Rep reports live on state aid to Pittsfield
Farley-Bouvier takes viewers on a tour of public-private investments
REP. PATRICIA FARLEY-BOUVIER of Pittsfield on Tuesday transformed a fairly dry Zoom call about a government site readiness program into a live, personalized, on-site report about how state investments can help transform a city.
Farley-Bouvier’s standup came at the end of a long call with a number of political dignitaries, including Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Sen. Adam Hinds, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera, all of them talking about how great the program run by MassDevelopment is and speaking from fairly standard indoor locations. Farley-Bouvier, determined not to be that end-of-a-program speaker who usually has people in the audience thinking the quicker the better, decided to step outside the Zoom box.
Standing at the corner of Woodlawn and Tyler Streets in her hometown, with the wind whipping through her hair, Farley-Bouvier first pointed to a steeple in the distance. She said that steeple once belonged to St. Mary’s the Morning Star Church, where she was baptized, and is now, with the aid of state funding, a 29-unit apartment building.
Turning her phone slightly to the left, she pointed out La Fogata, a restaurant located inside a building that used to belong to her grandfather, who ran a grocery there. Farley-Bouvier said she taught English to the current owner, Miguel Gomez, when he came to the United States from Colombia. She highly recommended Gomez’s restaurant, particularly for the tostones and the bistec a caballo.
Just beyond the bridge, Farley-Bouvier pointed to the Berkshire Innovation Center, which opened in 2020 with the help of a $9.7 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. Farley-Bouvier recalled how the final funding fell into place exactly three years ago and the ground-breaking took place six months later.
Finally, she turned to a vast empty piece of land – Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said the parcel “looks like the surface of the moon” and has been sitting unused for more than 20 years – that received an $880,000 grant on Tuesday under the site readiness program to prep it for future development.
Farley-Bouvier said Site 9 is just the latest example of what can happen when all levels of government combine to address a problem. “When we work together as a team – local, state, federal, and private – that’s when we do our best work,” she said. She noted that the area she was showcasing is part of Pittsfield’s transformative development initiative and the beneficiary of millions of dollars of streetscape investments.
Baker, after Farley-Bouvier’s presentation, called it “a tour de force performance.” Hinds also heaped praise on her. “If this state rep thing doesn’t work out, you have a future as a broadcaster,” he said.
In an interview after the event, Farley-Bouvier said she knew she was going to come toward the end of the speaking program when there wasn’t likely to be much new left to say. So she hit on the idea of giving an on-site report, but she was worried about the potential for glitches. She sat in her car listening to the Zoom and keeping her phone charged so it wouldn’t run out of power when it was her turn. “It was either going to be a disaster or it’s going to work,” she said.Rivera, who heads the quasi-public state agency that oversees the site readiness program, said he was impressed at how well Farley-Bouvier’s live presentation worked.
“I’m a little nervous about the Samantha Bee reference,” Farley-Bouvier said.