Pittsfield Parks Commission Questions Lack of Capital Funds

By Joe DurwinPittsfield Correspondent
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The chair of the Parks Commission questioned the need for an allocation from the city's nearly depleted "Bossidy Bucks" account for capital projects by the Department of Buildings & Maintenance.
Only around $64,000 remain to the Bossidy Bucks, a $1 million gift to the city from Larry Bossidy in 2001 to support improvement of athletic fields in Pittsfield.  
Though the department has not yet put forth an official request specifying the amount sought, Dr. John Hermann voiced concerns about how the city is funding necessary park expenditures.
"We're still awaiting some quotes," said department head Peter Sondrini at Tuesday night's meeting. "We want to get everything together, so we can spell out everything that we'd like to get done."
"Where's the city on this?" asked Hermann.  
"Unfortunately, this year the capital budget has been tabled for the time being," Sondrini responded, referring to the budgetary stalemate between Mayor Daniel Bianchi and city councilors earlier this summer. "We lost quite a bit of things off of that."
"There's just certain things in the parks that we're looking to get done," Sondrini told the commission.
"I'm taken back by the mayor coming on the radio talking about how great things are going in the parks and blah blah blah," Hermann said  "Yet the wallet strings seem to be closed. You can't have it wonderful all the time unless you give some money, it's that simple."
"There's things that have been neglected for years," said Sondrini.  "We've compiled a list, and we're checking off the list and looking at prices."
Hermann nonetheless expressed receptivity to funding from the waning Bossidy account, which the commission controls. 
"If we can't help you totally, we'll do what we can," Hermann told Sondrini.
Dwindling Bossidy funds have been a recurring point of discussion for the commission, and multiple requests from the fund in 2012 lead Park commissioners to call for city government to "come up with a plan" for upkeep in the future. 
In other business, the commission also ratified revisions to Park Rules and Regulations to reflect its endorsement of the Board of Health's recent ban on tobacco smoking in public parks.  
"The Board of Health passed the regulation, I think it's important that this commission also endorse the tobacco use ban within the city parks and playgrounds," Parks, Open Spaces and Natural Resources Manager James McGrath told the commission.
As part of the new policy, the Department of Community Development is working with Department of Health on the purchase of 60 new signs to be installed around the 34 city-owned parks, playgrounds and conservation areas. The Health department will pay most of the cost of the signs, bought from an outside vendor due to backlog within the city's own production, with the remainder coming from a small Park Donation account.
McGrath said the new signage should be installed by Sept. 15.

Tags: capital projects,   parks commission,   public parks,   smoking ban,   

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