Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Tug of war over water and sewer

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The City Council will take a final look at proposed increases to water and sewer rates in the city, which could raise the next quarterly bill for the average homeowner by about $43. Officials say the rate hikes are necessary to pay for a $74 million wastewater plant upgrade on tap for Holmes Road.

The council took a split first vote on the rate hikes last week, with councilors who voted against the costly wastewater project — required by the Environmental Protection Agency — sticking to their guns. Other councilors in opposition called for more information about a study that formed the basis for the proposed rate increases.

Meantime, Craig Gaetani will give a presentation to the City Council's Public Works and Utilities Committee at 7 p.m. Monday, in Council Chambers, about what he says could be a less expensive alternative to the $74 million project. Members of Mayor Linda Tyer's administration have said the city has spent too much time and money on design and engineering to explore experimental alternatives, but some councilors argued it could be worth hearing him out.

Councilors will also be asked to approve a $400,000 grant from the state to use toward a new city park, the West Side Riverway on Dewey Avenue, during their meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.

In business

The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority will review two new lease prospects at the William Stanley Business Park. The agency will also air updates on the status of the Berkshire Innovation Center and longstanding conversations with Waterstone, a developer that had hoped to place a Walmart Supercenter in the park before that plan fizzled last year.

Phoenix Theatres is scheduled to close on Beacon Cinema on Monday. If that goes through, consumers can expect quick changes at the North Street fixture, like cheaper ticket prices, longer hours, building renovations and an auto-playing baby grand piano in the lobby.

Heka Health had long planned a medical marijuana dispensary at 531 Dalton Ave., but those plans appeared to fizzle last year. This week there will be a community outreach meeting, 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Berkshire Athenaeum, about a proposed recreational marijuana facility at the same site. Curtis Gezotis, a director at Heka Health, is pursuing the new plan under Pittsfield Investment Group.

Humanity department

This week the city's Human Rights Commission will host a public presentation on the late Bernard Baran, a gay man unfairly convicted of molesting children at the Pittsfield day care he worked at during the 1980s. He served 21 years in prison before a state appeals court ruled in 2006 that the original trial was unfair. The presentation runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Berkshire Athenaeum.

The newly formed Homeless Prevention Committee will begin taking inventory of existing services for homeless people in the community, starting with a presentation from Barton's Crossing manager Cheryl Bassett. That happens 10 a.m. Tuesday in City Hall room 203.

Twelve finalists will compete for $1,000 on Friday as part of Berkshire County's Got Talent! The show, hosted by The Berkshire Eagle, runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at Barrington Stage Company.

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

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