PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Parks Commission over the next months will test a formalized system for public comment.
The new format was put in place at Tuesday's commission meeting, and commission Chair Clifford Nilan said the body will lead its meetings with formal open-microphone periods for the next three or four months.
Residents will be allowed to speak on any item on the commission’s agenda at meetings. The comment period will be moderated by whoever is chairing the commission.
“We’ll give it a try," Nilan said, "and if it doesn’t appear to be adding anything to the meetings, we’ll stop it.”
The format change was prompted by a recent City Council petition from Councilor Karen Kalinowsky. The at large councilor requested the commission allow an open microphone at the beginning of each Parks Commission meeting.
At the Tuesday meeting, commissioners told Kalinowsky that residents have always had the ability to discuss parks business with the body.
“I’m not sure the spark behind this particular petition coming to us," Commissioner Anthony DeMartino said, "but it kind of gives us a little bit of a perception that we don’t let the public speak. I want to definitely say that is absolutely not the truth.”
DeMartino said the public has been given “ample opportunity to speak” on items both on the agenda and items of interest while he has been on the commission. He said residents also have communicated with the commission through email and been give the opportunity to present their correspondence in public at meetings as well.
“We want to make it clear that people have been and will continue to have opportunities to speak before the commission,” DeMartino said.
Kalinowsky said the residents that reached out to her felt that they hadn’t been given the opportunity to speak but thanked the commission for formalizing the open microphone.