Contractors aid Pittsfield city employees in storm fight

A plows clears snow and slush from Elm Street in Pittsfield in 2014. The City Council on Tuesday approved a change that would allow alternate-side-of-the-street parking during declared snow emergencies. The change needs one more approval but is expected to be in place for the coming winter. 

PITTSFIELD — Residents of Pittsfield might have a new reason to know each day’s date, at least when a storm is coming.

In a change from long-standing policy, the city is moving to allow people to park their cars on city streets during snow emergencies, a practice long banned so plow trucks can get through. In a 10-1 vote Tuesday, the City Council agreed to allow people anywhere in the city to park their vehicles on one side of a street during declared snow emergencies.

The shift still needs to be OK’d by another panel, but efforts are underway to get the change fully authorized before major snowstorms hit this coming winter.

Here’s how it works: If it is an odd day, vehicles would have to be parked on the sides of streets with the odd-numbered addresses. On even days, parking would only be allowed on streets with even-numbered addresses. That means that in a multiday emergency, people would need to move their vehicles at least every 24 hours.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi voted against the change, saying he was worried that it could be hard to notify residents about the change.

“Communicating is a big thing. There’s a lot that has to be done to get the word out,” he said. “All of a sudden it’s going to be changed. To me, this is going to be harder to enforce.”

That was echoed by Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, who called the revision in parking rules a major change.

“There are going to be a lot of people who slip through the cracks,” he said. “There’s going to be mass confusion and problems with enforcement and plowing and the whole nine yards.”

But, Ricardo Morales, the city’s commissioner of public utilities, told councilors that his crews are prepared to start a campaign to explain what would be allowed, even before the first snow emergencies are declared. He said that a Pittsfield Police officer would help his crews enforce the new parking rules at first; in time, he said, that help no longer would be needed.

Morales noted that people who do not hear of the change likely wouldn’t pose a problem, because they still would think the snow emergency parking ban is in effect.

“In that sense, it will still be a better scenario than before,” Morales said.

The idea for alternate-side-of-the-street parking came initially from Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon. She told colleagues Tuesday that she heard first from residents in the Morningside neighborhood, a high-density area along Tyler Street to the northeast of downtown. Residents told Moon they have struggled to find places to park during emergencies.

“It’s incumbent on us to find a solution before penalizing them for not following the rules in place,” Moon said. “It’s been a long time.”

Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo also spoke in favor of the change. “We think this is in a good place. We’re addressing a problem.”

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com and 413-588-8341.

Investigations editor

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.