I loved my constituents on the south side of Gale Avenue. They were always a wealth of interesting and helpful information. This includes Gale Avenue’s position as a part of the historic route from Pittsfield to Boston (if you take a ruler over Pittsfield, you’ll see that Gale Avenue aligns perfectly with Williams Street – which was also a part of this historic trail), or the south side’s development covenant that had some interesting rules (no to lawn signs, yes to lawn signs?), and with significant amounts of former and current farmland, generations of families that have called Gale Avenue home.
Today, Gale Avenue is the border between Ward 6 and Ward 5. Those on the south side are now in Ward 5, those on the north side are still in Ward 6. This was the result of state-mandated re-districting that is done each decade. The state says that the population of each precinct has to be within a certain percentage differential – essentially the goal is for each precinct to have about the same population. Naturally, over the past decade, the population has shifted around the city.
While I wish the south siders were still part of my jurisdiction, it could have been worse. The original plan put forth by the state would have removed a huge chunk of outer West Street, including Meadow Ridge Drive, Mountainview Drive, streets past Berkshire Community College, portions of Cascade Street at the entrance of the state forest – and more – placing it into a completely transformed Ward 5.
Happily, my colleague Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop and I were successful in working with our city clerk and the state. We educated the state election officials on how Pittsfield is really a city of corridors. If you look at the natural borderlines in the city, it should look a bit like a bicycle wheel with spokes that separate wards and precincts. For Ward 6, West Street is a contiguous corridor with the natural border with Ward 5, generally, being the railroad tracks that run between West Street and West Housatonic Street. The same could be said for Holmes Road in Ward 4 and Elm Street in Ward 3 and now, for Ward 5, West Housatonic Street.