Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Mayoral campaign kickoff, parking garage demo, and a school budget uptick

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Mayor Linda Tyer will announce her re-election campaign this week, sending the city fully into the throes of campaign season.

Whether or not she'll face competition remains to be seen.

The City Council races could become more clear this week, with updates likely coming from Councilors John Krol and Earl Persip. Ward 7 Councilor Tony Simonelli announced that he won't seek another term, and Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Chris Connell have not yet made clear their intentions, with Connell saying only that he plans to run for public office in November.

Work is scheduled to begin on the Columbus Avenue Parking Garage this week, meaning all cars must be cleared from the area. The project, scheduled for June completion and previously estimated to cost around $2 million, involves demolishing the existing garage and repaving the area into a surface lot.

In other city spending, the School Committee is holding a public hearing during its Wednesday meeting to hear from residents about a budget proposal from Superintendent Jason McCandless. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers.

Last week, McCandless presented his plan to make $3.5 million in school additions to mirror a new influx of state funds that are projected to come into the city over the next fiscal year.

Bag ban, new petitions and alleged violations

And I know I've been saying this for weeks, but the City Council could actually [maybe] take a final vote on a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags on Tuesday. The measure was tabled last month after councilors disagreed over whether to charge 5 cents each for paper and compostable alternatives at the register. The council didn't take it up during its meeting earlier this month, citing the fact that multiple councilors were absent.

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Also on the Tuesday agenda are some fresh petitions filed by Councilors Kevin Morandi and Krol.

Morandi filed petitions calling for a series of updates: one from Public Services Commissioner David Turocy about upcoming road work, another from the city's business development manager about ongoing economic development efforts and a third regarding progress toward a backup plan for waste management.

Krol has a petition on the agenda calling for a conversation about the future of Pittsfield High School, which needs a significant amount of work, and whether or not the city plans to consolidate high schools in the future.

On Monday, the city's Licensing Board will hold a violation hearing for Tito's Mexican Grill, which allegedly violated state laws by serving alcohol after hours and offering free drinks.

Heads up

The city marks National Vietnam War Veterans Day on Saturday with a ceremony at 10 a.m. in Park Square. Mayor Linda Tyer is the keynote speaker for the event, which recognizes the 27 Berkshire members of the military killed in action in Vietnam.

And it might technically be spring, but it's also Polar Plunge weekend on Onota Lake this weekend. The event is hosted by the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, kicking off Saturday at 11 a.m. for those who dare to do the "super plunge," which involves taking the plunge 24 times over 24 hours.

For everyone else, the event starts 11 a.m. Sunday at Burbank Park.

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


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