PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, DEC. 23, 2011) — Happy 90th birthday to MOM PLANET!

From Biotech to Big Box. From Big Box to Big Disappointment. What in the world is going on with the PEDA site?

First, we turn to the Boring Broadsheet. The editorial, unsigned as always, gushes about how the annunciation of retail on 16 acres of the William Stanley Business Park will stop global warming, ensure lasting peace among all nations, and keep the planets aligned for years to come. In its “news” coverage yesterday, the BB broke out the Second Coming type size to announce “Builder’s big plans: Shopping Plaza may bring jobs.” We love the use of “may.” It means, alternately, that it “may not” bring jobs. The story ignores what kind of jobs the “may jobs” will be: minimum wage compensation with lousy benefits.

The jobs “could … invigorate the Morningside community. Then again, it “could not.” Permitting is “expected” in 2012. Construction is “projected” to commence in 2013. Developers for this project from the Phantom Zone refused to identify the anchor store (Shhh … Don’t tell anybody, but it is “expected to be” a Lowe’s Big Box Home Improvement Center). With Berkshire Crossings, BJ’s, the Allendale Shopping Center, the Berkshire Mall, and other replicas already having saturated Pittsfield and environs, it’s hard to see how the “expected” retail center on the PEDA site will be the “economic engine” that will placed a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage.

Yet even at that, the announcement of Needham-based Waterstone Development (now negotiating a lease from the PEDA authority) raises a much more underlying problem: Lack of a coherent economic development strategy and continued secrecy in doing We The People’s business. First, there’sPEDA executive director Gary Grunin making the unilateral announcement that from now and going forward, only 1/4 of the PEDA site will be targeted for manufacturing.

Since when did PEDA and the city do a complete reversal and redefine the PEDA mission, basically, dumbing it down to monolithic Big Box sterility and homogenization? Did PEDA have closed sessions where they decided to ignore the master plan? Where are the minutes, if so? Mayor Jimmy Ruberto said talks with Waterstone have been going on for a year. When, where, why, and how did the city decide to give up the ghost on manufacturing, the same as it did with Dan Fox Drive, and turn PEDA into another cesspool — this time, not of industrial toxins (which are still buried on the site) but of toxic local politics.

The courting of retail in a city that cannot sustain A-Level shopping dooms the city to more blight, more jobs that fail to provide a living, and more wasted opportunity.

Since 1998, this is all we have to show for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring back meaningful jobs?

* A branch office of Mountain One bank. There weren’t enough banks. What are the political connections that made this possible?

* Plans for Action Ambulance to located a regional HQ on the PEDA property. Action is in Pittsfield as the second ambulance company largely because of Boston politics (didn’t indicted and convicted House speaker Sal DiMasi, now in federal prison, speak in favor of Action on the House floor?) and the work behind-the-scenes of former mayor Gerry Doyle. How much has Doyle personally profited from Action’s arrival? How much will be added to that stash if it builds on the PEDA site. The city did not need a second ambulance. County Ambulance and the Pittsfield Fire Department would have been the best option. Instead, the city ignored the firefighters and added an unnecessary layer — apparently for the sole reason of secret, cesspool politics.

* A “proposed” retail complex that “may” add an “expected” number of dead-end service-sector jobs.

What terms will Waterstone demand? You can bet and likely win on terms practically ruinous to city taxpayers and favorable to the developers, whose profits will leave Berkshire County entirely and head East, to fill pockets out Boston way.

The there’s this ominous quote from Neil Shalom, Waterstone partner: “We decided to come here because someone we work with made us aware of the potential opportunity here.” THE PLANET begs your pardon, Mr. Shalom: You decided to spend millions here not because you performed a detailed study, market analysis, and other rigorous due diligence? You can to Pittsfield, to the ineffectual political monstrosity known as PEDA “because someone you work with made [you] aware of the potential opportunity”?

No who is that someone. Why didn’t you name this person. Is this shadowy figure a former disgraced mayor of Pittsfield?

THE PLANET now presents other comments on this PEDA non-development. This is a round-up of comments given at this site and Facebook:


PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary: 

Ripped off again? Or how to put a happy face on failure.

As I was reading the headlines that yet another tenant was looking to occupy property in the William Stanley Business Park, I was genuinely hopeful that something meaningful would be coming forward: Something like an office building or some sort of light manufacturing or something that would make use of the rail transportation. Nope were going to get yet another strip mall or Berkshire Crossings complete with a big box retailer that most certainly will be required to add 15% to the corporate bottom line. Worse most if not all of the profits will be used to prop up some corporate office far far away from here.

Once again the leaders of this City prove to us they have no understanding of Economic Development or of commitment. Where does a feller start with this one?

I guess some history is in order first, I will start like all good fairy tales do in the fair city of Pittsfield.

Once upon a time there was a Chemist here in the City of Pittsfield who worked for a company that was on the cutting edge of technology. The chemist under the direction and guidance of that company toiled with his team of scientists, engineer,s and technicians, pushing the bounds of the chemistry field . Many considered him the professor of a university. Yes folks, Daniel Fox — the father of Lexan polycarbonate resin and the informal founder of the school known as Dan Fox University — was memorialized not with just a street but an entire area in the city of Pittsfield that area known as Dan Fox Drive.

Dan Fox Drive was set aside to be the “Silicon Valley” of the City, the High Tech area used to draw researchers and high tech business here to our fair city, but as you might recall, about 10 years ago the then Mayor and the Council were approached to rezone the area and, suddenly, Dan Fox Drive morphed; it was going to be a tourist and cultural Mecca, if only we hurried and rezoned and built the Patriot resort.

Once again this box hotel was going to bring hundreds of jobs and save our fair city and create a need for restaurants and other small-scale offerings. There were those who counseled against the plan or at least a more deliberative and inclusive discussion, but alas, they were told: “We must hurry and allow this or there will be nothing but gloom and despair on the horizon.”

