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SPRINGSIDE HOUSE: RENOVATION AND REUSE CAN HAPPEN WITH VOLUNTEERS, POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

Second of Two Parts

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, OCT. 21, 2015) — Pittsfield’s appreciation and stewardship of its important buildings and architectural treasures too often means (a) tearing them down (Union Station, the Palace Theater, the Peace House, and too many others to list) or (b) letting them deteriorate until they are past or nearly past redemption (Colonial Theater, Wahconah Park, Springside House, and the like).

In the case of (b), the neglect requires redemption involving an enormous amount of funds than would otherwise have been the case, or an excuse for The Suits to swoop in and destroy. The Palace Theater went to the wrecking ball for this reason and no other, merely because one of The Chosen Ones could have convenient parking for its customers. O, if we only had “instagrams” of the cash-stuffed envelopes that changed hands! Monopoly money, we’re sure.

During the Civic Authority Civil War, Wahconah Park almost got destroyed for that reason. More recently, the decade-long abandonement of maintenance at Taconic High School fit nicely into a fix job meant to assure that a new school would be built regardless of external circumstances (loss of major industry) or need (declining enrollment). And you wonder that the fate of Springside House should arouse suspicion?

Getting SH ‘the Care and Attention It Deserves’

In our recent exchange with SH advocate and preservationist Joe Durwin, these matters could be read between the lines.

I’ve allocated a lot of personal time to this effort because it appeals to both heart and head. If done correctly, the house could accommodate a really interesting combination of activities and programs in its 24 rooms, and the city could get a lot of bang for its buck while re-utilizing a historic treasure with great emotional significance for the Pittsfield residents,” Durwin said.

THE PLANET responded: “You are correct about the potential of SH, which is limited only by the imagination for resolve (and yes, the political resolve) of its stewards. Those stewards are the residents of Pittsfield, and the key to getting the house the care and attention it deserves is to somehow make SH relevant again to them first by appealing to its ’emotional significance’ (an apt phrase) and then to its practical potential. Just how that is done, I suppose, is the crux of the problem.”

JD: “I have to say, the overall public support has been very helpful thus far. We’ve had many wonderful letters of support and input, and the public hearings planning its reuse were very well attended.  One thing that has been effective in keeping residents interested at intervals in the past couple years has been opening the house up to the public and letting them see some of the building and peruse the memorabilia there, and I’d like to look at doing that again this winter and promoting it wildly.

“Thus far the real major impediments have come from the [Bianchi] administration, first with the tantrum scrapping the capital budget last year, which delayed grant application by a full year, then the recent “maintenance” scheme which literally served no purpose and was outside the scope of the restoration plan. It would have offered some beneficial experience to Sheriff Bowler’s inmates, but the renovation plan specifically said not to power wash, and those boards all have to come off now anyway.

“Sadly it appears this project — so prominent in [Bianchi’s] earlier speeches and inaugural promises yet conspicuously absent from campaign literature — has lost its utility as a political chip for Mayor Bianchi.

For the record, Durwin is active in Linda Tyer‘s mayoral campaign.

——– 000 ——–

If the city is ever to shake the bad spell that has kept it in the grips of political voodoo for more than a generation, it will need more citizen activists such as Joe Durwin. Those people exist. They only need to believe that government will not betray them. They will also have to trust that municipal “leaders” can act in a way that makes the quotation marks superfluous.

Talk about miracles.

——————————————————————————————————-

“Infinity, when all things it beheld, / In nothing, and of nothing all did build.”Edward Taylor, opening of his poem, “The Preface,” (1701).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

The views expressed in any comment section are not those of PLANET VALENTI or endorsed in any way by PLANET VALENTI; this website reserves the right to remove any comment which violates its Rules of Conduct, and it is not liable for the consequences of any posted comment as provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and PLANET VALENTI’s terms of service.

 

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spagirl
spagirl
5 years ago

How quickly Hitler the Mayor made Jake regurgitate the unloaded gun.

Anonymous
Anonymous
Reply to  spagirl
5 years ago

I’m no Bianchi fan but comparing him to Hitler has no place in our city. Even aside from the disgusting insult to Bianchi, think about the residents of our city who lost their parents and siblings in concentration camps. Even an anonymous internet commenter such as yourself should be ashamed.

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
Reply to  Anonymous
5 years ago

Just pretend it was someone from MSNBC that compared Bianchi to Hitler. Then it will be alright.

calm down
calm down
Reply to  Anonymous
5 years ago

Adolf Hitler was elected by the people in a democratic process. Once in power he became a dictator.

