Look Ahead, Pittsfield: City takes on budget, metered parking as important questions linger

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The City Council begins wading into Mayor Linda Tyer's budget this week with the first budget hearings of the season.

The hearing on Tuesday will highlight Tyer's proposed five-year capital improvement plan, the budget for the upcoming year in its entirety and departmental budgets, including that of the city solicitor. Councilors will review spending plans for the Community Development Department and Pittsfield Fire Department in a second budget hearing on Thursday.

Each year, the budget process sparks heated debates and long meetings and this one will surely be no exception — especially as Tyer and Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo work to distinguish themselves in the mayoral race.

The city's Traffic Commission will also consider a petition from Ward 6 Councilor John Krol on Thursday that would remove metered parking from plans for the new Columbus Avenue lot. That request comes amid controversy between Tyer and Berkshire Nautilus owner Jim Ramondetta, who says metered parking in the lot would hurt his business.

Important questions

How will the mayor respond to a push from several councilors to find new ways of funding her housing loan initiative?

Councilors who opposed the zero percent loan program last month — because of the proposed funding source — filed a petition to form a working group that would explore alternative funding paths. Last week, the council voted to refer that request to the mayor.

Now it's up to Tyer to decide how to receive the political volley.

Will more faces join the race for four at-large seats on the City Council? Mazzeo's run for mayor makes room in the at-large field.

So far, challengers Jay Hamling, Craig Gaetani, Alex Blumin and incumbent councilors Peter Marchetti, Earl Persip and Pete White are positioning themselves for the role.

BB guns, business and police review

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Leaders at Reid Middle School are slated to provide an update about safety concerns during a School Council meeting 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in the school's library. After-school violence stemming from the school prompted communitywide concerns in recent weeks about youths carrying BB guns.

Panchos Mexican Restaurant will face a show-cause hearing on Monday during a meeting of the city's Licensing Board. Police say the restaurant has violated city code by permitting disturbances in the North Street establishment on three occasions since December.

The board will also hear updates about liquor licenses held by Crown Plaza, embattled Lach's Lounge and The Elbow Room, as well as about renovation projects at District Kitchen & Bar and The Proprietor's Lodge, which hasn't yet won its neighbors' good graces.

On Tuesday, the newly formed Police Advisory and Review Board will hear a presentation about a similar board in Cambridge and will begin discussing case review.

Mill Town Capital, a Pittsfield-based investment firm, will host a presentation from Chuck Marohn, founder of a national nonprofit working to shift the way communities go about development. Marohn's mission is to bolster communities through small, needs-based development projects.

The Pittsfield firm buys properties and invests in projects throughout the city, as with the Morningstar apartment project on Tyler Street. There will be a private event for government officials, business leaders and developers Thursday morning, and then a public session will follow at 4 p.m. at Barrington Stage.

Heads up

The Ralph J. Froio Senior Center will host a primer about marijuana on Thursday, and board members hope it helps seniors think about how they can make use of the newly legalized medicine. The session is free and open to the public and starts at 5:30 p.m. in the center's second-floor auditorium.

A $680,000 park project is coming to Dewey Avenue, and architects behind it are working with the group Westside Legends to mark the occasion in style. They'll host a block party at the blossoming park from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at 181 Dewey Ave. The event features music, dance performances, food and free activities.

And there's another fun option for Saturday, as the Pittsfield Suns' third annual Food Truck Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Wahconah Park.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, or by phone at 413-496-6296. Follow me on Twitter @amandadrane.


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