PITTSFIELD -- Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi has renewed his search for the city's next community development director following the recent rejection of a job offer by his first choice to fill the vacancy.

"We've re-advertised the position and applications are rolling in," he said. "We hope to start conducting interviews after Thanksgiving."

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.

Since early September, the Bianchi administration has been seeking a successor to Deanna L. Ruffer, who left the post Sept. 7 for a similar position in Chatham on Cape Cod.

Mayor Dan Bianchi
Mayor Dan Bianchi (Stephanie Zollshan)
She had served eight years in the post.

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.

Initially, 11 applicants sought to replace Ruffer. However, Bianchi's top prospect turned down the municipal position, in part, due to its yearly salary of $73,000, according to the mayor.

"Salary is always an issue," he said. "We had a very good candidate and offered him the job, but it didn't work out."

The city's Community Development 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 has said he will still formally notify the council of his choice.

Longtime Community Development staff member Bonnie Galant has been serving as the department's interim director and handling the job well, according to Bianchi.

"The nice thing is we have a great staff," he said. "Bonnie Galant and the others are a great group."

Bianchi has said 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.

Under Ruffer's direction, Pittsfield received more than $22 million in government funds toward 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.