Nobody is accusing Bianchi of mass murder or concentration camps here.

You need to take your meds and chill out.

The comparison to Hitler is his lockdown / unilateral decisions.

spagirl
spagirl
5 years ago

How quickly Hitler the Mayor made Jake regurgitate the unloaded gun. The blame lies right at Jake.

CosbiesLadies
CosbiesLadies
5 years ago

The Springside house should be deemed a bad bones building, and knocked down. Show residents of Pittsfield that if our buildings are not maintained they get demolished, redundancy and retreads are not to be rebuilt at taxpayer cost.

lakeside
lakeside
Reply to  CosbiesLadies
5 years ago

I thought the topic here is the springside house ? the feasibility study said no power washing or sand blasting yet someone jumped the gun and power washed the whole building doing and exposing extensive damage to the structure,, i have heard that department of labor and industry oversaw this project, why,, because of lead paint removal,, i have also heard that the city of Pittsfield’s head maintenance man gave permission to the paint department to power wash the structure, not prison inmates ??? if indeed this is the case maybe the prison inmates should be in charge of maintenance and the maintenance department spend some time in jail !!

Kathy Lloyd
Kathy Lloyd
Reply to  lakeside
5 years ago

What you say is true. If anything good came out of this (I’m trying to stay positive here…) it’s that the clapboards now are absolutely wrecked and must come down.
Which means that:

we qualify for and have a good chance of getting construction funds from the Mass Historical Commission

when the house is stripped, we can put up a vapor barrier (think: Tyvek)

The inmates can work on removing the boards because of their certifications, thus gaining experience as well as having a certificate.

The house will be properly painted and boarded by a professional.

The MHC now has the house strongly in the front of their minds. Which will provide the oversight and advice from professionals that can only benefit the project.

Kathy

lakeside
lakeside
Reply to  Kathy Lloyd
5 years ago

the question I have is who gave the go ahead for the power washing to take place and has this person been fired ,, who is in charge and has anyone taken responsibility for their actions ??? I think we have a
spring side gate going on here !!!!

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
5 years ago

If Tes is Hitler, what is Lindy, Eva?

MrG8811
MrG8811
5 years ago

Yup…old Jake didn’t just fall on his sword, he fairly leapt on it to protect the mayor. I can just hear the closed door meeting now; “O mighty one…you know I’d take a bullet for you.” I have several much darker images in mind, some involving a leash, collar and the director of administrative services yanking the chain, but they should probably stay in my imagination.

Payroll Patriot
Payroll Patriot
Reply to  MrG8811
5 years ago

How much did that sword cost the taxpayers?

Dowgerhat
Dowgerhat
5 years ago

The mixed use proposition for the PEDA site, which Tyer advocates, translates into retailing anchored by a big box store, with two national chain stores being bantered as interested. Wal-Mart and Lowes.
If it is Wal-Mart, the job creation will occur after the existing store closes and its employees transferred to the new super store. Wal-Mart wants this because of the reduced grocery market covenants it presently has at its Hubbard Rd. location because of the proximity to Price Chopper. The current store will be abandoned and will most likely sit, blighted and empty. Lowes will displace market share from Home Depot and locally owned Carr Hardware.
Either should add to the tax base albeit Wal-Mart has declarations. it uses to reduce its obligations.
Unlike the new high school, Big Box use of the William Stanley Business Park was clearly and publically vetted. In fact the PEDA board held a well announced public input session held in the city council chambers, regarding the desireability of big box store useage of the PEDA site. The vast majority of the citizens that addressed the board were against this type of big box store mixed use. One memorable speaker against this was former city councilor and now Tyer supporter Mike Ward’ whose statement was recorded and is archived.
Tyer advocates the use of a professional developer for the park.The big box proposal was indeed designed by professional developers and withdrawn when the public was overwhelmingly opposed to it. And all along,a back room advocate, a former PEDA board president and local politician, Gary Grunin was furtively meeting with the then mayoral candidate, Dan Bianchi ,acting as an interested middle man, advocating big box useage. He didn’t get his way then, so he now is doing the same with Ms.Tyer.
Mr. Grunin; What is your vested interest in a big box development of the PEDA site ? The public were opposed to it . Why do you keep brokering back room meetings with your political connections ?…..$$$, maybe ?

SOL
SOL
Reply to  Dowgerhat
5 years ago

At this point it’s likely come down to allowing big box stores at PEDA, or watch it sit empty forever. Truly sad.

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Dowgerhat
5 years ago

Sorry to hear Grunin, a major pusher of the civic authority, is still in the area.

