Look Ahead: Grants for community improvements on the table

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PITTSFIELD -- The City Council will weigh a request to spend $281,025 in Community Preservation Act money on eight projects, from making upgrades at Burbank Park to building two residences in the city's West Side.

The Community Preservation Committee recommended the projects for funding in last month, including three to spruce-up of Burbank Park with new sand and invasive species mitigation, as well as buying new equipment at Berkshire Community Rowing that will be accessible to the public.

There are also requests for $15,000 to upgrade aging equipment at Allen Heights Playground, $25,300 toward restoring Colonial Theatre's facade, $10,000 to the Historical Commission to review endangered properties in the city and $40,000 for the Christian Center to complete a historical property survey and develop strategic improvement plans. The committee also asked that $110,000 go to Habitat for Humanity to help build two residential units.

Keep an eye out at Tuesday's remote meeting for a petition submitted by councilors Helen Moon and Patrick Kavey to make all of the city's communications and notices as well as its website available in Spanish. Councilors will hear an update on a master plan for improvements to the Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

Councilors will also review a brief report from the Police Advisory and Review Board summarizing its activities over the past year. In a letter introducing the report that was included in City Council meeting package, board Chairwoman Ellen Maxon spoke positively of the department and its chief. But she also said the board's power is "rather limited." She clarified that she was "Not saying this is good or

bad."

Board powers have been a main point of criticism since its inception last year, with some saying that it lacks the legal authority it needs to provide adequate civilian oversight. Now, the chairwoman is questioning what impact it has at all. Maxon writes, "The limited power has caused us to wonder and discuss what it is that we can actually do that makes a difference."

In more happening this week, there will be a community cleanup at Springside Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, or check out Berkshire Theatre Group's Sunset Cinema Outside outside at Taconic High School, where "Jurassic Park," is screening Thursday, "The Iron Giant" on Friday and Disney Pixar's "Coco" on Thursday.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.

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