The second phase of reconstruction on the First Street Common is well under way.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An upgrade to the First Street Common is in the second of four envisioned phases.
D R Billings Inc., of Lanesborough, has been excavating a large portion of the park since July, regrading, adding drainage and electrical infrastructure and building new walking paths.
A large amount of fill is being trucked in to make the entire park the same grade so there is no longer two distinct elevations.
That phase is expected to be completed in November and the city's Department of Community Development hopes to continue the work with two subsequent phases in the next two years.
"The project is moving along swiftly," said James McGrath, the city's Parks and Recreation director, on Thursday. "We're right on schedule and there has been no issues with construction. We are fortunate to be working with D R Billings on this project."
The second phase is being paid for by a $400,000 grant from the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The city is contributing $500,000, some of which will be allocated to the next phase if another grant is awarded.
"We're hopeful that the state sees value, that this project is worthwhile," McGrath said.
The city has already applied for the next $400,000 grant and is confident it will be received for the next phase. The third phase could include relocating the basketball courts, building a gazebo and extending the pathways on the northwest end. A fourth phase would focus on the southern end and create a performance pavilion and a plaza with gardens.
"[Phase 2] really sets the foundation for subsequent phases," McGrath said, adding that even if the city is not awarded grants for the rest "it won't appear that something is unfinished."
The city already performed a major upgrade on the playground area on the northeastern part of the park. That $1.7 million phase was funded through the state's Gateway Cities program. Richard Sullivan, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, celebrated the opening of that phase last May.
In total, the park is eyed for $4.6 million in upgrades. McGrath said each grant starts with engineering and design during the winter and construction in the following summer. The entire project, pending grants, would be completed by fall 2015.
Meanwhile, McGrath is reminding residents that the park is still open for use.
"The playground remains open and there is access on the north still open. We hope people come out and use it," he said.