We sacrificed one of the prime areas for high tech in the city for is now a defunct entity. Doesn’t seem like a wise move in hindsight.

Now we read that the big interest — suddenly — is in putting a retail center in the William Stanley Business park. This isn’t economic development. This is foolish at best. First of all everyone knows retail is not a stimulus for economic development but an outgrowth of a successful economic development program with years of careful tendering. People spend money they have in surplus — i.e., disposable income — at retail outlets. The economy that is developed by this action will determine the type style and size of the retail outlets.

A master plan was properly developed, payed for, and adopted by the PEDA board some years back. The master plan included comments from the public that were incorporated into the document. From the PEDA website: “It includes 52 acres near the heart of downtown, with 12 distinct sites providing opportunities for a range of businesses, from IT and finance, to biotech and light industrial.” I often confuse Biotech with Lowes, like you probably do.

Folks, this property is way too valuable to allow for this type development in the heart of the city. If someone wants to put retail in the city, there are any number of more suitable locations.

We need to voice our concerns loud and often on this issue. The Park was set up tobe a campus type environment with walking paths and trails to enjoy the outdoors and Silver Lake, yes Silver Lake. I visit campuses all over the country, not college campuses but business parks where intellectual property is developed and research and development is done, and I can’t recall a single one next to a KMART. What will become of the light rail? Wasted? Can the neighborhood survive the traffic? And can the fragile environment survive the paving and all that goes with a retail setting of that size?

And as we learned here on THE PLANET,  75% of the people in this area do not have adequate health insurance how will another set of entry level positions change this?

We need to vet this one out. Stay tuned


We thank Joe Pinhead. Now we Move on to Facebook and this posting:

By MIKE WARD, Ward 4 city councilor

Special to the PLANET via Facebook

I do not share the Eagle editorial board’s enthusiasm for building a shopping center in the Williams Stanley Business Park. This does not feel like a “pragmatic move,” as they call it. It feels a lot like “settling” to me.

Some businesses bring money into the community, some just move money around the community, while other businesses literally siphon money out of the community. That is what this deal represents: siphoning of money. I realize that we cannot always guide development as much as we’d like to. It is a free country after all, and things like BJ’s are going to happen on private land.

But *this* is a parcel we should have a say in. Did the people of Pittsfield get a chance to sign off on this lowering-of-standards for re-development of the site? No. I’m a city councilor and I didn’t even get the memo. I could not be more disappointed.


We thank our Right Honorable Good Friend, outgoing councilor Ward, for his permission to use his FB posting. Now we hera from the unsinkable Molly.


PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

I drive by The Patriot Suites often and wonder what in the heck is going to happen with that building? Is it just rotting away and will soon be yet another eyesore in Pittsfield? Also, how many tenants are now in the “business park” out there? I think the US Gov’t closed the National Archives, and so that leaves just Berkshire Hematology & Oncology?

Pittsfield can’t attract any other businesses to this “business park”. Also, I’d be interested to see the actual deal on this “big box retailer” — just how many tax breaks are we giving them? How long will it be until the City sees ANY tax revenue from this? And how many businesses are going to be interested in being a neighbor of a Lowe’s vs. a tenant in a nice business park where they can bring in potential clients to impress them? I’d like to see some more thought put into this as well… Sounds like it’s too late, though – all the thought that’s going to be put into it has already taken place (none?).

and this, from MOLLY, a day later. She first begins by addressing a request to see the Master Plan. Lo and behold: It’s suddenly unavailable!

No can do! The PEDA Master Plan has disappeared from cyberspace (along with a few other city documents that I’ve been looking for recently). I found links to it from the PEDA site and the EPA website, but mysteriously, it has disappeared and the links just errors-out. As Gomer Pile used to say, “surprise, surprise, surprise! – Take a look – upper left side, it says, “click here to download the Master Plan 28 MB” Don’t waste your time – it’s not there. BUT – you could go to the website specifically for the “William Stanley Business Park” but I wouldn’t recommend that as there’s next to nothing on this site, either. Under the “Our Mission” tab, you will see: “In keeping with the strategic focus, the park is designed as a campus-like and livable environment in a small city setting.”

I did find a short one-page summary of it:, but it won’t let me copy and paste any of the text. Hmmmmm – what in the hell is going on? Here’s a few things that are stated (as it backs up what you said on your earlier post):

“Target markets are light manufacturing, rail dependent companies, office space and research & development laboratories.”

* “The park includes complementary site amenities such as an adult education/job training center, shared support services including printing, overnight mail delivery, office space and food services for employees on the site. Other advantages of the site are its rail access” etc.PEDA and Sasaki strived to preserve the desirable attributes of the site, ensure the quality of design, create desired cohesion of landscape and architectural design and target a market of users.”

“Critical to the design considerations were the key architectural features of the buildings that already exist in downtown Pittsfield…….”. “The buildings are oriented toward the streets and are located close to one another to create a sense of community.” “The planners designed a pedestrian path system that would link every business location to Silver Lake.”




  1. dusty
    December 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    You paint a pretty grim picture here Dan. Ruberto has the power to stop this thing in its tracks..have you discussed it with him?

    My guess is that he has been on this since day one and has signed off on every part of it. So how bad can it be if Jimmy Ruberto wants it? He does love Pittsfield and the people in it doesn’t he? He would not do anything that was not in our best interests would he?

    Of course not so let’s just drop the subject and enjoy our Christmas get together s

    Merry Christmas folks..

    • Richard
      December 26, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      How bad you ask if Ruberto is behind it its bad. By putting a shopping center at the G E site you will just draw people away from a down town that you are trying to build up. Keep the G E sight for a business that will pay a wage that you can support a family on.

