|Pittsfield Councilor Wants to Reduce Accidents on East Housatonic|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
03:51AM / Thursday, September 14, 2017
|The intersection has been problematic for years and so far this year, there has been an average of one car accident a month there.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — So far this year there have been 23 accidents on East Housatonic Street and Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers wants the City Council to do something to reduce those numbers.
And then she found out the City Council already did. Twice.
A three-way stop sign was approved both times and never installed at the intersection of Pomeroy, where a disproportionate amount of the accidents occur. Nine of the 23 accidents this year occurred at that intersection.
"It has been before City Councils for short of two decades," Rivers said. "I still think, and I feel very strongly, this is a can we keep kicking down the road."
River said she found documents from 2004 when the City Council approved a three-way stop sign there but for some reason, a traffic order was never issued. In 2011, the Council again pushed and approved the three-way intersection and again it never happened.
"At some point, there needs to be a resolution ... I'm not going to settle for nothing," Rivers said.
That particular intersection is one councilors have repeatedly heard about. Councilor at Large Kathleen Amuso said she's been contacted about it several times and accidents are still happening.
The council will again put the three-way intersection proposal through the process in hopes that something, even if it is an alternative solution, can happen to reduce the accidents.
Also related to traffic, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi is looking for no parking signs to be added to Adam Street from the newly renovated Cumberland Farms to the corner of First Street.
"This has become a real nightmare down there," Morandi said.
Since the store renovated, taking up more space, the traffic congestion has become an issue. Morandi said at any given time there are multiple vehicles parked on the side of Adam Street, making it difficult for those exiting the store to see.
The mayor and Fire Inspector Randy Stein had asked for more clarification in the ordinance defining what constitutes a junk vehicle. The law as currently written reads, vehicles are not allowed to stand "in the open or allow to stand on any premises, public or private, for a period of more than 48 hours, any abandoned, wrecked, junked, dilapidated, nonoperating or unregistered motor vehicle" unless that person has a junk dealer license.
Part of the additional language defines non-operating as "or a motor vehicle without a valid state inspection sticker." At first, the Ordinance and Rules Committee approved it in a two-minute meeting with no discussion. But before it got to the full council, councilors began to hear concerns from residents about it.
The change in wording revealed a situation in which the Fire Department had always defined vehicles as "non-operating" if it didn't have a valid inspection sticker. But, questions centered on such instances when somebody is at college, overseas in the military, or simply trying to save money to repair it when the sticker expires.
The subcommittee added language giving residents 14 days to get stickers or move the vehicle those cases. But, Mayor Linda Tyer said that was too long and asked for that to be shortened.
"There is some flexibility with the inspectors to have more time if they make a compelling case that they need more time," Tyer said on Tuesday about how the current system of five days does allow for hardships.
The subcommittee handled it three times and ultimately put forth the petition with the 14 days. The full council settled on 10 days instead. That, some councilors felt, provided time for unique circumstances while also not pushing the timeline for removal of the vehicle too far out.
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said the department doesn't actively go out looking for these vehicles as it is a low priority in the inspector's office. And Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully said by the time a neighbor actually files a complaint about one, it has been sitting there for some time already. Czerwinski said the department receives multiple complaints about junk vehicles on a daily basis.
Councilor at Large Peter White argued that with 14 days, that at least gives a pay period for a homeowner to make arrangements if they are short on money at the time while Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo said with changes to the state's inspection process, there will be more and more people failing inspection and possibly needing more time to do repair work.
The council was split on the move from 14 to 10 but ultimately approved it at 10 by a 6-5 vote.