PEDA may hold public hearing on retail plan


PITTSFIELD -- With its board clearly uncertain on what direction to follow, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority is considering holding a public hearing to receive input on a proposed retail development at the William Stanley Business Park.

The possibility of a public hearing was discussed on Wednesday after the eight board members in attendance expressed their views on the future development of a 16-acre park parcel bordering Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue where a developer has twice proposed the construction of a retail complex.

It was unclear following the meeting if a public hearing will actually take place, and that if it does when it will occur. The PEDA board’s next meeting is Oct. 23. Three of the board’s 11 members did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, and those in attendance said they were interested in hearing their colleague’s viewpoints before making a decision.

In July, Waterstone Retail Development of Needham proposed the construction of a 200,000 square foot building occupied by a single retailer at the Stanley Business Park that would bring 200 mostly full-time jobs to Pittsfield and $300,000 in tax revenue to the city. Waterstone had also proposed the construction of a retail complex on the same spot in December 2011, but that project fell through.

For the project to go forward this time, PEDA’s Executive Director Cory Thurston said Waterstone would need to obtain a signed letter of intent from the quasi-public agency charged with the business park’s development before the developer can begin the permitting process with the city.

Thurston described that situation as a "Catch 22", adding that the developer also won’t spend any money on the parcel unless the "land is locked up."

With the board unsure of how it wants to proceed, board member Pamela Green suggested that a public hearing would be a good way for the panel to receive public input on the proposal before a decision is made.

During discussion, some board members said they "were on the fence" regarding the approval or rejection of Waterstone’s proposal.


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