  2. Boom
    December 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Dan, is there any truth to the rumor that over 20K is being spent on renovations to the corner office by the fiscally responsible mayor-elect?

  3. joetaxpayer
    December 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Really think much more thought and consideration, to the scope of the project should be considered.This will take up almost 1/3 of the entire park.The feelings of the abutters should be taken into account too.I really dont think that this is the right place for this plaza.We can’t grow land,it is a valuble resource and we should’nt sell ourselfs short.The timing of this annoucement is kinda wierd also,remember just before the last election the annoucement of Slater College building a 20,000 sq. ft. building become the first tentant of the park.We all know how that turned out.

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

      Joe Taxpayer,
      The feelings of the abutters were taken into consideration, as were the feelings of every interested party. This is what the Master Planning process is all about. It runs much deeper than that- it is the law. It was also outlined in the DEDA workings etc. I’m not certain who thinks none of that process matters but we have to now get engaged. When was the Master plan revised? By whom? Was the City’s Master plan amended to reflect the changes? A few million questions to go. This one’s far from over.

  4. Shakes His Head
    December 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    @ BOOM

    Offices are offices, I asked for new furniture several time during my career and always got it. Considering the past administration could barely tie their shoes, let alone work a computer, I wouldn’t be surprised if everything is all junk. Would you really want a deskthat people put their feet on and chair where Ruberto sat for 8 years. Or those filthy couches? City Hall itself is not in good condition and if improvements are made to the building to make it more respectable, $20 or $20k, i applaud it. But I sorely doubt the mayor elect would make that kind of faux pas.

    If you want a story, how about FOIA the mayor’s offices expenses and payroll over the past year. UNlimited overtime, extra stipends. A little investigatino may turn rumors into interesting facts.

    @ Joe Pinhead’s article- I think your conclusions are headed in the right direction, but other than referencing the planning documents, it really feels like opinion without evidence.

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      No it was not just opinion without evidence! It is more a call to action than anything. There is a lot of work to be done here to make educated statements and to ensure rational debate and discussion takes place.
      There are a ton of questions and you are free to help us all by researching the subject(s) pick one please let us know what area you are working on.
      Molly has driven towards getting us the documents in question; Mr. Heller has gotten us the Master Plan and the enabling legislation now we have to work from the proper data set to ensure we make sense of it.
      SHH can we count on you to verify that the Silk Mill project has or has not leveraged federal urban development funds for its project based upon an urban model that puts retail in walking distance for its occupants, IE to prevent urban sprawl and to concentrate on sustainable “LEEDS” type developments? Or are they leveraging any McKinney 1 or McKinney 2 funding sources or anything similar? I am not saying they are I am Asking for the funding trail and the incentives and the requirements mandated by them, There is no free lunch and often times one needs to take a broader look to see the entire picture.
      We Can look to the Ramapo decision and we then need to look at the weight given to the Master Plan for the project area as well as the Master plan for the City to decide if it fits and what are actions can and cannot be. The DEDA agreement and the WSBP forbid retail; did someone reopen the agreement to amend it? What type of planning govern each of the plans? I’m guessing you are aware of the 2 types is each plan governed the same?
      Standard Zoning Enabling Act
      (SZEA), promulgated by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1926
      The SZEA is model legislation for states to use in enabling local governments
      To undertake comprehensive land use regulation.
      The Standard City Planning Enabling Act of 1928
      (SPEA), planted further seeds of confusion.6 The SPEA Model Code affords local governments the option to preserve future rights of way
      With a “city” or “master” plan, but does not use the term “comprehensive
      plan” found in Section 3 of the SZEA.
      Since there are so many agencies involved in the PEDA area some time is needed to sort it all out. As you can imagine the 1972 landmark Ramapo NY case has as many nuisances as politicians have excuses, I have shepardized the case and other relevant case law and there is probably 50 hours worth of just untangling the web of control, then we need to understand its applicability to our situation then we have to see which avenue(s) to proceed down. So what can I put you down for? Just sayin

      • Joe Pinhead
        December 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

        Sorry I forgot the link to the DEDA I mentioned above from the EPA’s website. Forgive me I was in between Christmas cookies and we all know that Santa is going to be needing some.

        Please refer to the allowable and unallowable activities


      • Molly
        December 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

        🙂 Nice response!! 🙂

        I thought you were in the Medical field??? So instead of a doctor, you are a Juris Doctor? 🙂

        Yowzer, this is a LOT of work! I’ll get back to you on what I will volunteer to do tomorrow after I look into some of these things a tad.

        DV – isn’t it a requirement that meeting minutes be taken for any meeting dealing with the WSBP and PEDA (Actually, any meeting that includes a public employee or elected official?) And wouldn’t accessibility to these meeting minutes fall under the “Freedom Of Information Act”? Or am I just a dreamer?

        • Shakes His Head
          December 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

          Nice response, except Federal statute doesn’t control local planning and zoning. Massachusetts law doesn’t require consistency between planning and zoning.

        • Shakes His Head
          December 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

          The Ramapo, NY case was in NY court and has no bearing outside the Empire State. MInutes could be like clOsed session minutes because the involve ongoing litigious matters

          • Joe Pinhead
            December 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

            simply not true, it is dependant upon what funds were used to develop the planning document. For example say HUD grants 50k towards a master plan, the planning agency would need to ensure the terms and conditions of the grant were satisfied. There has been any number of studies done on the case it reaches way past the empire state. Many states have rewritten, amended etc because of both its impacts and the findings.
            With the EPA and the courts in so deep over there and so many resources involved the feds will get a say in the matter.

