With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing and weighing down the local economy, the mayor of Berkshire County’s largest community is laying out her 2021 agenda. Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer says her top priority is a return to in-person education in the city’s schools. Tyer spoke with WAMC about the new policies and programs her administration will be rolling out, and when residents can expect to take advantage of her home improvement loan program “At Home In Pittsfield.”
TYER: First and foremost, you know, we still are in the midst of this global pandemic. And so, we'll continue to do our daily analysis, planning and interventions around COVID-19. And you know, at the moment, our top priorities are getting transmission under control, rolling out vaccinations, and number one, the number one thing we want to accomplish here is to get our schools open, so kids can go back to school. We know how important it is for their social emotional well-being and their academic accomplishments to be in school, and that has to be the top priority for this entire community. The other thing that we're going to continue doing this year is what we've been doing all along, which is to continue to support and advanced business development here in the city of Pittsfield. This year, what's new is we will be putting out a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the Arace’s property, which is out on West Housatonic Street. And we will also continue to work on a potential new tenant for our downtown. I can't share too many details with you today, but I'm very excited about this potential new tenant for North Street and the downtown community. We are going to continue to move through the next phase of our municipal broadband project. We've completed our feasibility study, and there are some next steps with you know, assessing whether or not we should go forward with municipal broadband and fiber optics. So that's work that will continue over this year.
WAMC: Turning to turn to new initiatives, are you unveiling any new municipal undertakings in 2021?
So we, we will- So, one of the things that we've been working on all along is neighborhood stabilization and housing initiatives. And, you know, our focus has been on creating more market-rate housing in response to what we hear from our business leaders. This year, we're going to turn our focus to emergency sheltering and supportive housing, right? So our goal always has been to have diverse housing options in the city of Pittsfield. So we're going to turn our attention this year to how do we have improved emergency sheltering and supportive housing here in the city of Pittsfield. So that's sort of ongoing, but also new. As you know, we will be conducting a superintendent search. That's a very important undertaking for 2021. Choosing who will lead our public schools is a significant decision and I'm looking forward to participating in that process. We will also see, we will continue to work with some of our economic development partners on the on improvements that we have for Site Nine at the William Stanley Business Park. So Site Nine is the parcel that was once considered by Walmart. We will be working with our partners on developing a plan and executing improvements at the Site Nine property, that's under way this year. Let's see. We have, as you know, Tyler Street streetscape will be getting underway this year. And I think we have to accept that the Tyler Street fire station is not going to be to be redeveloped and we need to move towards the demolition of that property. We will continue to advance our work on the construction of a new police station so that we can meet the needs of our law enforcement agency. And, let's see. We are going to put emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion inside of the organization. So, I've created a study group and I'm looking forward to their recommendations about how do we as an organization make sure that we are that we are using best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion And let's see, what else do we have going on this year? I think those are some of the highlights.
As far as continuing things, obviously the “At Home In Pittsfield” program finally passed after a long and bruising process. When are we going to see that kicking into effect?
Yeah, thank you for that reminder, that is- Wow, I can't tell you how pleased I am that we're going to finally be able to execute on this. We, so, we are going to, we are in the process now of putting together sort of the programmatic application process. So my goal is to make sure that as soon as construction season begins- so early, you know, early to late spring- that people have this resource available to them to make those home improvements.