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Zachery Feury of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission leads a public forum Thursday evening at First Baptist Church to outline the feasibility study on potential outdoor theaters.
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River Grove Park also scored lower because it is already a developed park.
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The Leu Lot is owned by Mass MoCA and is surrounded by a busy intersection.
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The parking lot parcel accounts for about 530 parking spaces that would be turned into green space.

North Adams Residents Presented With Five Possible Theater Parks

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The lower portion of Colegrove Park scored lower because it isn't very accessible.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city will look at five possible outdoor theater and park locations in the downtown including the parking lot off Main Street.
 
Zachery Feury of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission led a public forum Thursday evening at First Baptist Church to outline a feasibility study that highlighted five possible parks the city could consider developing. 
 
"This looks at identifying potential locations for an outdoor theater park," he said. "It is a public green space that comes with a stage. It is a place for performances and other types of activities."
 
This feasibility study was conducted by the city's Office of Community Development and BRPC. The forum was scheduled to present the findings and to gather public opinion, which will inform the next phase of the study. 
 
This study is funded through the city’s Community Development Block Grant program and the park concept is in line with the Vision 2030 Plan.
 
Feury said the study is not a design study or financial study and only identifies potential sites in a 60-acre downtown area. Both city-owned land and privately owned land was included in the five selected locations; however, no discussions with property owners have taken place. 
 
The five parcels chosen were a portion of the parking lot on the south side of Main Street, the so-called "Leu Lot" on Marshall Street, the American Legion, the River Grove Park off Houghton and River Streets, and Colgrove Park.
 
Feury went over the parameters used to select and rate the chosen parcels and said a survey was conducted to inform their selection and metrics.
 
He said a majority of people wanted a place for performances. Activities such as movies and farmers market came in slightly lower. 
 
At the bottom was sports fields and courts.
 
"I think the reason for this is a number of parks in the city already have these sort of things, so why have more of the same," Feury said.
 
As for size, 50 percent of survey takers wanted to see a park roughly 1.3 acres in size -- about the size of a football field. Thirty-one percent wanted to see a 2-acre park and 19 percent wanted to see a park about half an acre.
 
The survey also accounted for amenities. Top scorers were a stage, trash cans and permanent bathrooms.
 
The lowest-rated amenities were sports courts and boulders.
 
Feury said the chosen parcels were run through a 15-point matrix and were rated on centrality, access, new green space, ownership, vehicle, bike and pedestrian access, size, and ambient noise, among other categories.  
 
"It gives people a gathering space and an enjoyable ... place," he said. "A place where people want to go and spend time. It will help bring people into the downtown, into the commercial district and as they spend more time they will spend more money."
 
Parcels were scored out of 45.
 
The highest scorer was the "Northern Movieplex Parking Lot" off the south side of Main Street, which scored a 37. 
 

This parking lot off Main Street scored the highest but it isn't owned by the city.
"It has very low utilization and it is centrally located on the south side of Main Street," he said. "It is easily accessible and is near the bus station."
 
The outlined section was a 2.03-acre parcel that stretched from Main Street to approximately where Summer Street enters the parking lot. 
 
The selected parcel is bordered by the L-shaped mall and All Saints Episcopal Church.
 
Feury said it accounts for 530 parking spaces but this entire parcel would not be needed. He said they would most likely be looking at half of this parcel. 
 
He added that it would involve a lot of reclamation work but this would make an asphalted area green again, which aligns with the goals of the 2030 master plan.
 
This parking lot is not owned by the city and Feury noted that if this is the chosen parcel, they are still a ways off from broaching acquisition with the owner.
 
"A lot has to happen before we get to the park," he said. "We are very early here and very conceptual."
 
The American Legion plot came in with the next highest score of 28.
 
Feury said the 1.07-acre lot has good accessibility and is close to Western Gateway Heritage State Park and the Holiday Inn. He said the site is not very centralized and would need a lot of site prep with a building sitting on the parcel. 
 
Also, the railroad poses a problem. Trains often idle near the Legion post home would not be conducive to performances. Also, there are safety concerns.  
 
River Grove Park came in with a score of 26 and Feury said the city-owned parcel off Houghton Street is already a developed park. The entire parcel is 2.28 acres and is close to the Porches Inn, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the UNO community center.
 
Feury said the parcel received lower scores because it is in a thickly settled neighborhood and not very centralized. Also, it is already a green space and would not "green up" areas in the downtown affected by urban renewal.
 
The Leu Lot that sits along Marshall Street is a .64-acre parcel that is paved and owned by Mass MoCA. He said it would help connect Mass MoCA to Main Street.
 
Feury said one issue is that the park would be difficult to access because it is surrounded by a busy intersection. He added that with heavy traffic flow, noise would also be an issue.
 
