Approve CPA, end loss of state funding for city
To the editor:
Once Lisa Whitney, a Pittsfield native, and I decided to save the Historical Thomas Colt House and convert it into a vibrant Whitney Center for the Arts, a nonprofit, we made the city of Pittsfield our home.
I have been hearing from a lot of Pittsfield residents about things that are wrong. No city is perfect, but we have our golden opportunity to correct at least one of the wrongs simply by voting "Yes" on Question 5 on Nov. 8, to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA).
I can just imagine a furiously passionate reaction from any lifelong Pittsfield resident if I tell them that not only have Pittsfield citizens left approximately $167,000 on the table, just in 2015, but also, that money went to rebuild, restore and conserve historic buildings and parks and/or create other open spaces in communities like Great Barrington and Williamstown, among the 159 communities around the state, that were wise enough to adopt the CPA. Also, in 2016, we will be losing about $114,000 of the state's matching contribution.
Another benefit of CPA adoption is that it could relieve the city's budget for funding certain municipal projects, allowing them to devote these funds to other necessities, such as adding more police, by way of example only.
Equally important, there is sufficient data that each CPA community has benefited by increased business activity, tourism and community morale.
To put things in context, here is what The Berkshire Eagle opined in a July editorial: "It is unfortunate that Pittsfield rejected the CPA in 2006. Pembroke approved it the same year and has amassed nearly $2.5 million in the decade since."
So the question is: how do you feel about leaving approximately $100,000 to $150,000 of the state's contribution on the table next year, and the year after that, and the year after that and pay for our neighboring communities' CPA projects? It would be irresponsible of us to let this lost opportunity go on. We can right this wrong, now!
So please support the CPA initiative this election by voting "Yes" on Question 5. For more information, please log on to www.preservepittsfield.org.
Ghazi Kazmi, Pittsfield The writer is executive director of the Whitney Center for the Arts and is a member of the Pittsfield Tourism Committee.