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Children splash at the spray park at the Pittsfield Common on Thursday. The city of North Adams is applying for a grant to install a similar park.
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Plans for Noel Field show the new skate park and spray pad in the middle.

North Adams Seeking Grant to Add Spray Park to Noel Field

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Work is expected to began soon on the new skate and BMX bicycle park where the former Modern Liquors was located.

The State Street building was razed last week to make way for the $676,000 skate park, which will in turn open up space at Noel Field Athletic Complex for a proposed splash pad and bocce and pickle ball courts.

"As soon as that is down and out I believe work on that skate project should begin relatively soon," Mayor Richard Alcombright told the City Council last week. "We have to spend the money by June 30 next year."

The skate park has been under consideration for some years and was initially sparked by a group of young people working with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The proposal was integrated into the city's new master plan and Community Development Block Grant money was used to develop designs for the facility.

The splash park, and an expansion of the basketball courts, is dependent on the city being awarded another state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant. The city was awarded one last year for the skate park and used CDBG funds in the latest round as the local match.

"One thing we didn't know then that we know now was the uncertainty of the Modern Liquors building," Michael Nuvallie of the Community Development Office said. "At the time it was for sale and had been empty 10 years."

Porches Inn owner John W. "Jack" Wadsworth purchased the building for $140,000 last fall and donated it to the city. CDBG funds were used to demolish it.

"That changed the entire flavor and game strategy to what we want to do now," Nuvallie said. "That allows us to shift the skate park a little bit south and stay off of the existing parking lot, which is in excellent condition and therefore allows parking better suited for the venues ... that acquisition was a total win."

Mayor Richard Alcombright said the concept designed by Julie Sniezek of Guntlow & Associates was like a "park within a park."

"It's a place where someone can go with kids but everyone is still in sight," he said. "I think it makes it much more user friendly."

The splash park would be located near the current playground and walking trail with shade trees planted around the area. Placeholder spots for bocce and pickle ball courts, which would be built if there's enough grant money, are between the splash pad and the skate park. The skate park will be built in an L-shape facing into the park.

"We're trying to be as creative as possible in this next phase ... the max [PARC] grant is $400,000, what we got last year," Nuvallie said. He estimated the match from CDBG at $175,000, less than this year.

"Given a sucessfull phase one grant award and the investment that we see here, and knowing that spray parks are cool and nifty things that the state likes to see done, across the commonwealth we feel pretty good," he said.

This next phase also includes removing the tennis courts because they are not well used since Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts put new ones in at its complex on West Shaft Road.

The basketball courts, on the other hand, are heavily used and will be expanded to accommodate that use.

Efforts will be made to save part of the existing storage building at the site, particularly because it has plumbing and electricity and may be able to be renovated into public restrooms at some point.

City Councilor Keith Bona liked having a place to play bocce because it connected to the city's Italian heritage. City Councilor Nancy Bullett said she'd played pickleball — a combination of racquetball and table tennis — and that it was fun game for all ages.

"This is something our kids can do but also visitors to the city," said City Councilor Lisa Blackmer.

The council approved the grant application unanimously. Nuvallie said the city should know by November if it was accepted.

Tags: CDBG,   Noel Field,   skate park,   state grant,   

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