PITTSFIELD — A new year, and new council rules to go with it?
The City Council will debate a pair of petitions that would push their meetings up an hour earlier, and limit council meetings to no more than four hours each — a response to the marathon meetings that have taken place over the many months councilors have been meeting via Zoom.
Councilors will also take a first pass on an order from the Tyer administration requesting to extend a five-year tax-increment financing agreement to Bousquet Mountain ski area, which was purchased last year by Mill Town Capital.
Mill Town also acquired the former Lakeside Christian Camp at Richmond Pond and Berkshire West Athletic Club, and Mayor Linda Tyer told councilors in a memo the venture capital firm plans to make capital investments upward of $16.6 million in the constellation of properties.
To facilitate that development, Tyer proposed the city invest $960,600 from the General Electric Economic Development Fund to connect Bousquet to the city’s water and sewer system. Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer, in a communication to councilors, said the infrastructure expansion “is also expected to increase development interests and activities in the South-Central area of the city.”
Both Mill Town items are expected to be referred to a council subcommittee for more debate.
Nearly three years after councilors took an exploratory look at “pay-as-you-throw” trash pickup programs, Council President Peter Marchetti and at-large Councilors Pete White and Earl Persip III have put forth a proposal to implement one such system in Pittsfield. Keep an eye out in The Eagle this week for details about the proposal, which is expected to be referred to the council’s Committee of a Whole for what we can expect to be an extensive discussion.
In other city business, the Licensing Board will reconvene a “show cause” hearing for Methuselah Bar and Lounge, after owner and City Councilor Yuki Cohen received a third citation for allegedly violating COVID-19 safety regulations. That led a city health official earlier this month to press the Licensing Board to suspend the business’ liquor license.
As the novel coronavirus continues roiling the region, county children are forced to continue learning remotely. Remote learning has generated a raft of concerns, particularly when it comes to students with special needs in substantially separate learning environments, and upper-grade level vocational students, who may have hands-on learning requirements to complete.
While negotiations with the district’s educators’ unions continue, the Pittsfield School Committee will discuss at its Wednesday remote meeting the idea of returning those student populations back to classrooms before the rest of the student population, similar to how students in those cohorts had been prioritized to return to in-person schooling this past fall — before the entire district reverted to all-remote learning.
The School Committee will also touch base on its ongoing search for its next permanent superintendent.