Friday, March 25, 2005

Topic: Central Berkshire County.

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Blogger jonathan said...

Pittsfield

Wahconah Park future uncertain

By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff

The Berkshire Eagle

Thursday, March 01, 2007

PITTSFIELD — Wahconah Park is an aging facility that is best suited to its current use as a venue for local sports and similar community events, Director of Community Services James McGrath told the City Council.

"The reality is it will never attract a minor league affiliated team," McGrath said, referring to some of the park's past tenants.

The last minor league team affiliated with a major league club to play at Wahconah Park, the New York Penn League's Pittsfield Astros, left the city after the 2001 season.

Frustrated at the lack of progress in obtaining grants to upgrade Wahconah Park since the 3,100-seat ballpark was named to the National Register of Historic Places 19 months ago, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony V. Maffuccio had asked McGrath and the Park Commission to address the council on the park's future.

Eligible for up to $100K

By virtue of its inclusion on the National Register, Wahconah Park is eligible for up to $100,000 in state preservation grant funding. National Register sites are also eligible for federal assistance for historic preservation when that funding is available.

McGrath urged those who question why more progress hasn't been made since Wahconah Park received the national designation to "please, be patient." He said the city was exploring ways of fixing the persistent parking lot flooding problems and of either removing or lowering the Mill Street dam on the west branch of the Housatonic River, which runs beyond the outfield fence.

Removing the dam could cost as much as $2 million, McGrath told the City Council Tuesday night.

"It's not cheap, it won't be easy, and it may take many years to secure the permits and get this project under way," McGrath said.

The city is presently trying to secure National Resource Damage funds available through the GE consent decree.

Pittsfield passed the first round of review for those funds; the second round is in March, McGrath said.

"There is three years of funding available," he added.

He said, however, that the Massachusetts Riverways Program considers moving the dam as a priority and that the city could receive funding from the state Office of Wildlife Safety.

McGrath said plans are also being considered to form a greenway along the west branch of the river between Wahconah Park and Clapp Park on West Housatonic Street.

"Some may see the river as a liability; we need to think of the river as an asset," McGrath said.

Wahconah Park is located within the river's floodplain. But McGrath said the city has permits and design plans developed to address the parking lot's drainage issues that were drafted three years ago by Wahconah Park Inc. before it withdrew its plans to renovate the historic stadium. McGrath said he intends to work with Public Works Director Bruce Collingwood on addressing drainage issues.

The city currently doesn't have the financial resources to address this project.

"Clearly, we're looking at a lot of money here," McGrath said.

'Long-term' assessment

The city is also working on a "long-term facility assessment" to assess the park's infrastructure and will continue to make field improvements, McGrath said.

In answer to a question from Ward 1 Councilor Lewis C. Markham Jr., McGrath said he hasn't spoken with the city's high schools about the possibility of playing night football games at Wahconah Park this fall. He said the park's lighting system has aged, and is expensive to run.

"It is what it is," he said.

Mayor James M. Ruberto said Fire Chief James Sullivan has identified generators available through government surplus, but is trying to determine if they would be applicable to servicing the park's lights.

"It would be very expensive to put a generator out there," McGrath said. "It would be difficult to recover the costs long term."

In answer to question from Ward 3 Councilor Linda M. Tyer, McGrath said any work done on Wahconah Park would only require oversight from the state historical commission if federal or state funds were involved.

Thursday, March 01, 2007 2:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear News Media, Pols, & the People:

The Letter to the Editor of the Eagle, below, makes a great point about how the levels of state aid to cities and towns have been dramatically cut during the three consecutive years of state cuts in local aid in the FY2002-2004 Massachusetts State Budgets! What the author omitted or failed to mention is that while state aid to municipalities was higher (adjusted for inflation and other costs) in the FY01 Massachusetts State Budget than in the FY08 one, the SPECIAL INTEREST tax loopholes and breaks did not skip a beat. Why not? The answer is that Pols like "Bureaucrat" Bosley, "Private Insurance Industry Attorney" Luciforo, et al, receive many thousands of campaign contributions from the corporate elite in return for making the system of taxation more and more regressive and inequitable. Ergo, if Bureaucrat Bosley and his fellow SPECIAL INTERESTS serving hack Legislators on Beacon Hill ever raised the progressive state income tax ease the ever-higher regressive property taxes and other fees, then they would perversely find ways to pass more laws providing even more tax breaks and loopholes to the privileged corporate elite. The net outcome would be the same: The working poor get screwed over once again by the corrupted Pols serving their Corporate Masters: The Corporate Elite!

Once again, SHAME ON YOU: CORRUPTED POLs WHO SERVE THE CORPORATE ELITE at the expense of the WORKING POOR.

All I can say to the People is DISSENT against your CORRUPTED POLs and SUBVERT YOUR CORPORATE MASTERS who are collectively screwing you out of your basic human needs and rights!

I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK MY GOOD CONSCIENCE AS LONG AS I LIVE!

In Truth,

Jonathan A. Melle

------

Target income tax hike for towns

Letters

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

To the Editor of THE EAGLE:

Fiscal reality is becoming clearer as communities across the commonwealth debate and decide their town budgets for the upcoming year. Regardless of the outcome, the local property taxpayer continues to shoulder an ever increasing real estate tax toward supporting schools, town government and various capital outlays and improvements.

During the past decade, the state income tax has decreased from a rate of 5.95 percent of earned income to the current rate of 5.3 percent. This lost revenue at the state level has resulted in a concomitant loss of state aid for our towns and cities. Is it any wonder that our local property tax has ratcheted steadily upward? In Dalton for Fiscal Year 2008, state aid for public education will approximate the amount received in FY '03. Local aid for our town government is expected to be flat for FY 08 relative to FY '07.

The state income tax is a more equitable and progressive tax: the more one earns, the more one pays in taxes. It is estimated that increasing the state income tax by one quarter of one percent to 5.55 percent, would generate additional state revenue of approximately $500 million. If the state income tax were to increase one quarter of one percent, an income of $40,000 would be subject to a tax increase of $100. Reliance upon the property tax places the onus of taxation upon one's wealth or capital irrespective of earned income. For many if not most of us, personal income has been outpaced by the often double-digit appreciation of our homes and property. An aging demographic, particularly in Berkshire County compounds this phenomenon.
Increasing the state income tax will provide relief to the property taxpayer only if such revenues are dedicated to fund the two mainstays of every community: schools and town government. In earmarking this additional revenue, communities will be able to maintain the integrity of their town services via a fairer tax system. The local property taxpayer will be relieved of an often onerous tax increase in meeting the obligation to support schools and town government.

I would ask our governor and state representatives to consider implementing a more equitable tax system. I believe that the citizens of the commonwealth would support a modest increase in the state income tax if such additional revenue were to be returned directly to our communities toward financing our schools and town government.

ANTONIO P. PAGLIARULO

Dalton, May 22, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 4:18:00 PM  

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