        • Joe Pinhead
          December 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

          🙂 Molly I am in the medical field and I am not an MD. I did learn to shepardize case law. All the meetings should have minutes that are available via a public records request. SHH appears to have information and has answers to alot of the questions that were presented. However he/ she does not seem to be willing to share.
          Maybe as things progress they will change their mind so I guess I have my homework to do

      • Shakes His Head
        December 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

        You Obviously know better than I. I shall recuse my self from this discussion and you can have fun throwing around whatever you like. Have fun on the computer and ignore my fifteen years of expertise.

        • Joe Pinhead
          December 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

          please do share with us, but please share something we can move forward with. Throw something in the game you know an avenue to explore. I have been plodding through all sorts of data. As I asked in the first post what can we count on from you? You speak of your years of expertise yet that’s all you have put out there. Your 15 years of experience could be helpful however I’m seeing little evidence of it in your posts.
          Jump in the waters fine and we would could benifit from it.

          • Shakes His Head
            December 26, 2011 at 6:37 am #

            Just look at what Masssachusetts statutes have been invoked for development of the site. If the city and GE agree on a change to the consent agreement for uses, then I seriously doubt EPA would object as long as the physical remediation remains unaltered. And although there maybe many state cases that point this way or that, and certianly other states and the federal courts can reference them for consideration when writing an opinion, jurisdiction is important because fo the 14th Amendment.

            I just cannot lay it out for you on a blog.

  5. Ray Ovac
    December 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Molly’s discovery that the Master Plan is no longer accessible on PEDA’s web site is quite the revelation. Why do the political hacks at PEDA feel it necessary to hide the agency’s central document? And why now? This reeks of Pittsfield’s Good Ol’ Boys doing what they do best. (With this crowd, nothing happens by accident — except being discovered for what they truly are. e.g. Stracuzzi, Nilan, etc.) Cutting off access to the key report would be suspicious enough, but for this to be taking place simultaneous with the announcement that a connected developer is coming in to build big box stores on the PEDA site could mean there’s something in the Master Plan which directly conflicts with what the GOB’s and the developer are now planning.

  6. joetaxpayer
    December 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    20,000 thou for new furniture,who does he think he is Deval.Who cares its only a drop in the bucket.

  7. Richard
    December 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm #


    December 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    How about the house at 56 Circular Ave. That Pittsfield’s Department of Community Development saved from the wrecking ball. It cost $316,000 to remodel and now the are selling it for a bargin price of $108,000…..WOW! I understand the money came from federal stimulus but it is still our money being wasted! I would like to know who got that contract and why it cost so much! DISGUSTED!!

    • Molly
      December 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      I agree! I’m totally disgusted with this city’s dirty politics which includes the anticipated “spin” from the Berkshire Eagle. “Despite the negative financial return on the city’s investment, the project has long-range benefits.” “This is a way for the city to enhance the investment of people living in the West Side neighborhood,” said Ward 6 Councilor John M. Krol Jr., who represents the West Side.” “We’re spending money to improve the neighborhood,” said Pullaro. “It’s not just about the sale of the house.”

      And this is not SPIN?? This is not them saying “the citizens of Pittsfield are really stupid and if we print it, they will believe it”? To me, this shows exactly what a poor business leader Krol really is!!! The cost to renovate was THREE TIMES the sale price? And this doesn’t even include the cost of the lot that it sits on, so then the cost was FOUR TIMES the selling price? And I’d bet a dollar to a donut that the work that was done was shabby at best! Why didn’t they just tear it down and put up a modular? Or just tear it down and turn the lot into a park or a Community Garden? Or donate the lot to Habitat For Humanity and they would build a new house for a DESERVING family! Or tear it down and wait until Taconic can build it (they couldn’t why? That was never answered.).

      REALLY? You actually expect people to be THIS stupid and to believe your political crap?? It’s truly very insulting! And you’re absolutely correct – it is DISGUSTING!!!

      I also agree that we deserve to know who the Contractor was and I’d like to see every single bill related to this cost! There wasn’t a signed contract with the General Contractor BEFORE WORK BEGAN that said the General Contractor will do this, this, this and this for a total cost of (an exact amount of money) and then approvals of that spending of tax dollars?? Who in the hell would agree to do this without that in-hand? Apparently, John Krol!!!! $316,000, not including the price of the land, there’s not even a garage to park a car in, and it’s on Circular Avenue!!! HELLLOOOOO???? A five year old knows enough math to not do that deal! (Yes, EVEN in PPS!). That stimulus money should’ve been used to fix up six houses, not ONE! I, too, am very DISGUSTED!!

      • Joe Pinhead
        December 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

        In fairness to Councilor Krol he was to busy trying to figure out where he worked and lost sight of the costs on that project. The interesting thing to see is what will that property be put on the rolls for? The $316,000 or the $108? I can hardly wait to see that one. Councilor Krol care to justify that one either way?
        Just sayin

        • Molly
          December 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

          It’s assessed for FY2012 at $123,300. You’re right – it will be interesting to see next year’s…

      • joetaxpayer
        December 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

        Wonder if this project even went out to bid,my guess is no,$316,000 not bad.The real problem is they could have helped 3 famillies at this cost.

        • joetaxpayer
          December 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

          I miss spoke,it was put out to bid in aug. 2010 and the low bidder was Souliere & Zepka Co Inc. from Adams.There total bid including the add ons was 281,259.

      • San Simeon
        December 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

        I have a neighbor who did some work on this house. He says the contracts for the construction were “a joke.” Asked him what he meant. He said “Follow the money.” Sounds like somebody or a few somebodies has a killing here, He also said that he didn’t like much of the work he saw, the workmanship, as Molly speculates. What company did the insulation?? Who made out here? It was not the taxpayers. This looks like more of the same corruption that has run this city into the ground. Please Mr. Bianchi fight it.

        • Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
          December 27, 2011 at 6:39 am #

          I bet Doyle’s van full of undocumented workers did the insulation.

