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Mayor Peter Marchetti speaks to the business community about his first six months in office at a 1Berkshire luncheon last week.
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Director of Member Services Christine Hoyt gets a hug from Marchetti after she said he became a coach and a friend when she got elected to office in Adams.
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Marchetti took questions from attendees at the luncheon, held at Proprietor's Lodge.

Marchetti Details Six Months of 'Going Bold' at 1Berkshire Lunch

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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1Berkshire President and CEO Jonathan Butlers says the relationship between the business community and the new Pittsfield mayor is off to a good start. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Six months in, Mayor Peter Marchetti detailed his progress in plans to "go bold or go home" during a 1Berkshire luncheon last week.

"My motto over the past six months as some members of the [Pittsfield Economic Development Authority]and my business development director has heard, we're going to go bold, or we are going to go home," he said to a crowd of more than 120 at the Proprietor's Lodge on Wednesday.

"I have four years to make a difference. And I plan on making that difference in four years."

President & CEO Jonathan Butler said the relationship between the business community and elected leaders is critical to making progress and collective success.

"In the case of Mayor Marchetti, this relationship is already off to a strong start. The mayor comes into this position with a deep understanding of the importance of partnerships and the value of bringing different voices together to solve problems," he said.

"Additionally, the mayor's dual background of coming from a career in business, while also serving many years on the City Council and other public roles gives him a unique understanding of the importance of quality dialogue and partnership between the city and his business community."

Marchetti reported that the city's business development team is working on five sets of business prospects — including the first developer for Site 9 at the William Stanley Business Park. The 16 1/2-acre parcel has been a "blighted and sore spot in the community for many decades" but began its journey toward revitalization this year.

"I'm working with a Pittsfield Development Authority board to work on securing the future developer for this site and surrounding places and hoping that we'd be able to make that announcement very soon, as the negotiations are well underway," he said.

Over the last several years, $10 million was secured for the project under former Mayor Linda Tyer's administration. This includes monies from the American Rescue Plan Act and state funds.

The mayor also touted the City Council approval of $500,000 in Pittsfield Economic Development Funds for the city's Small Business Fund. Since 2012, the fund has assisted seven businesses, created 34 jobs, and preserved 84.

"This fund will continue to be one of many tools that we have in our toolbox to assist businesses to expand and relocate to Pittsfield," he said. "Over the last year, we should celebrate that we have 15 businesses open in our downtown and I look forward to continuing that momentum."

Earlier that day, Marchetti announced the appointment of Thomas Dawley, a 22-year veteran of the Pittsfield Police Department, as police chief. During the announcement, it was pointed out that elected officials have used safety as a campaign point yet, data over the past five years doesn't support claims that Pittsfield is unsafe.

"When I hear people say to me 'downtown is unsafe," my first question is, 'Is it unsafe or might you have had an uncomfortable moment?' Because I think there's a big difference between being unsafe and having an uncomfortable moment," Marchetti said.

"When I ask that question, most of the time, they pause and stare at me and don't know how to respond."

He said statistics flag North Street as the safest in the city but "perception is reality in a lot of people's minds" so the administration has agreed to put a bike patrol on as often as possible in the corridor "to do some visuals that will make some people feel safe."

"Whether they were safe to begin with or not, doesn't matter. I've asked the chief to ensure that not only are they riding their bikes but if you have someone who is sitting on a bench that looks like they're in some form of distress, let's ask them 'Is everything OK?'" he added.

"We can get them help if it's not Ok. Stop into the business owners. 'How are things going today?' Let them know. But on the flip side, we're also very clear that if you see something you need to call us."

He said the Police Department is working to implement a joint diversion team for a trial period.

"They will work together in a team of three, two patrol officers in plainclothes and one co-responder to respond to mental health calls," Marchetti explained.

"This unit will be the primary call-taker for mental health calls while on the street during this trial phase. It is my hope that this unit will be something we can expand upon in the future and look for new ways to expand mental health and substance use-related calls."

The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force, which was a promise of his campaign, has had two meetings so far.

"As mayor, one of the most disturbing things that I've learned was how many homeless children we have attending the Pittsfield Public School system," he said. "And so when we look at the mental health crisis, and substance use disorder, we can tie this into a full circle."

The fiscal 2025 budget season is staged to wrap up this week with a final vote on the $216 million proposal expected on June 11. Marchetti noted that just seven days into his term, the council sent him a petition asking for a budget that was close to level-funded.

"This was a request that we took seriously and my team and I worked through proposals for a level-funded budget, a level service-funded budget, and the wish list. Our final proposal fell between level funding and level service as we found ways to improve cost savings while still meeting the expectations of the community and the services they require," he explained.

"Part of that means that we have to do business differently so with our current proposal to change our trash and recycling collection, we will be able to save on day one $80,000 on the collection side and approximately half a million dollars on the disposal side in addition to the million dollars that will be saved for not having to purchase toters for this program,"

"This proposal will also encourage our residents to recycle more, creating more environmental stewardship in the community. The fiscal year 25 budget retains funding to the businesses and we continue to look for ways that we can support the economy. The more we invest, the more we can grow, leading to a better economy for all of us."

During the last budget session, the council voted to cut the district's budget by $200,000 following claims of "unprofessional" comments from School Committee members. Marchetti commented that he quickly learned there is "definitely a city side of things and a school side of things and they need to come together."

"I think we're working on that relationship. I have 1,000 questions for the School Department on a regular basis and I think some of it is how we're staffing our schools and which teachers we're putting in what schools," he said.

"And I'll put my foot in my mouth and say it: I think we need to be putting the experienced, tenured teachers in the schools that have the most problems instead of putting our waiver, emergency license teachers in some of those schools so there's my first kick at how do we do better."

Director of Member Services Christine Hoyt said she and Marchetti met through his work on the Pittsfield Parade Committee "over our shared vision for well-run and successful parades," as she organizes the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade.

She received guidance from him when taking on a new role as a selectwoman in Adams and they became municipal colleagues.

"It was the coach in him that decided to take me under his wing and help me along the way," she said.

When the pandemic hit, Marchetti was one of the first calls she made and they discussed public meetings and notices amidst the ever-changing landscape, closings, and openings. Hoyt was chair of the Adams Selectmen when he was council president.

"I have respected Pete for many years and I'm delighted that we have remained friends and colleagues," she said.

"In my role at 1Berkshire, I look forward to continuing to work with Pete on matters that are important to the work of our business community."

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Dalton Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee Discusses Next Steps

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The town's Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee held its first meeting on last Wednesday. 
The committee voted to have two co-chairs and elected Don Davis and Craig Wilbur for the positions. 
The committee will be examining all the options for a new police station or combined public safety facility. The goal is to have a recommendation for the Select Board by a year from December. 
"The Public Safety Facility Advisory Committee shall examine all issues regarding the proposal for a new police station, including the potential for a new building to house the fire station and the emergency management director," Town Manager Thomas Hutcheson said. 
He also emphasized not to feel limited in this scope. 
"Issues include, but may not be limited to, whether and where to lease, buy or take property or to use existing town property, including whether to build a new building," he said 
The ex-officio seats are Bob Bishop as the Select Board representative, Police Chief Deanna Strout, Hutcheson, and Building and Grounds Superintendent Jeff Burch. 
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