Pittsfield City Hall Elevator Receiving $100k Upgrade
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Meetings were supposed to begin in person this month with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions but the City Council will again be meeting by Zoom on Tuesday instead of in its chambers.
That's because the elevator at City Hall is being renovated for Americans with Disabilities Act and fire code upgrades — leaving the stairs as the only access to the second-floor meeting rooms. Some commissions and boards are meeting at other accessible locales or continuing on the Zoom platform.
The roughly $100,000 project is partially funded by a $70,000 ADA grant and the remainder will be funded by the city. It is set to be finished by June 30.
The 1832 building's elevator will receive upgrades including new controllers, smoke and fire detectors, wheelchair accessibility modifications on the doors, instructions in Braille, and lowered accessible buttons.
Though the elevator cannot be used at this time, City Hall is open to the public and staff will come to the first floor to accommodate visitors who can't climb stairs.
Michael Dean, the office manager for the Building and Grounds Maintenance Department, explained that the intent is to get all of the elevators in municipal buildings and the Pittsfield Public Schools renovated but money is an issue.
"The city filed for an ADA grant for the second time and we got approved this year, what's going on is we're doing a fire code up upgrade and an ADA upgrade so it's a benefit to everybody," he said.
"We wanted to try to do it last year but the other issue is that COVID was around, and manufacturing was down in a lot of places across the United States, including trying to get elevator parts."
The municipal building's elevator repair will cost about $100,000, which includes all of the upgrades and electrical work. Everything has to be completed by the end of the fiscal 2021, which ends on June 30.
"When you get a grant from the state or the federal government, you have to use it in the fiscal year, there are time limits," Dean said.
United Elevator Co. in Marshfield is doing the elevator work, Webster Electric LLC in Lanesborough has been contracted for the electrical work, and Lee Audio and Security in Lee is installing the fire alarms.
The elevator was out of commission from April 2018 to July 2018 after its hydraulic system gave out with people inside the elevator. The city then hired Bay State Elevator to make repairs but finding parts was said to be difficult.
The project cost between $30,000 and $35,000.
Director of Maintenance Brian Filiault told iBerkshires in 2018 that a number of new pieces were retrofitted to fit. Particularly, the company struggled with acquiring one part which delayed repairs.
Dean said that work being done was not the cause of Tuesday's City Council meeting becoming virtual after it was originally scheduled to be in person.
Reportedly, Gov. Baker's June 16 update extending the remote meeting provisions of his March 12, 2020, executive order -which suspended certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law- until April 1, 2022, was what charged the decision.
This new law allows public bodies to continue providing "adequate, alternative means" of public access to residents instead of holding meetings in a physical place.
iBerkshires has not yet received any information on whether the City Council plans to extend remote meetings or stick with their plan to return to City Council chambers following the repairs.