Lawsuit against city of Pittsfield over relocation of Adult Learning Center dropped

Sunday October 28, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A lawsuit filed by two local property owners against the city of Pittsfield over the School Department’s decision to move the Adult Learning Center to a different location this fall has been dismissed at the request of both parties, according to documents on file in Berkshire Superior Court.

Philip and James Massery of Pittsfield had filed the complaint in July alleging the city had violated portions of the state’s Uniform Procurement Act when it awarded the contract for the Adult Learning Center to G.D.L. Associates.

The Massery brothers owned the space the Adult Learning Center had occupied on Lyman Street for the last 12 years. G.D.L. Associates, run by downtown entrepreneur Giroa "Jerry" Witkowski, owns the space on North Street where the Adult Learning Center is currently located.

After the city decided to move the Adult Learning Center to a new location, it awarded the contract to G.D.L. in March. But the Masserys filed the lawsuit three days after their former lease with the city expired on June 30. The Masserys and G.D.L. were the only groups to submit bids.

The move was temporarily put on hold this summer when Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini issued a ruling that prevented the city from entering into any contract with G.D.L. because it had violated sections of the state law regarding access for people with physical disabilities and parking requirements in the original request for proposals.

The city then rebid the project in August. G.D.L. submitted a second bid, but the Masserys declined because they had already found another client for the Lyman Street space.

Attorney Michael D. Hashim of Pittsfield, who represented the Masserys, said his clients were willing to drop the case after the court found the city had violated portions of the state law in the original bid. A pre-trial hearing had been scheduled for May 20, 2013.

"We got what we wanted," Hashim said, noting that his clients were not seeking monetary damages from the city. "There was no point in pursuing the case to final judgment because it became moot."

City Solicitor Kathleen E. Degnan could not be reached for comment.

Despite the pending litigation, the School Department had already moved the Adult Learning Center to North Street before Agostini issued his ruling. On Sept. 27, the School Committee approved a one-year lease with two, one-year options with G.D.L. Associates for use of the North Street space, according to business administrator Kristin Behnke. The 5,800-square-foot space had been formerly occupied by MountainOne Finan cial Partners.

"I’m very happy with our new central location," Behnke said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:,
or (413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @TonyDobrow


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