Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Salty overages, metered parking debate and a pickleball showdown

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The City Council will consider $1.4 million in deficit spending for snow and ice on Tuesday, about which several councilors have already voiced displeasure.

They say the budgetary overages, stemming largely from spending on road salt, seem out of place following a mild winter. But Public Services Commissioner David Turocy has told them the winter season was full of early morning nuisance storms that required salt for the morning commute.

The conversation about overspending comes amid a changeover in the Highway Division — the city will begin reviewing internal candidates this week for the position of highway superintendent. We learned in early May that the former roads chief, Daniel Ostrander, had been placed on leave.

The City Council is also scheduled to take a final vote on the proposed Community Preservation Act budget, which includes $35,000 for a controversial pickleball project. Councilors on the Finance Committee approved the pickleball funding last week under the stipulation that either a compromise be reached between the city and Springside Park advocates or the city will pursue another location.

If the compromise passes muster, the city could later move to restore — by special order — capital funds for the project that councilors voted to cut.

On Thursday, the Traffic Commission is scheduled to review a petition from Ward 6 Councilor John Krol that would remove metered parking from the newly finished lot along Summer Street and Columbus Avenue. Krol's measure, which sparked a larger conversation about the success of metered parking in Pittsfield, grew from cries for help from Berkshire Nautilus owner Jim Ramondetta, who argued metered parking at the new lot deals an unfair blow to his business.

The Traffic Commission meets 7 p.m. Thursday in council chambers.

Plans for an overhaul of Springside Pond are up for review by the Conservation Commission, which meets 6 p.m. Thursday in City Hall room 203. The project as proposed will be intensive and costly — roughly $500,000, give or take — and the city aims to line up the proper permitting before approaching potential funding partners.

Election update

City races continue to percolate as the July 19 nomination deadline approaches.

Last week, attorney Kenneth Warren pulled nomination papers for both Ward 1 and at-large seats on the City Council. He'll eventually have to choose between them as candidates can only appear on the ballot once.

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In the at-large field, he joins incumbent councilors Peter Marchetti, Earl Persip and Pete White, as well as Alex Blumin, Yuki Cohen, Craig Gaetani, Jay Hamling and Auron Stark. They're competing for four available seats. In Ward 1, Warren would stand against incumbent Councilor Helen Moon if he chooses to pursue the seat.

The Ward 7 race is now a four-way field among John Daniels Jr., Jeffrey Ferrin, Anthony Maffuccio and J. David Pope.

The School Committee field also has a newcomer, Alison McGee, who joins the race for six available seats. Other nominees include incumbents Katherine Yon, William Cameron, Joshua Cutler, Daniel Elias and Dennis Powell, as well as Mark Brazeau, Thomas Perrea and Ocean Sutton for six available seats.

Comings, goings and celebrations

Berkshire Community College marks its 50th anniversary of providing nursing education in the Berkshires this weekend with a two-day celebration on the West Street campus. The anniversary party begins Friday, when alumni of the nursing program will gather to listen to stories from nursing alumni dating back to 1969, as well as hear an "exciting, new announcement" for the college's nursing programs.

Outgoing leader of the Christian Center, Ellen Merritt, will be honored with a farewell dinner on Tuesday. The organization announced her impending retirement earlier this spring.

The Berkshire Immigrant Center will host an open house at its Allen Street facility from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Those who attend will be introduced to the organization's new Executive Director Michelle Lopez.

And Working Cities Pittsfield hosts its picnic 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Durant Park. The event serves as an annual check-in for residents and community advocates working to improve Pittsfield.

Heads-up

Downtown ambassadors with Downtown Pittsfield Inc. will hit the streets this week, helping visitors navigate their way to downtown parking and other facilities.

And roadwork continues this week, with paving slated for Grove Street, Glenwood Avenue, Pine Street, Pleasure Avenue, Myrtle Street, Stoddard Avenue, Hull Avenue, Pontoosuc Avenue, Brighton Avenue, Somerset Avenue and Windsor Avenue.

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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