Saturday August 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The state Legislature completed formal sessions for the year on July 31, but is still expected to consider a proposal to expand the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority’s board of directors by four members possibly within the next few weeks.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and state Rep. Tricia Farley Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, both said the Legislature will consider the proposal during what are known as "informal sessions," gatherings that state lawmakers hold to address local issues that take place two to three times per week through the rest of the calendar year.

Farley Bouvier expects the proposal, which the City Council forwarded to the Legislature for consideration in late February, to be addressed within the next few weeks.

"It could be handled in the regular course of business at any session," she said. "This is not a concern, and something we feel very confident is going to happen."

Bianchi, who is also a PEDA board member, wants to increase the board’s current size from seven to 11 members. Any expansion of the board beyond its current size requires approval at the state level.

"I was worried that our home rule petition to change the board members was going to fall through the cracks," Bianchi said at this past week’s PEDA board meeting. "But [the legislators] said Š it’s actually going to get more attention now that we’re out of session.

"We’re hopeful that in the next couple of weeks that they will tend to our request," he said.

Bianchi originally proposed expanding the board from seven to nine members. But he later revised his plan, believing that an 11-member board would be better suited to administer the William Stan ley Business Park of the Berkshire’s next phase of development. A quasi-public agency, PEDA is charged with developing the 52-acre parcel.

The state originally approv ed an expansion of the board from five to seven members in 1999, but PEDA has often struggled to fill all of those spots. A full complement of seven members wasn’t ach ieved until last year.

PEDA also needs to fill a spot on its current board. Citing increased work responsibilities associated with her job at General Dynamics, Beth Mitchell has left the board following a one-year term.

Bianchi has nominated Pittsfield native Larry E. Tallman to replace her. The council will consider Tallman’s nomination on Tuesday. Under PEDA’s bylaws, the mayor has the authority to appoint all board members.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @tonydobrow