    • Molly
      December 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

      Ahhhhh – I just happened upon a “Request For Bid” for the “Rehabilitation of 56 Circular Avenue” on the city’s website. The “Estimated Amount Of Bid” was $110,000.00. Unnnnnbelievable! Oh but wait – there’s MORE! Each request for bid has a tab to click on to see the “bid results”, so of course, I clicked on that and received, “Oops – This link appears to be broken”! hahahahahahaha So for fun, I clicked on “Plan Holders List” and, yes – you guessed it, “Oops – This link appears to be broken!” OH MY GOD!!!!

      • Molly
        December 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

        Found it elsewhere – here are the bid results for 56 Circular Ave (keep in mind that the Request For Bid estimated $110,000.00). Anyone know of these companies?

        Kurtz Incorporated

        Souliere & Zepka Construction, Inc.

        R.A.C. Builders

  9. Hoppity
    December 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    What other town or self-respecting city would put up with the sudden disappearance of the Master Plan, just at the time of this suspicious announcement. This stinks to low llamas, that’s for sure. I want to agree with what the Planet says in urging Mayor Bianchi to immediately look into this upon taking office, at least give us the master plan so we can see how this project does or soes not violate it.

  10. Terry Kinnas
    December 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Contrary to what some people think, manufacturing is not dead. Additionally it pays better than retail so people don’t have to work 2 to 3 part time jobs.

    Manufacturing in Pittsfield, according to the state’s employment and wage report(Q1-11), has 60 establishments with 2,163 employees, average per quarter, with quarterly wages of $ 55,205,740.

    The state web site address is:

    Retail for the same period has 194 establishments with 3,149 employees, average per quarter, and quarterly wages of $19,922,252. As the industrial zoned land has been taken over by housing and retail operations, has the city zoned other properties industrial to keep proper land use requirements in place?

    Just to update some other blog discussion areas, BMC Inc. only paid about $594 k in property taxes in FY11. Carr Hardware’s location on North St (listed as a LLC) paid about 22K+ in FY11

    Another fact on file: The City of Pittsfield owns 99 North St., the former Legacy Bank Building.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

    • Molly
      December 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

      Good post, Mr. Kinnas!

      A few questions though – Where are you getting these dollar amounts on the taxes from? Is there another “secret tax sheet” somewhere that you can share with us? I’m going by the only two documents that I’m aware of: “The FY 2012 Real Estate Assessment Abstract” and “The FY 2012 Personal Property Assessment Abstract” which by law and including reviews by the State Bureau of Local Assessments, should be the “Official Documents” as stated in the following “cut and paste” from The City Of Pittsfield website:
      The Pittsfield Board of Assessors has released the real estate and personal property assessments for January 1, 2011 Property Abstract. The assessments are the result of the City wide property revaluation which was completed for Fiscal Year 2012. State law requires that a comprehensive review of all properties in the City be assessed annually and recertified by the Department of Revenue every three (3) years. Municipalities are responsible for developing a reasonable and realistic program to achieve the fair cash valuation of property in accordance with law. This program includes, but is not limited to, a review and analysis of existing property values and verification of existing property record information. All properties are revalued in accordance with law and DOR guidelines. These assessments were finalized by the Pittsfield Board of Assessors, and are pending both preliminary and final review by the State Bureau of Local Assessments. The public may view this Assessments Abstract on the City website
      I have found Carr Hardware is listed as a TAX EXEMPT Corporation from two other reputable websites! And as such, pays NO (as in ZERO) property taxes! It is NOT listed in the FY2012 Real Estate Assessment at all – not listed under the name of Carr Hardware, not listed under the last name of Raser. So I did a search of the document on their address of 547 North Street. NOPE! That address is not listed! However, they ARE listed in the “FY2012 Personal Property Assessments” under “Carr Hardware” but with an address of 537 North Street and with a value of $21,320. The FY 2012 taxes on that would be a mere $700. Yet you see somewhere that Carr Hardware paid $22,000 last year? Where do you see that?

      As for Berkshire Medical Center (just this one of the 26 different corporations under the BHS umbrella), the property they own in Pittsfield is valued at a total of $118,398,760. However, they are a “tax exempt corporation” and as such, pay NO (as in ZERO) property taxes! The FY2012 taxes on that property, if BMC was not tax exempt, would be $3.99 MILLION DOLLARS. Yet you see “somewhere” that BMC paid $594K in FY2011?? Where do you see this?

      The City Of Pittsfield IS listed as the owner of 99 North Street – the former home to Legacy Bank – on the “FY2012 Real Estate Assessment Abstract”. Do you know when “we the people” became the owner of this property? Was it prior to Berkshire Bank buying them or after? If before, did we collect rent from Legacy? Which makes me wonder WHY “we the people” bought this property? This all brought me to then look at the properties that Berkshire Bank owns and I’ve found that the old “Pop-Corner” building at 8 North Street, is not listed in the FY 2012 Real Estate Assessment Abstract” at all!!! Nor does Berkshire Bank list it on their website as one of their locations. So who now owns 8 North Street? Berkshire Bank IS listed in the FY2012 Real Estate Assessment, but only the property at 66 Allen Street, with a value of $1,569,900.

      So for fun, I did a search on The Highland Restaurant. Nope – not listed. Not listed under “The Highland Restaurant” – ok, many businesses are owned by a name or company different than it’s common name (‘doing business as’ or dba), so again, did a search on the address of 100 Fenn Street. It does NOT appear on the “Real Estate Assessment” at all. However, it does (under the name of ‘The Highland Restaurant’) appear in the “Personal Property Assessment” with a value of $6,220.

