James McGrath fills in the Parks Commission on upcoming events and the status of the Common.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The multiyear, multimillion dollar overhaul of the Common is slated to be completed by Christmas of this year.
Parks, Open Space & Natural Resources Manager James McGrath told the city's Parks Commission on Tuesday that despite the recent passing of one of its principal architects, remaining details of the design are nearly finalized and construction is expected to begin in mid-May.
"This is where the rubber meets the road," said McGrath. "This is the final stretch of the plain, where we're starting to look at colors for the bathroom buildings and for the roofs, and styles for benches and things of that nature.
The project is now at the 75 percent design phase, and expected to be at 100 percent design by next week. The project will then go out to bid in April to allow for work to start the following month.
The final two phases of the project to be undertaken were originally anticipated to be spread out into 2015, but planning was accelerated by the announcement this fall that the Gov. Deval Patrick would allocate the remaining $1.7 million needed for the phases this year.
"The timing that we've committed to is to have this project completed before Governor Patrick leaves office," McGrath explained.
The final phases will include installation of more lighting, bathroom facilities, a gathering gazebo and a larger performance pavilion, a sprinkler spray ground, and a full-sized 94x50 basketball court. This will conclude an overhaul begun in 2011, totaling $4.6 million in state grants and matching city funds.
"It's a big job, there'll be a lot of work happening in a short time period and all these expectations will be laid out in the bid application," McGrath assured the commissioners.
In the meantime, the city will hold an official ribbon cutting for the re-vamped Wild Acres conservation area Friday, April 25, as part of its annual Arbor Day event.
"Wild Acres is completely redone, it looks a lot different than it has in the past," said McGrath.
The configuration of the conservation park has changed dramatically following upgrades at the adjacent Pittsfield Municipal Airport, for which the city took 21 acres to expand the airfield area and replaced it with a comparable acreage of private land taken by eminent domain. The new entrance and parking area are now located to the east side of the pond, off of South Mountain Road.
The Arbor Day gathering and ribbon cutting on April 25 at noon will be followed the next day (Saturday, April 26) with the second annual Youth Fishing Derby beginning at 9:30 a.m. and sponsored by the Pittsfield Conservation and Lyon Aviation.
The Parks Commission also approved permits on Tuesday for more park events throughout the upcoming spring. Berkshire Volleyball activities will resume at Marchisio Park on Tuesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. from May 6 to Sept. 30. At Springside Park, the Friends of Springside will hold its 25th annual Earth Day park cleanup day from 9:30 to 4, and the Berkshire Conservation District is holding its annual plant sale on May 10, to coincide with of the Springside Greenhouse Group, all that weekend.
At Park Square, the Chapter 65 Vietnam Veterans will hold a memorial service for local soldiers fallen in that war on March 29 at 10 a.m., and the Elizabeth Freeman Center will again hold a stand out to raise awareness about sexual assault there from 3 to 5 p.m. on April 10.