PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Daniel Bianchi is hoping to keep Berkshire Carousel from making the Berkshire Mall its permanent home.
Carousel organizers said this week that they are working out an agreement with the Lanesborough mall to install the finished carousel there. Bianchi released a statement on Wednesday afternoon urging the group not to shut Pittsfield out.
"We're working very hard to have it at the Berkshire Mall," Berkshire Carousel Executive Director Maria Caccaviello told iBerkshires on Tuesday. "They've just been tremendously supportive of the project."
Caccaviello said the Carousel organization had enjoyed healthy support from the city of Pittsfield as well. "Mayor Bianchi has been 100 percent supportive of the carousel endeavor. He's been delightful to speak to about it."
Organizers had met most recently with Bianchi and Cultural Development Director Megan Whilden on April 10 to discuss the future of the carousel.
"The Berkshire Carousel’s board of directors need to make a hard business decision about where they will install the carousel," Bianchi wrote. "I hope they are considering all of their options, including Pittsfield, where we would love to see them at The Common."
Bianchi said he is meeting with Berkshire Carousel President Jim Shulman on Thursday to pitch the park's "old-fashioned ambiance and high-profile setting." The first phase of a renovation project at the Common was recently completed.
"I plan on telling him all of the reasons why The Common will be the perfect home for the carousel," Bianchi said. "Pittsfield taxpayers cannot compete with the incentives that the Berkshire Mall is offering the organization. The Pyramid Group is a large corporation which sees the value in housing a carousel that will attract thousands of visitors who will have more of an incentive to shop there. This is a good business move on the part of the Berkshire Mall. But I’m not sure that this is what the community envisioned when the Berkshire Carousel first organized.”
The carousel is currently being built at the Berkshire Mall although Pittsfield had been expected to be its permanent home. Organizers now say building the necessary structure in the city is too expensive.
Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol told The Berkshire Eagle that he was "disappointed" that the city did not have a "vision" for the carousel. The mayor said he takes exception that statement.
"Pittsfield not only had a vision for the carousel, the city included it in the master plan for The Common," Bianchi said. "The city has offered them organizational development advice, conferred with them about potential sites, embraced them as part of the city’s 250th celebration, and always said The Common was a viable option."
The $1 million carousel is being built by volunteers and artists with private donations and sponsorships. Organizers expect the carousel to be completed next year and to make a decision on its home by July.
"When you think of a quaint, New England carousel, you think of a park in the heart of a community," Bianchi said. "Take another look at The Common. This is now a beautifully refurbished park, that is already geared toward family and children. There is a fabulous new play area in the park, lots of space for kids to run and play and where families can picnic, and there’s convenient parking right across the street. At this point, the only thing The Common is missing is a carousel."
Updated at 6:52 p.m. to add quote from Caccaviello.
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