      My last question is how is it that some properties that are within the city limits, are not listed on either of the FY2012 Real Estate Assessments nor on the FY2012 Personal Property Assessments which are the supposed “Official Documents” waiting approval from the IRS? According to the Board of Assessors website, it is the LAW to assess all properties within Pittsfield ANNUALLY and these are the supposed “official Assessments”. Perhaps I should pay more attention to the word “Abstract”?? Just in my search of 5 properties, 3 of the 5 are just NOT listed! So where’s the “secret sheet” that lists them ALL? Do you know? It has to be “somewhere” as it’s pretty poor that 3 of the 5 properties that I searched for are NOT listed! (Carr Hardware at 547 North Street, The “Pop-Corner” at 8 North Street, and The Highland Restaurant at 100 Fenn Street). What in the hell is going on in this city? We don’t need just an audit of the PPS, Dan – we need an independent audit of the entire City Of Pittsfield!!!!

      • acheshirecat
        December 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

        Very interesting stuff Molly. I always thought Compuworks (?) bought the old City Savings bank at 99 North St.. But now that Molly has jogged my old memory I remember that when the Palace was torn down CSB had to maintain the park and parking lot. I know this as fact because I worked for the company contracted to the job. That ended when CSB (Legacy) moved accross the street. Also the owner of Carrs was on the board of CSB/Legacy and made out real good when Berkshire Bank merged with Legacy. Merry Christmas!

  11. Mark Smith
    December 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Reply to Molly and Disgusted re: Circular Ave renovation

    I agree 100%. I read the article and almost spit out my coffee. Who in the work would spend $316k to sell a house for only $108k? Wait I know! The Taxpayers!

    Just like the Silk Mill Project now in progress. $14 million in credits and grants to make 45 “affordable” units in the heart of a ghetto. That’s $311,000 per unit all on the taxpayer’s dime.

    When will this insanity end?

    • Scott
      December 24, 2011 at 1:42 am #

      And to top it off the GC handling it won’t give a deposit to any of the subs so the work will go to the usual high rollers who can afford to put up that kind of cash. Kind of sucks I’m trying to bid on it now and you’re right “affordable housing” is just a disguise to get free money from the tax payers it’s a big Boston company who could give two shits if the units are even occupied when they’re done. Also the specs they gave me make it impossible to give an accurate square foot price it’s very vague.

  12. Joe Pinhead
    December 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    If anyone who wants but has yet to read the agreements above here is a link via the EPA’s website.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

  13. Tito
    December 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    The model hasn’t worked,doesn’t anyone remember big n,brackets,englands the mall. This is to give construction and service contracts to build these behemoth strip malls. Bianchi is being set up for failure, read all you want into this statement, it’s a foundation of manure.

  14. Molly
    December 24, 2011 at 12:25 am #

    BROKEN HYDRANT TO BE REPLACED in today’s BB. This is good – I’m glad that it’s getting fixed. But how did they not know about this as it had a “lock ring” to indicate that it wasn’t working?? Good for White’s comment back to Collingwood’s unbelievably stupid excuse! How is it that the city replaces 10 to 20 per YEAR and yet there are currently 20 broken hydrants? And when, exactly, will they all be replaced? And ok, now I want to see the list of them, too!!!

  15. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    DV, according to PEDA’s Master Plan, under the Definitive Economic Development Agreement, Commercial (retail) use is PROHIBITED.
    No wonder the Good Ol’ Boys at PEDA and City Hall cut off public access on the Web to the Master Plan!

    Quoted verbatim from PEDA MASTER PLAN: Pg. 7 (PDF pg. 13 of 63):

    Land Uses

    The DEDA (Definitive Economic Development Agreement) land use restrictions are more limiting than those stipulated in the Consent Decree. Permitted, “as-of-right” uses stipulated in the DEDA include:

    • Warehousing and storage.
    • Product distribution.
    • Information technology manufacturing and
    support systems.
    • Wholesale.
    • Assembly and other light manufacturing.
    • Packaging.
    • Data processing and software development.
    • Financial services (non-retail).

    Prohibited uses include:

    • Residential uses.
    • Educational facilities, except for potential development
    of adult education in conjunction with GE
    and PEDA.
    • Recreational and athletic facilities, except as provided
    elsewhere in the agreement.
    • Daycare and elder-care facilities.
    • Commercial (retail) uses.
    • Museums, galleries and libraries, except as part of
    educational facilities as set forth above.
    • Food-based businesses, except as incidental to educational
    facilities as set forth above or as part of
    customary and necessary internal operations by permitted

    Use restrictions were in part determined to limit activities
    to those with exposure consistent with the remediation
    standards developed for the property: light industrial use.
    These use restrictions were developed as guidelines for the
    property before the results of the recent extensive sampling
    were available, and as such, a process was outlined in the
    DEDA to enter into discussion with GE concerning the
    permitting of additional uses, if desired. These land use
    limits will become deed restrictions unless PEDA exercises
    its right under the DEDA to broaden allowed uses.
    Test results for 2002 show that land contamination is
    less than had been anticipated in the DEDA.

    DV, based on the quoted passage above, did DEDA’s prohibitions become “deed restrictions”?
    Did PEDA officially exercise “its right under the DEDA to broaden allowed uses”?

    • Ray Ovac
      December 24, 2011 at 4:46 am #

      On this question of whether “Did PEDA officially exercise ‘its right under the DEDA to broaden allowed uses'”?

      If so, when and where did PEDA’s official meeting take place wherein this broadening of “allowed uses” to include “commercial (retail) uses” was formally and officially approved by PEDA’s board?
      Was that PEDA meeting advertised in advance to the public under the state’s Open Meeting regulations, and was public notice given that the topic of said meeting was to decide whether or not to “broaden allowed uses on PEDA land to include commercial retail”?

