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Engineer Robert Fournier represented both projects at the Community Development Board meeting Tuesday night.

Pittsfield Board Concerned Proposed Assisted Living Expansion; Praises St. Mary's Plans

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Side by Side is looking to expand its assisted-living facility to the east by knocking down a neighboring four-family dwelling on West Union Street.
The Community Development Board is concerned that there will be an additional 20 living units with only six parking spaces. The board fears that there are too few parking spots available for that size of a project.
"We want to make sure there is sufficient parking that these cars are not on the street or causing an obstruction," Community Development Board Chairwoman Sheila Irvin said.
Engineer Robert Fournier, with SK Design Group, however, said the company already owns a number of adjacent parcels with parking. And the company's experience running those facilities is that very few residents own vehicles.
"Two out of the 37 residents own vehicles," Fournier said.
The West Union Street building is planned to be demolished and a new 4,800 square-foot building constructed in its place. It is eyed to be a 2 1/2-story building with the basement level having offices, a dining room, and utility room. The second floor would host a dining room and 10 housing units and the top floor would be the other 10 units.
Such a development would call for 24 parking spaces be available. But Fournier says there is parking in the other areas that are currently going unused. There are currently 24 spaces available, and six will be added, but there are only a total of 18 staff members -- half part time, half full time -- and two residents with cars. 
"This is all going to become one campus, all connected with sidewalks," Fournier said.
He added, "there is no sense of overbuilding parking when it is just going to sit there" and that any visitors would only be a few hours a week and could park on the street like in other urban areas if needed.
But Community Development Board member David Hathaway is concerned that in the future there could be problems. He'd like to have a contingency plan in place should the demand for parking change.
Hathaway ultimately suggested the board approve it, but only on the condition that the parking gets reviewed in one year and if there are any issues, the company is required to fix it.
"That would be one way to help move it along while still giving it some oversight review," he said. "If it works, we're all happy. If not, then they have to figure out what to do."
The board felt that an easier way would be to have the developer return with more information about contingency plans.
City Planner CJ Hoss said there could be other options such as allowing the special permit to only be valid as long as the company owns continuous lots. But he'd rather sort out those details in communication with Side by Side.
The board will take it up again at its next meeting.
In other business, the board easily approved the plans for the former St. Mary the Morningstar campus on Tyler Street. Developer David Carver purchased the historic church and surrounding buildings, which came as a relief to many after it had nearly been razed to make way for a Dunkin' Donuts.
The city chipped in with incentives to help develop the property into 29 housing units. Carver said the exterior of the buildings won't change much as most of the work will be interior. The changes to the exterior include demolishing a wing on the former convent, changing the entrance of the school building to be handicapped accessible, razing a garage, installing new windows and landscaping.
"The one real exterior change is the reconfiguration of the entrance to the former school building and that is an accessibility issue," Hoss said.
Fournier said there will be 55 parking spaces and there will be additional 16-foot tall lights for the lots. 
"We're pretty much reusing all of the utilities that are currently in place with the exception of a new sprinkler line," he said, outlining a new line that connects to all of the building.
A new transformer will be installed and all of the utility lines will be underground. The pavement will all be replaced and additional sidewalks at the campus will be added.
"We think the front of the property is a little bare. We asked for six trees across the front," added Carver, suggesting some small trees be planted in front of the convent and larger ones by the church.
Architect Robert Harrison added that the developers are working with the city's Department of Cultural Development to include an art piece to it. Hoss said that is part of the city signing a compact with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to have arts be considered as part of large development projects.
Harrison hopes to find a project that will enhance the property while simultaneously getting local artists involved.
The project has been well heralded and the Community Development Board joined that chorus with having no objections to the plans. 

Tags: assisted living,   church reuse,   community development,   housing development,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Aug. 23-29

This weekend is your last chance to see the 2019 Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing. Performances are held on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. on the First Street Common. Featuring the witty on-again, off-again lovers Beatrice and Benedick, Much Ado is the story of the trials of love in a society dominated by patriarchal traditions. Beatrice's cousin Hero and the soldier Claudio meet and fall in love, but when a man spreads nasty rumors about her, Hero's voice is silenced and their relationship torn apart. Loyalties are tested as the community responds, including a ragtag group of officers who just might save the day. FREE, donations suggested.
The Shaker Barn Music Series presents singer-songwriter Nellie McKay. The deep, and deeply funny, McKay has paid tribute to the disparate likes of Doris Day, transgender jazz pianist Billy Tipton, environmentalist Rachel Carson and comedian Joan Rivers. Wallace Field opens. 7:30 p.m.
FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow | FRI Karaoke Night at Friends | FRI Dan Gingras at Proprietor's Lodge | FRI Todd McLeod at Rusty Anchor | FRI Mr. Doubtfire at Mission | FRI-SAT Wine, Cheese & Trees at Bousquet | SAT Latin Night at The A | SAT Pete Boyd at Proprietor's Lodge | SAT The Damaged & More at Crossroads | SAT Acoustic Gravel & Jessica Wilson at Rusty Anchor | SUN-MON Karen Mason at Barrington Stage | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Entrepreneurial Meet-up at Thistle & Mirth | WED Melissa Massery at Methuselah | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU The Picky B's at Mission | THU Jessica Wilson at Proprietor's Lodge

Children ages 6 and older are invited to learn to paint a sparkly unicorn on a 16x20 canvas at Berkshire Paint & Sip. All painting materials, instruction, light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the $25 fee. 1-3 p.m. at 305 North Street.
FRI FREE Fun Friday at Berkshire Museum FRI WeeMuse: Adventures at Berkshire Museum FRI Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children & Families) SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum SAT Kitchen Ka-Boom! at Berkshire Museum SAT Back to School Event at Berkshire Dream Center SAT Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum SAT Robbins Zust Marionette Show at Dottie's SAT da Vinci After Hours at Berkshire Museum SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum | MON Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum TUE WeeMuse: Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum WED Gallery Scavenger Hunts at Berkshire Museum THU Farm Friends at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Exploring Our World at Berkshire Museum THU Designing with da Vinci at Berkshire Museum 
SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Massage at Radiance
Indulge in the ultimate self-care experience, combining restorative yoga with CBD massage, at Radiance Yoga. Shannon will lead you through comfortable yoga postures and licensed massage therapists will guide you deeper into relaxation with massage using Vermont Farmacy's Herbal CBD Salve. 6 p.m.
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit | SAT Sunrise Yoga on the Deck at Rusty Anchor | SUN Goat Yoga at Hancock Shaker Village SUN Yoga Class at Tyler Street Lab MON Zumba Class at Tyler Street Lab THU Outdoor Yoga at Onota Lake
SAT+ George Gershwin Alone at The Colonial
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