing with the last capital improvements they wanted to do," he concluded.
 
Resident Vicky Murdock spoke about potholes in the road that damage cars and ice that she has fallen on.
 
"It's very scary to walk down to the mailbox and the dumpster in the winter," she said. "So I want to know what improvements you are talking about."
 
Resident Michael Murdock just said, "This is ridiculous, enough is enough."
 
Eagle Allendale was questioned about the improvements funded by the last rent increase of $30 in 2016. Baldyga said it was an increase to compensate a fair return based on the operating expenses. 
 
After this increase, about $70,000 was budgeted to pave the roads but upon further investigation they saw that the water and sewer were in need of repair and concluded that the capital improvement should include everything.
 
The first increase would not start until the work begins, and the second wouldn't start until residents are satisfied that the entire project is complete. By this time, they will have a new water system, a new sewer system, and newly paved roads, Baldyga said.
 
In response to the residents who called in concerned about ice conditions in the winter, Eagle Allendale additionally agreed to make sure the roads are salted.
 
White explained that an immediate contract for these capital improvements means that Eagle Allendale's contractors will be able to lock in prices for materials in the future to avoid inflation.
 
"Our plan was that any increase in pricing we would cover in the contingency," Baldyga said.
 
The board voted on each increase in a separately. The first $50 increase effective March 1 in anticipation of April construction passed unanimously. Under this vote, residents would be notified of this increase a month before on Feb. 1.

Board member Justine Dodds then made a motion for a $35 starting increase after completion of the work. This motion passed 3-2. A signed completion form from White and the city's engineer would be required for the increase.
 
A motion for a final $35 rent increase one year after the completion of the improvements failed 2-3.

"I'm really tired of the project, I want to get it done one way or another," Baldyga said. "I would rather decide on it tonight and if it helps to knock $10 off on the last increase, I'm willing to do that."

In response, Dodds made another motion for a $25 rent increase one year after verified completion and it was passed 3-2.


Tags: mobile home park,   rent control,   

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Pittsfield Gets $3M MassWorks Grant for Tyler Street Improvements

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Revamping Tyler to make it more attractive and safer for all modes of transportation follows the multi-year makeover of North and South Streets. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield has received a $3 million MassWorks Infrastructure Grant for improvements on Tyler Street. 

With these funds, the city will be fixing the problematic intersection of Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue and doing streetscape improvements on roads, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

The estimated budget for these improvements is $6 million. The city has locally lined up half of the budget through a capital project approval and the grant will fund the other half of the expenses.

City Planner CJ Hoss said the costs will come out to 50/50 between the city and the grant funding, with the city paying more if necessary.

The MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program provides funds to municipalities and other eligible public entities for infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing production, spur private development, and create jobs.

Hoss explained that two capital projects — the intersection improvements and the streetscape improvements — were merged into one project that the grant will fund. He said it made sense to bring them both on the same track so they can be done synchronously in a single construction project.

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