    • joetaxpayer
      December 24, 2011 at 7:15 am #

      @Ray 4years ago when Slater College was going to move in,GE was willing to waive the educational stipulation.So all it will take is for them to do it again to make this project a go.

  16. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    Quoted verbatim from PEDA MASTER PLAN: Pg. 35 (PDF pg. 41 of 63):

    “Land at the Stanley Business Park will initially be leased
    (for a period of at least five years, as prescribed in the
    DEDA), with an option to buy after the lease term

  17. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Quoted verbatim from PEDA MASTER PLAN: Pg. 37 (PDF pg. 43 of 63):

    “Financing Plan
    Until about 2009, when PEDA can start to sell Stanley
    Business Park land, revenues may be generated by land
    leases (offered at the low end of current market rates,
    due to the legal complications and stigma associated
    with the past land contamination).”

  18. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Quoted verbatim from PEDA MASTER PLAN: Pg. 49 (PDF pg. 55 of 63):

    PEDA’s Site Plan Requirements

    “• For safety reasons, no service drive serving 50,000
    square feet or more of commerce will be located
    within 100 feet of egress from a parking area for 30
    or more vehicles. Parking will not be allowed on
    streets within the campus. Limited parking (for visitors
    and handicapped employees) will be provided in
    the front of each commercial structure. The remainder
    of the parking will be supplied to the sides or rear of
    the structure.”

  19. Ray Ovac
    December 24, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Quoted verbatim from PEDA MASTER PLAN: Pg. 37 (PDF pg. 43 of 63):

    New facilities will contribute taxes or, in the case of PEDA
    acting as developer, a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT)
    agreement if it builds a facility for tenant leasing.

    Table 8. Projected Property Tax Revenues
    Master Plan Master Plan Alternative
    Tax Revenues Low High Low High
    R&D/Flex $322,850 $434,380 $290,565 $396,225
    Office $804,190 $1,085,950 $707,335 $953,875
    Industrial/Other $223,060 $299,370 $240,670 $328,720
    Total $1,350,100 $1,819,700 $1,238,570 $1,678,820
    Source: RKG Associates, Inc.

    NOTE: These property tax revenue estimates do not
    include any projected revenues from taxation of the land
    during the first stage of the redevelopment. PEDA will
    hold the land in accordance with the provisions of the
    Definitive Economic Development Agreement (DEDA).
    PEDA will not be subject to taxation on the land, due to
    its status as a non-taxable entity.

  20. dusty
    December 24, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    So does anyone from the PEDA board want to come forward and throw some light on the subject? I hear Gary Grunin of Civic Authority fame has been riding the PEDA gravy train since the early days. Surely he could readily answer any and all questions. Of course he is a GOB and may not want to poke his nose out of his little hole unless there is a piece of cheese for him. But let’s ask him anyway. Oh Gary..Gary are you there? Gareeeeee?

    • Steve Wade
      December 24, 2011 at 7:26 am #

      People you need to get a life! Its Chrismas Eve and you people have nothing better to do than Blog about PEDA? I feel sorry for you. Merry Chrismas

      • Steve Wade
        December 24, 2011 at 7:27 am #

        Sorry Christmas my bad!

      • Ray Ovac
        December 24, 2011 at 9:06 am #

        Stuff it, Steve Wade (aka disgraced former Mayor Gerry Doyle)! You’re one of the Good Ol’ Boy political bozos who got the city into this mess to begin with with your disgraceful caving into GE during the Consent Decree negotiations. The City would have been far better off had you just sent the bartender into the meeting room and you stayed behind at the bar! Further, Christmas Eve ain’t til tonight, or in your daily stupor did you forget to notice that it’s right now daylight?

        • Steve Wade
          December 24, 2011 at 10:05 am #

          Ray or Heller No Im not Doyle. Far from it. [REDACTED: THE POSTER IS WARNED. NO PERSONAL ATTACKS] Merry Christmas you lonely man.

          • Molly
            December 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

            Christmas EVE, meaning “the evening before Christmas”. I did notice that you were logged on and reading these posts… And replying. But most of us won’t have our Christmas Eve cocktail until this EVENING. Interesting also that this is the only rebuttal that you can come up with? How about looking out for the citizens of Pittsfield for a change and jump in and help out? There’s a thought!

            Merry Christmas to you as well. And a delightful upcoming Christmas EVE, too!

          • Boom
            December 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

            Christmas Eve can refer to the evening or the entire day preceding Christmas. Just sayin. RO, hope you get a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past…sounds like you could use it. So sad.

      • Scott
        December 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

        Perhaps they are not all christian??? Anyone up for Chinese tomorrow???

        • Molly
          December 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

          Excellent point, Scott!!! Not very “PC” of him!!!

    • Hoppity
      December 24, 2011 at 11:58 am #

      GRunin, you heard it. We want answers. Or are you too busy riding the Gravy Train to give them. What a bunch of phonies at PEDA. Corydon, how bout you. Youre the bobo whose shillin’ for these jokers. You got anything to say?

  21. Porcupine Tree
    December 24, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I think it all came down to either have retail in that space, or let it sit vacant forever. Yes, retail jobs suck. Yes, we really don’t need any more retail here. But in reality manufacturing just wasn’t going to go there. As Ward suggested we did ‘settle’ but at least something is going there rather than having an empty space for our lifetimes there. The master plan to put manufacturing there was a mistake from the beginning.
    On a side note, these box stores are owned and run by large corporations. Yet the pay and benefits for these jobs are terrible. And if you are in management you may get paid a decent wage but are worked to death (sometimes literally) with 50-60 hour workweeks. Meanwhile the c-suite for these corporations rake in millions of dollars in salary (stock options taxed at only 15% when the rest of us pay 25%) and bonuses. To me, this is all proof that the wealthy are grossly undertaxed in this nation of ours while the middle class is grossly overburdened.

