PITTSFIELD — The City Council has approved money for a public water and sewer extension project to Bousquet Mountain, which the new ownership said was key to its multimillion-dollar development plans.
By a vote of 10-1, councilors Tuesday signed off on Mayor Linda Tyer’s request to draw $960,600 from the General Electric Economic Development Fund for the project.
Mill Town Capital purchased the ski area in the spring and is developing the property into a year-round, family-focused business anchored by a new 15,000-square-foot lodge that it plans to construct. Tim Burke, chief executive and managing director of Mill Town, said the ski area has faulty septic and well water, and described the water and sewer project as all but essential.
“You don’t get the ball rolling at all up there without public infrastructure,” he told councilors.
Mill Town has announced plans to invest a total of $11 million to develop the ski area, including $5 million for construction of the new lodge. The project received support from all five members of the council’s Community Development Board last week.
Officials said the water and sewer expansion on Dan Fox Drive also will facilitate future business development in the area.
More immediately, it will create seven full-time jobs and 130 seasonal part-time jobs by allowing construction of the new lodge to move forward, said Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer. Not included in job-growth figures are positions she said will be created to staff the year-round restaurant and retail operation Mill Town is planning.
“The jobs are significantly greater than they stated in their proposal,” Ruffer said.
Councilor Chris Connell voted against the allocation and said the city seems to be bending the guidelines for what projects are eligible for economic development money. He said the money was meant for projects that create living-wage jobs, not part-time positions.
“There are guidelines that, for whatever reason, seem to be altered from time to time,” he said.
Ruffer said the infrastructure project is, indeed, eligible for the disbursement based on factors including job growth and the “overwhelming public benefit” to the community. Mill Town also received a five-year tax incentive for the project.
“It’s an economic development opportunity that only comes along once in a lifetime for a city like Pittsfield,” she said.
Mill Town also acquired the nearby Berkshire West and the former Lakeside Christian Camp properties, and is rebranding them under the Bousquet name, forming a cluster for outdoor recreation.