When you’re a Berkshire County legislator or municipal leader, Boston becomes a second home.
Unless instructed otherwise, local state representatives are planning to drive to the city to begin what they call "budget week" next week, and will be likely spending several nights. Though lawmakers are used to making this trip down the MassPike, this drive will be different.
"It’ll be surreal," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.
Monday will mark a week since the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon at the heart of the city.
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said because this past week has been a public school vacation week, it has been quiet at the Statehouse, and the legislative process has been minimally affected.
"Legislature traditionally does not schedule formal sessions during the April vacation week, but over the next week, we’ll be there working 12- to 14-hour days. During that week, I stay out there," said Farley-Bouvier, a Pittsfield Democrat.
Both she and Pignatelli said they are confident in Statehouse security.
"If there were safety concerns, we would be notified. I’m not worried about my safety," Farley-Bouvier said.
Pignatelli said if anything, he expects heightened security: "Usually when we go in, you just flash your state ID badge and say hello. On Monday, we’ll probably go earlier. I expect there may be some road closures still, and there might be more metal detectors and scanners, and that’s OK."
He said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City tightened security across the nation, particularly in big cities and places of high volume, like airports.
"They were big cities. But Newtown, Conn., changed the attitudes," said Pignatelli, referring to the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at a small town elementary school. "So you know what, we’re not that far away from it anymore, even in the quaint little Berkshires."
Former state representative Daniel Bosley of North Adams spent 24 years serving the Legislature and commuting to Boston. He told The Eagle on Friday morning that he’s still in disbelief about what took place.
"I’ve spent most of the night watching what’s been going on. The Boston Marathon is such an iconic thing for Boston. If you’re going to attack something, why would you attack something that’s multinational that brings people together?" said Bosley, who also has a daughter who lives just north of Boston in Somerville.
Bosley said city officials have a massive social and tactical task ahead bringing Boston to a more balanced state of order.
"It’s been tough. For example, Boston lives on its mass transit system. At some times during all this, not only the subway was suspended but also the taxis," he said.
Bosley and another longtime public official, John Barrett III, credited Boston and state and regional officials for keeping things as orderly and well-communicated to the public.
A North Adams city councilor, Barrett served as the mayor of North Adams for 26 consecutive years and is a former head of the Massachusetts Mayors Association.
"Let me tell you something, they’re doing one marvelous job, and they’re doing everything right in keeping the public and media fully informed while erring on the side of caution," Barrett said. "There’s cooperation, which is key to all this. Their response and all the coordination is textbook."
Barrett said delivering accurate public information is critical during a time of crisis.
"If they give out any type of misinformation, everything could fall out of place," he said
"There hasn’t been a press conference yet where there hasn’t been a representative from each agency involved present. They’re all together as one voice," he said.
Boston’s response and process will be analyzed and looked as a model of what and what not to do during an emergency in other municipalities, Barrett said.
"From our end, it makes you focus again on security and the question of are we properly trained should this city, this region, have an event [like in Boston]?" said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.
He said though he’s confident that his city is in a good position to respond, there is always room to revisit plans and protocols.
For example, though there are no municipal surveillance cameras in public areas, there are plenty of commercial buildings and businesses with monitoring devices in the city, such as those which proved helpful in the investigation of the Boston bombings.
Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi said that he "fully anticipates" that state officials will be "suggesting to us that we make sure our emergency management protocols are reviewed on a periodic basis, which we are doing. We should all be mindful that anything can happen at anytime."
Both mayors said that while police continue their patrols, residents can also have a role in being aware of what activities take place in their neighborhoods.
Whatever they will be, changes are inevitable.
"You’ll never get it back to normal," Barrett said. "Even after 9/11, society and how we did business was never the same. From the little things like trash removal and mailbox delivery to how we deal with sporting events, airport security, there will be a new way of life we’ll all have to adapt to. But I think after this is done, we’ll all feel safer."