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Pittsfield Council Airs Frustrations With Overgrown Ways
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:49AM / Thursday, September 14, 2023
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Weeds growing up through the pavers in the median. The council is calling for action.

A company was contracted to maintain the medians and borders but has apparently not been able to do so.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City councilors are appalled at the condition of some public ways and have called for action.

On Tuesday, the council sent multiple petitions to the Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales concerning walkways, medians and planter boxes that appear to be lacking maintenance.

These include a request to have the center median and all adjacent flower boxes from the intersection of Reed Street and South Street to the intersection of Linden Street and North Street cleared of all debris; a request for information on the schedule of emptying garbage cans in the downtown business district and garbage along sidewalks, planters, roadways, and the trimming of weeds; and a request to have all crosswalks painted and solar flashing signs with a crossing signal installed.

There has reportedly been an issue with the contractor who is responsible for city grooming.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III was especially frustrated with the situation.

"This continues to be a problem in the city. I don't know why we can't take care of these simple activities that should take place every year," he said. "The excuse of a contractor not performing, not doing it, is not acceptable. Our downtown looks atrocious."

Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey hopes that after the areas are cleared, the city will consider replanting species that are easier to maintain.

"With the point about our contractors not being able to get out there and do the work, I understand that we've had a tough time with contractors but we've never had a crew go out and at least clean up the road and cut down all the weeds and the brush and everything else that's just not looking great," he said.

Ward 6 Councilor Dina Lampiasi gave a shout-out to the volunteer organization Pittsfield Beautiful for its work to make the downtown welcoming and aesthetically pleasing.

"So much of the beauty that we do see is because of them," she said. "We can't do it all on a volunteer basis."

Persip said these items are easy to get done and should not require answers through petitions.  He petitioned last month for answers about crosswalk painting and is not happy that crosswalks near schools are still not done.

"It's frustrating. It's getting old. We are concentrating on the wrong things," he said. "We are fixing our siding on the house when the porch is falling down. We need to address these simple things."

He said councilors are emailing "over and over again" and hopes that this is a wake-up call.

Kavey pointed out there is also a Highway Department adding that "for them to go out for an afternoon and just weed whack the center of the road is not asking that much of their department."

Lampiasi said she hates sending such emails and coming down on workers but when councilors are told something isn't happening, it should happen.

"And we are now two months and it still hasn't happened. That is a problem," she said. "I don't know where the breakdown is but we're talking about sanitation issues."

Some councilors were upset that Morales was no longer at the meeting when the petitions were discussed.  While Councilor at Large Peter White said hears his colleagues' frustrations, he said the council has to have something solid in place that communicates when city staff should be at meetings.

The petition concerning crosswalk painting on West Street was referred to Morales and the Traffic Commission. It was originally directed only toward the crosswalk in front of Dorothy Amos Park where, earlier this year, resident Shaloon Milord was struck and killed.

"Low-hanging fruit," Persip said. "Paint the crosswalk. We're leaving low-hanging fruit out there. It's easy enough to take the crosswalk."

Lampiasi said most of the councilors would likely be willing to take a roller and paint the crosswalks themselves.

Before the petition was amended, she cautioned against prioritizing one over the rest, as there are safety issues with crosswalks all over the city and especially near schools.

"We have other high priorities and they all need to be hit at the same time," she said.

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