Tyer seeks ordinance change on solicitor, project funding

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PITTSFIELD — Mayor Linda M. Tyer is seeking an ordinance change to allow her to appoint either a single attorney or a law firm to handle duties of a city solicitor.

The mayor also plans to submit to the City Council a request to borrow $2 million as part of a grant- and city-funded improvement project to upgrade the intersections around the William Stanley Business Park.

In a proposal she will submit to the council at its meeting Tuesday, Tyer requests new language that would allow greater flexibility in securing legal representation for the city. The proposed amendment states in part that "the mayor shall appoint a city solicitor or enter into a legal services contract with a law firm for the purpose of providing city solicitor services for the city."

The related language now in the city charter states in part, "the mayor shall appoint a city solicitor."

The ordinance change was drafted by Fernand Dupere, of Dupere Law Offices of Westfield, which represents the city in employee contract and other matters.

In replacing former City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan after taking office in January, Tyer obtained council approval to hire the firm Donovan & O'Connor, with Richard Dohoney as lead attorney, to represent the city through June 30, the end of fiscal 2016.

She said she will be considering whether to recommend a solicitor and/or a part-time assistant solicitor for the office or hire a law firm, or propose another format for legal representation.

Donovan & O'Connor was approved by the council on an interim basis, but not before a debate that focused on the relative merits of having a solicitor or a law firm representing the city, and whether such an arrangement conformed to wording in the city government charter approved in 2013.

The mayor also seeks authorization from the council to borrow $2,027,157 for the design, construction and installation of intersection and traffic signal improvements at the intersections of East Street and Woodlawn Avenue and Tyler Street and Woodlawn Avenue.

Tyer said in a letter to councilors that the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority and the city are applying for a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration. The funding would be used to cover intersection improvements and install traffic signals at the intersections.

The city would contribute half the total cost, according to the grant agreement.

Tyer said government and city investments for the work will support future growth at the William Stanley Business Park and the planned Berkshire Innovation Center there by improving access to the business park.

In addition, she said the improvements "will create a value-added connection to the work being undertaken by the Tyler Street Transformative Development Initiative."

The grant application includes a requirement that the city contribute a 50 percent match, or just over $1 million.

If the grant is not obtained, Tyer said she will ask the council to withdraw the authorization to borrow.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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