'We are turning the corner': Pittsfield residents react optimistically to State of the City
That the historic vaudeville house, chosen as the gathering place for Mayor Linda M. Tyer's State of the City address, reopened in 2006 following a $22 million historic renovation.
"This building was part of a dream for a community to better itself," said Kate Maguire artistic director and Chief Operating Officer of Berkshire Theatre Group, which operates the facility.
Tyer, who called the venue "the symbol of Pittsfield's renaissance," spoke about a number of initiatives completed during her first year in office and hinted at future business ideas during her speech, which was open to the public.
"It is so good for her to highlight the wonderful things going on here," said Erin Sullivan, who works at Berkshire Children & Families on West Street. "It reminds us that there is more good than bad."
Mark Brodeur, 36, a nurse at Berkshire Medical Center, said while in his 20s he observed crime, dilapidated buildings and a "lack of prospects." The lifelong resident said he's seen a lot of improvement including during Tyer's first year in office.
"I think we are turning the corner," said Brodeur, a homeowner who has decided to remain here. "She had a lot of work to do and is tackling it."
He said listening to Tyer outline how the city kept Covanta Pittsfield open, helped to secure two solar panel projects, and hired 10 new police officers has sparked an interest in his becoming more involved.
"Where the city goes is important to me," he said.
City Councilor Kevin Morandi also was enlivened by Tyer's speech.
"We have a lot in the pipeline and we need to keep that energy going," said Morandi, who represents Ward 2. He pointed to the Tyler Street Transformation Development Initiative, which will help the city develop a revitalization plan for the neighborhood, as being vital to that momentum.
Morandi has been among the councilors who have said city spending is too high. He's also eager to learn how being an member of Gov. Charlie Baker's Community Compact will impact future budgets and whether the city can consolidate services to save money.
"I'm anxious to see those things and what plan is put forward to see how we are going to deal with it," he said.
Tyer, sworn in Jan. 4, 2016, is the first mayor in city history elected to serve a four-year term.
Dennis Powell, Berkshire County NAACP president, applauded the connections Tyer has made with state officials.
"Anything that changes the dynamic of where we were I am excited about," he said.
During her speech, Tyer highlighted the visits from at least seven state leaders including Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a Republican, and several visits from Marty Jones, president and CEO of MassDevelopment.
Five days into his first term in office, state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, said he looks forward to collaborating with Tyer.
"She laid out a clear agenda, one we can all get behind," he said. Three specific areas she discussed that Hinds said he will work: Local business preservation, workforce development and early childhood education.
Commitments to early childhood education and literacy are among the ways that Marlena Willis said Tyer has used her time well.
"I really feel she has done a lot of short period of time," said Willis, a lifelong city resident and Tyer campaign volunteer.
Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 and @carriesaldo.
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