Wednesday September 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority may have four new members, but now its board is lacking a chairman.

Longtime PEDA board member Gary S. Grunin surprised his colleagues at Wednesday's monthly board meeting by announcing that he was resigning as chairman, effective immediately, so he could focus on family and travel. The board oversees the development of the William Stanley Business Park, between Kellogg and East streets, once home to GE factories.

A former City Councilor who ran for mayor in 2001, Grunin said he would be willing to stay on as a member of the board through the remainder of the calendar year unless Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi finds a suitable replacement. PEDA has only two monthly meetings remaining in 2012.

Vice chairman Mick Callahan will steer the board until a permanent replacement for Grunin is found. Callahan is the only board member who has served longer than Grunin.

"I'm sure his historical knowledge of PEDA will continue to serve this city very well," Grunin said.

Grunin said he decided to resign so he could spend more time with his family and travel to his grandchildren's athletic events.

"They are very involved in sports," Grunin said. "I spent a lot of time this summer traveling between Worcester and Westfield, watching my 13 year-old grandson play on the all star Babe Ruth team."

He also wants to spend more time traveling with his wife, Jean, and his son, Scott, who plays competitive racquetball on the national level.

Grunin said the state Legislature's recent approval of the city's petition to expand PEDA's board from seven to 11 members made it easier for him to leave his position.

"I'm very confident that the future of the William Stanley Business Park is in good hands now," he said.

Grunin said he is gratified that several of his goals as chairman were realized, including General Electric's transfer of ownership of the entire 52-acre William Stanley Business Park to PEDA, the ribbon cutting for the park's first tenant, and the securement of a $6.5 million state earmark for the eventual construction of a life sciences incubator building at the business park.

A local businessman, Grunin was originally appointed to the PEDA board by Mayor Gerald S. Doyle in December 2001 to fill the seat vacated by former General Dynamics chief David Schmutte. His first term as chairman ended in 2004 when he was replaced by William M. Hines Sr. Grunin became chairman for a second time in 2009 when Hines replaced Thomas E. Hickey Jr. as PEDA's executive director. He thanked both Hickey and Hines for their efforts in PEDA's early years.

Bianchi, who attended Pittsfield High School with Grunin, thanked him for his service.

"Thank you very much for your years on the board and your friendship," the mayor said.

"Be proud of what you've accomplished," added board member George Whaling.

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