Topless concept toppled

Thursday, December 13
PITTSFIELD — The City Council may have wrapped up a petition to designate a portion of Burbank Park at Onota Lake for top-free sunbathing, but Katherine Gundelfinger says she will continue to bear the burden of fighting for women's rights.

Council vote: 9-2

Gundelfinger, whose petition for the topless area and an ordinance that would restrict anyone from walking shirt-free on North Street was killed by a 9-2 Council vote on Tuesday, says she now plans to file the Burbank Park petition with the Parks Commission.

"It was mentioned (at the meeting) that this might not be the end of this because it is in the jurisdiction of the Parks Commission instead of the City Council," the Maplewood Avenue resident said yesterday. "And I hope it won't be. Women deserve a place outside to feel the sun."

Questions raised

According to Council President Gerald M. Lee, councilors voted down the petition in part because it raised two separate questions, making it an invalid petition. Only the Parks Commission can formally decide to accept or reject the proposal.

Still, Gundelfinger's request for an ordinance geared to restrict residents — especially men — from walking downtown shirtless, would be acceptable as an individual City Council petition.

"I think the North Street ordinance makes sense, but I don't know if that would violate anyone's constitutional rights," said Councilor Anthony Maffuccio, who voted down the initial petition.

"But, this isn't a community where topless bathing is accepted, and this isn't dead," he said. "She's looking for equal rights for women, and she can still file with the Parks Commission and see what they tell her."

To reach Amy Carr:, (413) 496-6233.


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