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Pittsfield Council Continues Trash Talk With Two Possible Solutions

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Trash talk has resumed in the city of Pittsfield with two possible paths in consideration.

On the table are two proposals: one for a recycling education program from Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell that was referred out to the Resource Recovery Committee nearly two years ago and a newly proposed Pay As You Throw trash system.

The council unanimously voted Tuesday to request that the Resource Recovery Committee sends back the referred petition regarding Chapter 8 of the City Code, Solid Waste Collection and Disposal and on Wednesday, the Committee of the Whole was given a presentation on a pay-as-you-throw trash system.

Morandi and Connell's proposal limits solid waste to 64 gallons whether in bags or containers and the PAYT system contracted with WasteZero provides residents with 104 15-gallon bags free each year at cost. Any additional PAYT bags would be purchased with the cost of $1.50 per 30-gallon bag and $0.80 per 15-gallon bag.

The councilors' petition referred to RRC in 2019 was a recycling education plan that was first drafted in 2018. The proposal went through the process of the Ordinance and Rules Committee and at the council's meeting on May 14, 2019, it appeared as though it was going to be approved when a last-minute motion was made to send it to the Resource Recovery Committee to review and then send back.

One reason Morandi and Connell's proposal was sent to the RRC, Councilor at Large Pete White explained, was because there was no mechanism in place for residents who want to put more than 64 gallons of trash at the curb.

The council never got the recycling plan back.  

"Here we are, Feb. 9, 2021," Morandi said. "And we have not had anything back from Resource Recovery, so before we act on another trash proposal I think we should get back what was worked on and put it out on the table again or discussion and then go from there."

It was requested that the RRC sends back the recycling plan ideally by the Feb. 23 City Council meeting.

Connell explained that Morandi is only asking that the council retrieves the forgotten plan and take action on it, whether they pass it or not.

"The fact of the matter is, we still have something that's active that is out there that has already been voted on once by a subcommittee," he said. "We have an obligation to get that information back and whether it happened a month ago or a year ago and it's still pending for whatever reason, that's active, that's already been through the process."

On Jan. 26, the council sent the PAYT trash proposal to the Committee of The whole after President Peter Marchetti and Councilors at Large Pete White and Earl Persip III requested that the City Council implement the system to solve the ongoing solid waste issue Pittsfield has grappled with for years.

After a detailed presentation on Wednesday from Steve Lisauskas, vice president of government affairs for WasteZero, Maffuccio called a charter objection, postponing voting on the matter until next Wednesday at a second Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m..

In other news, at Tuesday's City Council meeting Connell also made a motion to have the RRC report back to the City Council at its earliest convenience regarding a comprehensive recycling plan that was submitted "some time ago" and was never sent back to the council, which was unanimously approved.

Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi emphasized the importance of education on recycling, claiming it to be the only way to get younger residents excited about making a positive change and possibly passing it on to their parents.

"A driving force behind a lot of our conversation around our trash system is the fact that we need to increase our recycling rate," she said.

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Pittsfield Parks Commission Continues to Support Springside Pump Track

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite pushback, the Springside pump track is moving forward.

After being prompted to pause the Springside Park pump track and bike skills facility project until in-person meetings can resume, the Parks Commission unanimously voted to continue with the process and encouraged additional public input.

"I would encourage the community to have faith in us as a commission to do our due diligence and allow all the inputs that we can get and encourage anybody who is in favor or in opposition to this or reach out to us in any white means possible. We will do all we can to do it in a public venue. If something is sent to our commission, it will be included in our public meetings," Chair Anthony DeMartino said.

"But we are still far away from a final decision on this. And I think saying that we are going to pause it and stop it at this time as would not be the right step."

Residents Joseph Koprek, Elizabeth Kulas and Royal Hardigan called into the meeting to express their concern for the project and belief that additional public feedback is required outside of the Zoom platform.

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