Sustainable solution for St. Mary's site
To the editor:
Currently there are many moving parts in determining the fate of the St. Mary's property on Tyler St. in Pittsfield. One potential solution could be a multi-use community facility to be used not only by the citizens of the Tyler St. District but the city as a whole.
The development of a multi-use facility requires true collaboration. The property has the potential to house multiple community organizations in one location. This could be an enormous benefit to the city, as many of our citizens who seek programs and services provided by our community organizations reside in the Tyler St./Morningside District.
Current organizations such as Pittsfield Community Connection, Berkshire Regional Employment Board, Berkshire Health Systems' Canyon Ranch Institute, and Operation Better Start, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Tyler St. Business Group, and many more are offering community services that have the potential to hold a once a week or biweekly programming schedule on site. This would provide city residents with a somewhat central location for their community programming. It may also hold unforeseen opportunities for programs such as 21st century community learning centers to reduce significant busing expenditures facing the program.
The question of maintaining the space or providing for energy expenses would be answered with a co-op/condo style maintenance fee to be paid by each organization. If enough community organizations were willing to come together the fees for use would be small, affordable, and justifiable under any grant regulations.
In addition to maintenance, the question of facility occupancy readiness/any code upgrades could be addressed through a combination of Mass Development grants/services, Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation services, or any potential funding provided through Berkshire Health Systems or other major area employers/donors. Any donated funds could be used to establish trusts where only the interest derived from the principal funds would be used, leaving the principal itself untouched. This would help ensure a sustainable revenue stream for the property.
Who will facilitate such a progressive collaboration? This would be a perfect jump-off point for the soon to be announced Mass Development TDI fellow. This is a unique opportunity for a persistent, passionate Fellow to set forth a collaborative framework of city-wide stakeholder engagement. Such a framework, when successful, will forge a path for sustainable, smart development for Pittsfield in which future generations can be proud of.
Robert B. Ireland, Pittsfield The writer is a returned United States Peace Corps volunteer, TEFL/Community Developmen — Ukraine 2010-2012.