  22. Tito
    December 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    You can betcha someones has there greedy hands in this.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Yep time to enjoy Christmas and our families and friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all.

    • joetaxpayer
      December 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

      Merry Christmas to all.Yes Steve Wade and Boom it is now Christmas eve,hope you and your loved ones have a merryxmass.

      • Scott
        December 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

        I hope Steve Wade’s Christmas sucks. Merry חֲנֻכָּה!

        • Steve Wade
          December 26, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

          Scott maybe if you were a good painter you would get more work.. PS I got the Lee job Ha Ha….

          • Scott
            December 27, 2011 at 5:01 am #

            Steve maybe if you weren’t so fat you’d be less miserable ha, ha. I painted the town hall in Lanesborough. Saved the tax payers a ton of money.

  24. Unchy
    December 25, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    Is Doyle the most disliked politician in the city,ever?

    • joetaxpayer
      December 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      That is up to debate.Like to hear other peoples thoughts.My canidate is Mayor Wojotski sorry about the spelling

    • Molly
      December 25, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

      For me, it’s Stracuzzi — hands down!

      • danvalenti
        December 26, 2011 at 9:56 am #

        He gets my vote, as well. Worst politician in our time, when all of the factors are taken in to account.

      • Joe Pinhead
        December 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm #


    • dusty
      December 26, 2011 at 3:14 am #

      So many to choose from in Pittsfield. If Ruberto is not the worst he sure gets high honors. And no Jimmy, in this case high honors is not a good thing.

  25. Dead to Rights
    December 25, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Merry Christmas, all friends and foes on The Planet, and please join me in a thanks to DV for putting this together. What a great service to the community, all can contribute. Most do. Happy holidays for all my non-Christian friends.

    • Molly
      December 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

      Agree! Thank you, Dan! Hope you had a Merry Christmas! May the New Year bring no city scandals and a forensic audit of the entire city!! 🙂

  26. LV
    December 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Dan truly does give of himself in this forum. This is a public service, he gets paid absolutely NOTHING for it, and spends much of his time researching for us all to have a place to find the TRUTH. I wish only the best for him and for all of his family and loved ones, friends and even foes for this coming new year and in many years to come. He deserves our gratitude and love.

    Thank you, DV. Hope you had a delightful Christmas!

  27. Terry Kinnas
    December 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    The property tax information is in the Assessor’s Office. The information had to be looked up and copied manually. Anyone can go in there and cross-reference the information. BMC Inc. was tedious but not complex. Carr Hardware location is listed as a LLC under a different name and I had to do some cross checking. The location owned by the LLC and paid the property taxes. I did not check out the LLC in detail. The 99 North St property is/was the most interesting. As you know it was the newer Legacy Bank building. The information came from the land court section of the Registry of Deeds: this section is not digitized yet. Interesting and fun. The lease was signed by then Mayor Gerry Doyle and City Counsel Tom Hickey in 1999. I did not misspell counsel: that is the legal document. It is a 30 year lease with an option to buy by lessee after 30 years for a single dollar. I was told by Registry personnel that the lease was picked up by Berkshire Bank. There is more to this one and I have not received an information packet from a third party to complete the ?

    • Molly
      December 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      WOW!!! This is truly UNBELIEVABLE!!! Who paid for the building to be built?

      Thanks so much for the info… Just the taxes that would have/should have been paid on this property would have allowed for no tax increases, or very minimal increases, for the rest of us!

      I’m telling ya — a full and very thorough audit from a totally independent company of the entire City of Pittsfield is MORE THAN long overdue!!! What a mess Bianchi is walking into (although it’s not as though he hasn’t been a city politician here for years…). I sure hope he ends up being honest, puts a stop to this kind of sleaziness, and orders a complete audit of the city (cost of that would be money very well spent for a change!).

      • dusty
        December 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

        Perhaps an audit could be paid for by the free cash that was not used to lower the taxes. But I think the voters would be happy to pay for such a thing after paying for all the idiot projects that have been put forward in the last 8 years and are on the drawing boards now.

        I am in envy of those of you who have such research skills. Are there tutorials or courses offered? Or is this a self taught learn as you go type thing?

    December 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Just heard a recent court ruling says people on blogs like this can be sued for what they say about someone. DV any info on this???? If true some people better b careful

    • smh
      December 27, 2011 at 8:05 am #

      Not sure why usual rules wouldn’t apply, since blog posts certainly seem to at least pass the initial “publication” test.

  29. Molly
    December 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    The City Of Pittsfield owns 314 pieces of property in Pittsfield, for a total assessed value of $245,629,741.00. Welllll, let me rephrase that: The FY2012 Property Assessments that have been made public show that The City Of Pittsfield owns 314 pieces of property with a total assessed value of $245,629,741.00. I KNOW that there are numerous properties missing on this assessment (3 out of the 5 that I randomly picked!), so it is also very possible that there are other properties that The City of Pittsfield owns that are ALSO not shown on the assessment. Does this seem excessive to anyone else?

  30. Hilly Billy 2 in Ward 4
    December 27, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Anyone see Chartock’s Saturday column in the Eagle? I thought it had some interesting snipits…

  31. joetaxpayer
    December 27, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    @Molly,Yes it does seem excessive.Have been saying for years that the city should auction off all properties that are not being used.Lets get them back on the tax rolls.Also anyone who is serverely behind in property taxes should have there property taken and auctioned off.I am talking about owners that havnt paid in 5 years.I know its only a drop in the bucket,but it will add up.

  32. Dead to Rights
    December 27, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Alan Charticktock revealed his jealously of The Planet!! Also funny how he sucks up to The Beautiful People, like he soooo wants ta be included!!

  33. Unchy
    December 27, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    @ Dead, What beautiful people? We all wipe our butts with our hands.