But if Petricca does indeed purchase and flatten the mall perhaps some of those stores would relocate to the PEDA site. I am sure the land is free and taxes will be waved for however long they would like them to be. Ruberto may even put up a building for them. I mean Tyer.

Carolyn Barry
Carolyn Barry
Reply to  Dowgerhat
5 years ago

PEDA can’t have food on the site. Would this include a super Walmart too????

Harlan Rinklenutts
Harlan Rinklenutts
5 years ago

Berto also wanted a box on that site, Tyer will oblige.

Gene
Gene
5 years ago

Springside House is an example of how a dysfunctional local political system cripples quality of life. DV is correct when he talks of that “miracle” being needed. And we all know about miracles.

Kathy Lloyd
Kathy Lloyd
Reply to  Gene
5 years ago

The miracle here is that the many volunteers who spend hundreds of hours on the maintenance and care of Springside Park keep redoubling their efforts every time this type of blow comes from the City instead of giving up. They are the miracle.

Irishman
Irishman
5 years ago

This must be a senior moment, but I watched the city council at large forum and read iberkshires report on it. Did Pete White really say that he wants to shift more of the tax burden on to the residents ? I realize small businesses also need a break, but putting a greater tax burden on the residents.WTH.! There are alternative fiscal remedies.
Pete White just lost our vote and seniors will intiate a movement to thwart his election.

Wilson
Wilson
Reply to  Irishman
5 years ago

Doubt the voters are really clamoring not to get complimentary bags at the supermarket either. At the local level you can get a closer look at how government functions: parasites sucking up money and power. The “soak the taxpayers” message will be repeated by every candidate, since the “unions” love it: your senior vote is irrelevant. Bianchi was just demonstrating what a great statesman he is by declaring that free public housing is a civil right, but of course if your retirement income cannot support unlimited tax increases on the house you actually own you will be physically thrown out into the street.

K-Man
K-Man
Reply to  Wilson
5 years ago

Yup Pete White is just like 99.9 percent of all the other ones, a tax-happy rump kisser of the city unions. And Marchetti and all the incumbents, and Rubertyer and..

Yokel Lokel
Yokel Lokel
5 years ago

White said something like…’We need market rate housing for our young professionals’? How about trying to ease the burden on existing elderly who own homes,, Zimmerman? Start there!

Jonathan Melle
Jonathan Melle
5 years ago

Pittsfield politics is always mean and nasty! That is why Pittsfield politics is in a never-ending downward spiral. I was a victim of Nuciforo’s Pittsfield politics when I was a young man living in the Berkshires. When I lived in the Pittsfield area, no one would offer me a job for over one year of my young adult life. I was blacklisted by the Good Old Boys club.
It doesn’t matter whether the lovely Linda Tyer or Mayor Dan Bianchi wins next month’s election because they are both progressive Democrats who will continue to raise taxes, present annual municipal budgets with 5 percent spending increases, and add to the one-half billion dollar municipal liabilities or debts that will never be paid off in our lifetime. Pittsfield politics has a financial system that is unsustainable. Pittsfield’s tax base is shrinking and will get hit very hard with Sabic’s closing and loss of over 500 full time, living wage jobs. Meanwhile, when the financing for the new Taconic High School kicks in, Pittsfield’s municipal taxes will be at an all time, record high.
All there is left in Pittsfield politics is mean-spirited people who are saying nasty things about the lovely Linda Tyer and Dan Bianchi.

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
5 years ago

Listen again tomorrow at 7am… Tammy will be on WTBR with Bill Sturgeon

Guess what
Guess what
Reply to  Corey Ives
5 years ago

Is that the radio station broadcasting from Taconic High?

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
Reply to  Guess what
5 years ago

Yes it is… i believe it 89.7fm. I dont think they have an AM station

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
5 years ago

Irishman, if White did say that then you’re right. I won’t vote for him anyway, I like this Disantis, thinks on his feet and seems to have some clue, hopefully he’ll be smart enough that he doesn’t need to get any good ol boy influence. I’ll add Mel Maz and Marchetti and Nichols.

Mr. X
Mr. X
5 years ago

Top 3 will be Marchetti, Amuso and Cotton…with Mazzeo and DiSantis in a close battle for 4th

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
5 years ago

Where was Church the other night, hope he’s ok.

Kathy Lloyd
Kathy Lloyd
Reply to  Dilly Dally
5 years ago

He wasn’t feeling well according to his wife. Said he’ll be back out campaigning soon. I know a nasty flu is going around…

EddieP
EddieP
5 years ago

If retail moves to the peda site, all you might get are the big boxes.
All of the smaller mall shops will be lost. Also, the Eagle might finally get their new stadium they have been crying about. Plenty of room out there for a lot of things. All you would have to do is unbury the pcb laced buildings that were bulldozed over and give them back to GE to dispose of. I know, what’s he been smokin’.

