Contentions of the week: police advisory board and large-scale solar at Pontoosuc Lake club

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From an illegal police shooting range to swirling legal issues surrounding estranged officers, police issues in Pittsfield have been getting people talking. Many argue that all that talking deserves a new forum, but the form that should take is also the subject of recent debate.

How much authority should a group of citizens have with the department? What's the best way to bridge gaps between officers and residents? Could a police advisory board reduce tax dollars spent on lawsuits? These are some questions at the heart of a conversation slated for a City Council Ordinances and Rules Committee meeting, which happens Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers.

The committee could also decided to take up two issues that have been tabled and running in the background over the past several months — an overhaul of the city's solid waste program and a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

Another topic roiling residents is the issue of solar fields moving into their backyards. One proposed solar project before city boards this week could be the largest array the city has ever seen.

Boston-based Nexamp proposes installing an 18,000-panel solar field across 25 acres of the Pontoosuc Lake Country Club property, at Hancock Road and Ridge Avenue. Neighbors happily sandwiched between the city's two lakes aren't sold on the idea of the foreign field.

Residents will have two meetings this week to make their case. Nexamp, under the subsidiary Pittsfield Solar, seeks site plan approval from the Community Development Board at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Senior Center, third floor. The company will also require special permit approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals, at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chambers.

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Heads up

Speaking of the city's beloved bodies of water, the annual drawdown of the lakes is scheduled to begin today. Refills at each lake will begin in the spring.

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is Wednesday. Unsure if your registration is current? Call the Office of the Registrar of Voters at 413-499-9460. The office will be open until 8 p.m. Wednesday to accommodate registrations.

As for election day, I think it's fair to say the most interesting race facing the county is the one for Berkshire district attorney. Andrea Harrington won a tight race in the Democratic primary in September, beating out incumbent Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello. But Caccaviello was intent on picking up votes he missed out on in the primary and is running a write-in campaign to keep his seat.

Pittsfield Public Schools will cap a year of building this week with a dedication ceremony in the newly finished Taconic High School auditorium.

And I don't know about you, but I'm seeing this week's forecast and toying with the idea of turning up the dial for the first time this season. For now, though, I'm layering up and trying to make it to November without caving.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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