The Commission on Disabilities heard a presentation on making Wild Acres more presentable.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is working on a plan aimed at making the recreational experience at Wild Acres conservation area more fully accessible to all residents.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath told the city's Commission on Disabilities on Thursday that a plan to create a fully accessible trail connecting the new parking lot at the site to the pond that serves as its principal attraction hinges primarily on obtaining funding from the state.
"The city is committed to improving access and making it fully accessible," said McGrath, despite a lack of funds in the city budget for this upgrade.
Toward this goal, McGrath said, the Community Development is staged to apply for a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation though their Recreational Trails program.
The configuration of Wild Acres access has changed following expansion work at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, and the new entrance and parking area are located to the east side of the pond. Funds sought from the DCR would enable a design build to enhance trail access to the pond for those with wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
The Community Development hopes to have a representative from the DCR visit the site within the next few weeks to better understand the project. McGrath suggested that having the Commission on Disabilities play an active role in pursuing these funds would enhance the possibility of being able to move forward with this project over the next year.
"I think our chances of success with this grant hinge on our getting a relationship with the trail coordinator for the state, having them look at the site, and having some folks from the commission on hand to meet the trail coordinator. I think that's going to send a message and go along way toward helping us to get this grant" McGrath told that body.
Application for this grant will be due in February. Some type of matching funds will most likely be required from the city, though McGrath indicated some of this match may be accomplished through in-kind contribution of city resources in labor and equipment.
"I wish I could say we're going to get this done sooner, but I think this is an important project, and one that's not going to be terribly expensive, but at present the city has not identified any resources for this project," said McGrath, added one of the ultimate goals is to construct a fully accessible fishing platform at the edge of the pond.
"Getting folks to what is the real destination at the facility, the pond, so that they can experience fishing, and take part in our fishing derbies, and future activities out there, that's the goal we're working toward," McGrath told the commission.