Wednesday September 19, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said on Tuesday that he expects to choose a successor to Community Development Director Deanna L. Ruffer by the middle of next month.

Following eight years at City Hall, Ruffer left the post two weeks ago for a similar position in Chatham on Cape Cod. The city's Director of Community Development has been a major factor in the revitalization of downtown Pittsfield and other economic projects throughout the city in recent years.

Bianchi said there are 11 applicants seeking to replace Ruffer. The yearly salary for the position is $73,000.

"I'm really confident of making a good choice that will benefit the department and benefit the community," he said. "I expect to make a decision within the next two to three weeks."

The mayor has received applications for Ruffer's successor from as far away as Arkansas and from as near as Lanesborough, the town where the only Berkshire applicant for the position resides.

An ad hoc committee consisting of staff from the city's Community Development and Personnel departments will review the resumes before forwarding the names of the three finalists to Bianchi. The mayor will interview the finalists.

The city's Community Develop ment Director is a three-year position subject to appointment by the mayor that does not require approval by the City Council, according to the city code. However, Bianchi said he will still formally notify the council of his choice.


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Long time Community Development staff member Bonnie Galant has been serving as the department's interim director since Ruffer's resignation went into effect on Sept. 7.

Bianchi says the city's next community development director needs to follow in Ruffer's footsteps by helping the city secure millions of dollars in state and federal grants.

"It's important to understand how to get [state and] federal grants as the money is key to economic development," he said.

Under Ruffer's direction, Pittsfield received more than $22 million in government funds towards job creation, building affordable housing and improving city parks. That funding was in addition to money from the federal Community Development Block Grant fund that Pittsfield receives every year.

The funds Ruffer secured for Pittsfield helped finance several city projects including the establishment of the Beacon Cinema, the restoration of the Colonial Theatre, the redevelopment of the former Rice Silk Mill on Spring Street into an apartment complex, and the initial refurbishment of the First Street Common.

Ruffer was also responsible for recruiting LTI Smart Glass from Lenox to Pittsfield, and helping the Ice River Springs water bottling company of Canada expand into the city.

Ruffer's successor will inherit a staff of 14 people that include the city's parks and open space manager, recreation coordinator and conservation agent.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.