Letter: Spiteful City Hall missing major opportunity
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
My name is Craig C. Gaetani, and older residents will certainly remember what I did for the city of Pittsfield in the mid-1980s. Younger people probably don’t know a thing about me, but read on.
Over the past few years, I have been advancing some ideas I and my colleague Dr. Lawrence K. Wang have about making minor changes to the city’s two drinking water filtration plants that could save maybe $100,000 to $200,000 per year in operating costs. More importantly, the city is under decree from state and federal environmental agencies to add additional treatment stages at the Pittsfield sewage treatment plant for removal of certain chemicals before the water is released back to the environment following treatment. I have been told by Mayor Daniel Bianchi that, according to figures given him by Public Works Commissioner Bruce Collingwood, these upgrades could cost between $70 and $80 million.
Dr. Wang and I are scientific and engineering consultants and educators in physics, chemistry, biology and environmental engineering. We both worked for many years for world-renowned scientist Dr. Milos Kroftka, our colleague and mentor who was recognized as the world’s leader in flotation technology.
Dr. Kroftka, with significant input from Dr. Wang and myself, created the Kroftka-patented sandfloats which are at the heart of the two Kroftka-designed plants sold to the city in 1983. We designed everything in the project, including all of the electrical and plumbing work. This saved taxpayers $100 million in upfront costs for the two plants and $15 million in water rates that were significantly lowered over the past 30 years because of the lower operating costs of the plants we built.
In recent months, I have contacted the mayor, Mr. Collingwood, City Council President Melissa Mazzeo and all the members of the council through written submissions of information and appearances in person about the water filtration plant changes and
the sewage treatment plant decrees. The figure of $70 to $80 million for what will be nothing more than the design and construction of a third stage of treatment is preposterous. The present sewage treatment plant is predominantly a primary and secondary stage facility, and it should cost no more than $5 to $8 million to build a third stage. Dr. Wang and I are willing to show them how, at a savings to ratepayers of between $40 and $50 million.
We have tried to communicate with the mayor, Mr. Collingwood and the council to inform them that they must look into any and all technologies that meet the regulatory standards at a dollar amount that taxpayers can afford. Are ratepayers ready to watch their sewer and water rates rise by four to eight times what they are now or do they think city officials should listen to what Dr. Wang and I have to say?
This administration has stopped me from going to the water plants to get further information. This was conveyed to me in a letter from Mr. Collingwood and by the mayor himself in a meeting in his office where I found him to be unprofessional and a bully. Wagging his finger at me, he said I should put on my "best scientific hat, as in the future I would be dealing with Mr. Collingwood." I asked him to set up a meeting with Collingwood. He said he would, but it never occurred.
This incident took place
in mid-October of 2013. Recently, I read an article about Doreen Wade, who said she was treated badly by the mayor, and it sounded to me exactly the way I was treated. I believe I was discriminated against by Bianchi based on age, as he told me what I did for the city was in the past, some 30 years ago, as though that meant what I had to say today was unimportant.
To help our clients, we are able to explain complex scientific concepts in ways they will understand. My goal is to save big bucks for the taxpayers and water rate payers of Pittsfield. I have tried to communicate this to the mayor but could never get a word in edgewise.
To Mayor Bianchi and the City Council, I promise that I will expose to the public that you do not have the city’s residents and their pocketbooks at heart. To Council President Melissa Mazzeo, I took you to the larger of the two treatment plants I built and gave you a full tour of the facility, educating you as to why floatation facilities are much less costly to purchase and operate than any other technology presently available for building drinking water and sewage treatment facilities. All you seemed to
get out of this tour was that I hadn’t given the city 24 hours notice that I was going to appear there. I have not seen you since.
To Mr. Collingwood, I firmly believe that the mayor and City Council are in the dark about what I am trying to do for the city because of you. In 2011, former Mayor Charles Smith and I came to visit you at your office. We tried to help you and you pretty much showed us the door. Thanks to Mayor Smith’s steadfast faith in me, he allowed me to move Kroftka Engineering forward and the result was two world class drinking water filtration plants for the city of Pittsfield at a cost residents could afford.
To my fellow city residents, taxpayers and ratepayers, you must get involved with city politics and vote in local elections. If you don’t vote, individuals like those I am dealing with now will be back again. If my efforts in these matters fail, so be it, I will know that I have tried to help my fellow residents. If I do fail, I may set my sites elsewhere, perhaps on running for mayor. If I do, Mr. Bianchi had better get on his best hat, the one he told me to wear in dealing with Collingwood. I can guarantee that if I run against the mayor he will face an opponent who is not like anyone he has ever dealt with.
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