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A rendering by SK Design of the car wash to be built at 1035 South St., where the Dakota Steakhouse use to be.
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Councilors had concerns over the exit from the property because of the traffic on South Street.

Pittsfield Council OKs Car Wash at Former Dakota Steakhouse

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Matthew Maserio speaks with James Scalise of SK Design during the meeting. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After much debate and some alterations, the City Council approved a special permit for a car wash at the former Dakota Steakhouse.

Lipton, Inc. plans to build a "tunnel" type 4,200 square foot facility that can wash up to 150 cars per hour. The site, located at 1035 South St., housed the well-known steakhouse until about a decade ago and was most recently occupied by Enso Bistro.

After more than 90 minutes of discussion last week, the council attached two conditions to its support: that the northern exit be a right turn only subject to approval from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and that the car wash attempts to connect with the abutting Sunoco Gas station subject.

"We're looking at Route 7 and we have multiple businesses coming through and we do want safety but I think we're all saying here: 'We want new businesses in Pittsfield and we want people to come and give us as much information as they can,'" Councilor at Large Kathy Amuso said.

"Safety is No. 1 and I think you've made it as safe as you can."

Traffic concerns drove pushback from the owners of Guido's Fresh Marketplace, located across the well-developed Route 7. A traffic impact study anticipates that the car wash will generate four new vehicle trips during the weekday morning peak hour, about 34 new vehicle trips during the weekday evening peak hour, and about 18 new vehicle trips during the Saturday midday peak hour.

The Community Development Board, which approved the permit with conditions last month, asked that the applicants consider the coming Starbucks across the street in the plan. Former Guido's owner Matthew Masiero also had concerns about the Starbucks proposal approved by the council a couple of years ago.

"Our concern is for the welfare of our staff and customers that come in and out of Guido's. It's as simple as that," he said.

"Now we've got the Starbucks about to start construction at the end of April, beginning of May. Everybody was talking about Starbucks in this last presentation. No one talked about Guido's."

Masiero reported that the grocery store sees between 1,200 to 1,700 cars per day and 2,200 to 2,500 during the holidays. He said there were two accidents in the area last week.

"We're for the project," he added. "It will look beautiful over there I'm sure."

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III said it's hard to say yes to the plan when revised documents were given to the body on the day of the meeting. He seconded Masiero's concerns for Guido's.


"I appreciate the add-on of Starbucks but I didn't hear anything about Guido's," Persip said. "That's what we should have been talking about because Guido's gets a ridiculous amount of traffic."

One of the second-generation Guido's owners Luke Masiero supported the amendment for a right turn-only curb cut.

"I think that suggestion would solve a lot of the traffic problems. A right turn only out of the northern curb cut would prevent people from coming across that suicide lane which is where one of the two accidents last week actually happened," he said.

"Someone turning let out of the Dunkin Donuts collided in the middle lane so having just one less opportunity to cross that I think would make it a lot safer."

Persip had wanted to continue the conversation but after the amendments were applied and supported by the Masieros, the special permit passed unanimously.

"Everybody is trying to tackle the state's responsibility in dealing with the road. There's going to be development, No. 1, on that road," Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren said.

"There's going to be development on that property. There's going to be development of any property that had a business on there."

He pointed out that the property drove traffic as a restaurant and said he wouldn't let other businesses dictate whether there is development on the site or not.

Ward 7 Councilor Rhonda Serre recognized that Guido's often hires a police officer to direct traffic during busy times and suggested that the businesses work together on the issue rather than one business taking the brunt, recognizing that it is "complicated thought" and would require a great deal of collaboration.

The site plan stipulates that vehicles will enter on the South end of the car wash and exit on the north.  Three queuing lanes of eight vehicles will be constructed to avoid backup onto South Street.  It is proposed to be open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. 7 days a week.

The build will also require a new underground electric service and will feature new drainage features to control stormwater runoff.


Tags: new business,   car wash,   traffic study,   

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Pittsfield Woman Dies After Being Rescued From Structure Fire

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The woman who was rescued when her home caught fire on Monday has died. 
 
The Berkshire District Attorney's Office confirmed on Tuesday that Susan Steenstrup, 67, died after she was pulled from the blaze at 1 Marlboro Drive. The cause of death has not been confirmed.
 
Steenstrup was found on the second-floor by firefighters who responded to the blaze at about 6:45 p.m. She was taken by County Ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center. 
 
The two-story, 1930s home is coned off and shows signs of the emergency response such as a broken front window where crews entered to rescue Steenstrup. The fire was reported to have spread from the kitchen and a cause has not yet been determined.
 
Steenstrup was the only occupant at the time. The home had been in her family since at least the 1960s. 
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