Prayer might be answered after temporary Pittsfield homeless shelter closes (copy)

ServiceNet is asking the City Council to waive building permit and inspection fees on its renovation of First United Methodist Church into a shelter. The nonprofit said construction costs have increased significantly over the past year.

PITTSFIELD — ServiceNet, the nonprofit shelter provider, is asking city officials to waive permit and inspection fees in order to move forward on a homeless shelter at the First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street.

An order from the mayor asking the City Council to accept that request is on the council’s meeting agenda for Tuesday night.

In a Sept. 21 letter to Mayor Linda Tyer and the City Council, ServiceNet Senior Vice President of Shelter and Housing Jay Sacchetti said that the renovation of the church at 55 Fenn St. has been impacted by a “significant increase in costs.”

ServiceNet plans to renovate the church building as part of a long-discussed project that would shelter 25 to 40 people near the supports and resources of downtown.

“Given these increases in costs and the public benefit of having a new, sanitary and safe shelter for the most vulnerable in our community, we are asking the city to waive all building permit fees, including electrical, plumbing and fire inspection fees for this project,” Sacchetti wrote.

ARPA hearing (copy) (copy)

Mayor Linda Tyer is proposing the creation of a new position — "quarterback" of the American Rescue Plan Act money heading to the city. 

Also, the council will consider a request from the mayor for the creation of a “special projects manager” position.

Tyer said in an interview that the proposed role would serve as the city’s American Rescue Plan “quarterback,” serving as the point person for the regulations and reporting requirements that come along with the more than $40 million in federal money headed to the city as coronavirus relief aid.

The proposed position, which would be funded with ARPA money until the end of the program in 2026, comes with a salary range of about $84,000 to $109,000.

The new position received the support of the Personnel Review Board during its Sept. 14 meeting.

Aerial view of the Morningside Fire Station (copy)

CT Management Group hopes to secure a 10-year tax increment exemption that could save the developer more than $50,000 as it works to convert the former Morningside firehouse into luxury apartments.

CT Management Group is looking to secure the final approval of a 10-year tax increment exemption from the City Council for the developer’s plan to convert the former Morningside firehouse into two-bedroom apartments.

CT Management’s proposal would convert the fire station into four apartments — two at $1,895 a month, and the other, two-bedroom units for $1,795 a month.

The developer received a unanimous thumbs-up on the tax increment exemption proposal at the council’s Community and Economic Development subcommittee meeting Sept. 21.

“This is part of a full financing package to make this project work,” CT Management Group Managing Partner Dave Carver told the subcommittee. “This is a critical component.”

Carver said the tax increment exemption, along with the $100,000 in Community Preservation Act money the project already has received, will allow the developer to continue work shoring up the building and, hopefully, allow renovation of the building to begin in January or February.

Heads-up

Roomful of Blues

Roomful of Blues headlines the Berkshire Blues & Brews Fest on Saturday at the Colonial Theatre. 

The Berkshire Blues & Brews Fest takes the stage at the Colonial Theatre on Saturday. The festival combines blues crooners and local craft beers.

The event runs from 4 to 8:30 p.m., with artists performing on the Colonial stage and its outdoor stage.

Attendees will need to provide proof of vaccination, and masks are mandatory, regardless of age. For more information about the event, visit berkshiretheatregroup.org.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413- 496-6149.