Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Fresh downtown digs, more pickleball and city races simmer

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There's fresh blacktop where the Columbus Avenue parking garage once stood, and this week it's open for the taking.

The long-awaited city project removed the slouching structure and replaced it with a surface lot, squeezing in some extra parking spaces along the way. The new lot opens Monday, and parking attendants will mill around throughout the day to help people navigate it.

But the occasion won't be a joyous one for all. Berkshire Nautilus owner Jim Ramondetta had called on the city to reconsider its plan for meters at the parking area, at which his gym members had long enjoyed free three-hour parking.

The Traffic Commission will soon consider a petition from Ward 6 Councilor John Krol that requests the city keep free three-hour parking in the lot.

This week we'll see the reemergence of another controversial topic: pickleball in Pittsfield. Residents with opposing views on a proposed pickleball court at Springside Park will likely make their way to City Hall once again as city councilors consider $619,701 in Community Preservation Act spending for 12 projects, including the pickleball project.

City councilors on the Finance Committee will consider the spending plan 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers. Earlier this month the City Council voted to cut funds for the pickleball facility out of the capital budget, with several saying too many residents stood against the proposal.

And Pittsfield is about a month out, now, on the nomination deadline for city races ahead of the November election. Last week brought some movement, and now the races are starting to fall into place.

Political newcomer and Methuselah owner Yuki Cohen joined the council fray last week, as did longtime former councilor Jonathan Lothrop.

Cohen joins incumbent councilors Peter Marchetti, Earl Persip and Pete White, as well as Craig Gaetani, Alex Blumin, Jay Hamling, and Auron Stark in the field for four at-large seats.

Lothrop was one of three to pull papers last week after incumbent Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers pulled out of her reelection bid. He joins Patrick Kavey and Eugene Maselli.

Solar projects, parks and pot

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A controversial solar project proposed for a residential neighborhood along Barker Road is up for review by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday. The developer, Cypress Creek Renewables, set aside the property earlier this year before city officials approved a ban on solar fields in residential neighborhoods.

The zoning board, which meets 7 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers, will likely table the matter to allow time for the city's Conservation Commission and Community Development Board to review the project.

The board will also consider plans for a marijuana store at 1035 South St., currently occupied by Enso Asian Bistro. The shop would bring the city-approved cannabis retail count to 10.

The city's Parks Commission will consider regulation changes in parks and conservation areas this week following incidents with kids and BB guns in Springside Park. City officials aim to make language adjustments that empower the Pittsfield Police Department to do more enforcement work in the city's open spaces.

Speaking of parks, the construction project at Clapp Park kicks off in earnest on Monday.

Heads up

Organizers will host a Fourth of July parade fundraiser Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. at Tavern at the A. Tickets cost $20 for everyone age 13 and older and the event features an all-day lineup of bands.

Earlier this year, organizers said the parade was in a tough financial spot and might not last without a groundswell of community support.

Schools are officially out for the summer as of this week, and the second Third Thursday of the season kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Lake Onota is slated for herbicide treatment on Wednesday, meaning the lake will be closed for all uses for the full day. Activities might resume Thursday, save for irrigation purposes, for which residents should wait five days following the treatment.

And roadwork continues this week, with likely traffic and parking impacts along Memorial Drive, Mohawk Street, Glenwood Avenue, Grove Street, Pine Street, Pleasure Avenue, Hull Avenue, Myrtle Street, Stoddard Avenue and Pontoosuc Avenue.

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


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