‘This is old," Bill
Mulholland said to me on Tuesday. "This is new."
Mulholland, Berkshire Community College’s vice president for community education and workforce development, was referring to the machines inside Taconic High School’s machine technology facility.
On one side of the floor were the traditional manufacturing machines that students train on. The other side featured a new computer laboratory designed to better prepare students for manufacturing positions in the 21st century workforce.
Old and new. It’s kind of what the city of Pittsfield is dealing with economically right now.
On the one hand, the city has brand new state-of-the-art machinery to bring our workers up to 21st century standards. On the other hand, with a few exceptions, there’s no one here in the Berkshires to employ them.
On one hand, downtown Pittsfield has been gussied up enough so that all these high- paid workers the city is always hoping to attract will have something to do if they come here. On the other hand, most of those deep-pocketed young hipsters have never really materialized.
See something at work here?
Pittsfield is becoming like the high school students who spend fortunes on an outfit, get all dressed up, then sit waiting by the phone hoping a suitor will call to take them to the prom. The groundwork is being laid for something to happen here. What’s lacking is a partner. The city is screaming out for one. Is
anybody listening? Is anyone willing to dance?
Look, this situation isn’t bad. Being prepared for the possibility of a date is a lot better than knowing no one is going to call. It’s like having a modern airport as opposed to an outdated one. Isn’t it better that the potential exists for modern business owners to fly in and out of Pittsfield, than not having that option available at all?
It’s like having a modern baseball stadium instead of a historic bandbox that may be quaint and charming but is past its prime Š and oops, didn’t the city have that debate 12 years ago? Luckily, in that case, we finally found an ownership group who can actually make baseball work in our old antique of a ballpark. That’s a lot better than relying on hucksters, charlatans and fairy tales.
One place where the old and new Pittsfield seem to be colliding is at the William Stanley Business Park, where a development group is
making its second pitch for a retail complex at the 52-acre site that was originally intended for industrial concerns. It was interesting to hear the comments from city residents at the public forum the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority hosted at City Hall on Tuesday night. There were impassioned pleas both for and against that project.
I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make the decision on whether to either accept or reject that proposal. Understandably, some people don’t want it, but the proposal could bring $300,000 in much needed tax revenue to a city that is crying out for some.
Go with a sure thing, or gamble on the unknown. Old versus new. Tough decisions ahead.
In last week’s column, we discussed the longevity of some longtime Berkshire businesses. There are a couple that we neglected to mention. The Mill on the Floss in New Ashford is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Champagne family began operating the well-known restaurant located in the second smallest town in Massachusetts in August 1973. To celebrate that milestone, the eatery will be open on Thanksgiving next month.
"The Mill" as the restaurant is often called, is named after an old grist mill that was located on the property during the 19th century. Floss is an old English word for small tributary or stream of water.
The Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital on West Housatonic Street hit the 50-year mark last year. Then there’s the Northern Berkshire Chapter of Berkshire Business and Professional Women, which is celebrating its golden anniversary this year. Quite the achievements.
It was disheartening to learn that former University of Connecticut basketball star Tate George was convicted of four counts of wire fraud in federal court in New Jersey last week.
George, who may have made the greatest basketball shot in Connecticut history when his incredible buzzer beater took down Clemson in the NCAA Tournament way back in 1990, was convicted of swindling investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Ponzi scheme, according to The Hartford Courant.
He’s facing a 6-to-9 year federal prison sentence. But George was considered such a flight risk that he was immediately taken to prison after the trial to await sentencing.
It’s hard to imagine someone who brought so much joy to so many on just one play on the shot heard round the state -- and if you lived in Connecticut 23 years ago you know what I’m talking about -- could fall so far so fast.
Sad. Very sad.