CosbiesLadies
CosbiesLadies
5 years ago

X who ya got for mayor!?

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
5 years ago

Bianchi was still debating Ruberto and not Tyer…
One thing Bianchi said that bothered me was that he said he only voted against the school originally was to spite Ruberto.
Thats real great of him to base decisions that affect peoples lives to a grudge.
He needs to let go!

Nomad
Nomad
Reply to  Corey Ives
5 years ago

You apparently need to get your ears cleaned out. He didn’t say he voted against the school to spite Ruberto. He said he voted against it because he felt the needs for renovations to Crosby, Conte & Morningside were greater.

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
Reply to  Nomad
5 years ago

It was essentially to fit his wants first… i wish i could believe that was the case but hard to when he addresses that they were needed more so after the fact of mentioning his grudge. Especially when i watch him put his foot in his mouth over and over again.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
5 years ago

there is no clear plan for the City, and honestly, can any one of you tell my why Pittsfield deserves nice things? The community leaders look inept. Property taxes are high, crime is high, educational attainment is pitiful. Employment matching is impossible. The roads are in shambles. North Adams is more attractive to development.

isxree
isxree
5 years ago

Maybe it’s sets a bad practice to hire prisoners to delead a job that could be done…
By paid contractors and thier employees.I’m certain a private company wouldn’t hire a convict and coulnd’t get them OSHA certified because OSHA would say no. Picking up litter on the side of the road is different, that would be accepted. This isn’t cook Hand Luke, kicking a buck because of years of mismanagement and neglect.

dusty
dusty
5 years ago

Does White seem to be part of the Ruberto team? Is he one more guaranteed vote for whatever pork project that may be on the drawing board? The deck is going to be stacked like never before after this election. Smart folk are checking with their real estate people.

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
Reply to  dusty
5 years ago

As a person i like white… hes a good guy but politically hes a people pleaser. He runs neutral not to ruffle any feathers. You can perceive that a few ways

dusty
dusty
Reply to  Corey Ives
5 years ago

If you want to shift taxes to the residential sector you are going to ruffle feathers. Mine anyway.

Why isn’t anyone looking to cut some goddam fat? Why isn’t anyone going after the proliferation of pseudo non-profits? Why does city govt give so many millionaires business’s tax breaks to set up in Pittsfield when they were coming anyway? If the people running for office really cared about the city and its residents they would focus on making the place more user friendly for them instead of tourists and the people who feed off the blue collar types. The Pittsfield political power structure is set up and kept up to feed the haves by cannibalizing their own citizens. This is very hard on senior citizens and makes it very hard for people on the ground floor to elevate their position in life. Kudos to the high school graduates who recognize this and do not return after college.

Corey Ives
Corey Ives
Reply to  dusty
5 years ago

I couldnt agree more dusty.
Thats basically the premise of why my wife is running for council. Not everyone can afford all these tax hikes. We need to sympathize to our own and be their voices.

K-Man
K-Man
Reply to  Corey Ives
5 years ago

An exact description. Great guy but as a pol he wants to please everybody (but the taxpayer).

Nomad
Nomad
Reply to  dusty
5 years ago

I guess I’m one of the smart people.

Mr. X
Mr. X
5 years ago

I’ll probably do a write in vote…that said Tyer will be our 1st 4 year Mayor

SOL
SOL
5 years ago

“DiSantis said combating violent crime starts with education. By focusing on early education and improving the city’s educational system, that leads to jobs and new businesses, which reduces crime.”
If anyone thinks DiSantis is different than the status quo they are mistaken. He’s just another candidate who wants to keep pouring morning into the school system. He won’t be getting my vote.

Spider
Spider
5 years ago

Pete White has always been a middle of the road person. He has to check to see which way the wind is blowing before he can make a decision. Won’t get my vote!

And what’s with Mazzeo? Very few lawn signs and no fundraisers?

Discreet Cat
Discreet Cat
5 years ago

It worked for Arlos and Lee.

Bill Sturgeon
Bill Sturgeon
5 years ago

I agree with Dan Valenti too many of our historical sites have been demolished. My father told me as he walked me down to the Union train station, as it was being demolished, that it was one the biggest mistakes that Pittsfield made in many years. He went to say that would we would regret tearing it for many years to come!
We must work to save the Springside House!