The final parcel was Colegrove Park, which is a city-owned .93 acre parcel near the elementary school. He said this parcel scored a 24 with low proximity and access scores. 
 
"To get to Colgrove Park from Church Street or from Main Street you have to cross some fairly busy somewhat confusing intersections," he said. 
 
He added that there is low vehicle access. He said there is also a sizable hill to maneuver and some of the attendees felt that the school often uses the park and it may be contrary to limit their use.
 

The American Legion lot was the second-highest ranked location.
The dozen or so who attended the meeting had mostly positive feedback and agreed that the "Northern Movieplex Parking Lot" parcel may be the best option.
 
City Councilor Keith Bona noted that none of the options were perfect. 
 
"I don't know if there is one that shouts 'yes' and there are definitely a lot of cons to all of them," he said. "The spaces downtown are pretty limited, but it is what you got to work with." 
 
Councillor Benjamin Lamb agreed and noted that more than 80 percent of the downtown is asphalt.
 
Bona did ask that BRPC consider the parking lot behind Big Y that Mass MoCA acquired for overflow parking.
 
Feury said they could run it through the matrix but it was noted that the area was out of the way and often used. It was felt that Mass MoCA would be unwilling to part with it.
 
He reiterated that they are still very early in this process and said now the city has to explore these different options before approaching property owners.
 
He added that even though some of the parcels scored lower it does not mean they are not viable. 

Tags: feasibility study,   public parks,   

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North Adams Happenings: Aug. 21-27

SAVE THE DATE
AUGUST 29th - DownStreet Art
DownStreet Art, the last-Thursday-of-the-month popup program of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (MCLA BCRC), returns to downtown North Adams from 5-8 p.m. on August 29, 2019. As always, DownStreet Art is free and open to the public.
More information.

AUGUST 30th - Starry Night Movies at UNO Park Presents: Hidden Figures
On August 30th, we are showing Hidden Figures. The story of "three brilliant African-American women at NASA who serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world" (Google).
The festivities start at 6pm. More information on activities and games coming soon. Movie will begin at 8:00pm. Bring pillows, blankets, and low back chairs to take in this incredible untold story under a starry night on the UNO Park lawn.
More information.
 
Wednesday 8/21
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Terrific Tots Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  

10:30 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Preschool Story Time North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information. 


11:30 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Little Wonders Baby Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information. 

5:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, Simple Zero-Waste Swaps for the Bathroom: A Zero-Waste Workshop UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

6:30 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Concerts at WIndsor Lake Presents JP Murphy 200 Windsor Lake Drive, (413)664-6180 More information.

8:00 P.M. (FREE), GAMES, Trivia Night! Ramunto's, 67 Main Street, (413) 398-5152 More information.

Thursday 8/22
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), TUTORING, After School Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

5:30 P.M. (FREE), KIDS, North Adams Public Library Trip North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), BIKING, Downtown Bike Around Anthony's Municipal Parking Lot More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Party in the Park Presents The Brave Brothers Noel Field, 310 State Street More information.

7:30 P.M. (FREE), BINGO, Musical Bingo at Mingo's Sports Bar and Grill 41 Roberts Drive More information.

8:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, The Chalet: Eavesdrop The Chalet at Courtyard D, MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.
Friday 8/23
7:30 A.M. (FREE), MEET AND GREET, Coffee Date at the NAMAzing Eagle Street Parklet NAMAzing Eagle Street Parklet More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Drop-In Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

11:00 A.M. (FREE, PARKING $5), KIDS, Kidleidoscope New England's Natural Bridge, 1 McCauley Road More information.

12:00 P.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

7:00 P.M. (By Donation), CRAFTING, Knitting Nights with Common Folk Common Folk, 73 Main Street More information.

7:00 P.M. ($1 and up), GAMES, BINGO! North Adams Elks 487 Lodge, 100 Eagle Street, (413) 664-9039 More information.

8:00 P.M. (FREE), MOVIE, Movies Under the Stars at Colegrove Park Presents: The Goonies Colegrove Park Elementary, 24 Church Street, (413) 664-6180 More information.

8:00 P.M. ($18 - $44), MUSIC, Roomful of Teeth MASS MoCA, 1040 Mass Moca Way More information.

9:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Karaoke Friday! State Street Tavern, 167 State Street, (413) 664-9152 More information.
Saturday 8/24
9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (FREE), MARKET, North Adams Farmers Market The Wigwam Western Summit, 2350 Mohawk Trail More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE, PARKING $5), TOUR, Natural Bridge History Tour New England's Natural Bridge, 1 McCauley Road More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), GARDENING, Gardening Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Motorama Cruise-in Concert Presents Whiskey City & Live Wire Noel Field Athletic Complex, 310 State Street, (413) 664-6180 More information

8:00 P.M. ($20 - $30), CONCERT, Cha Wa MASS MoCA, 1040 Mass Moca Way More information.
Sunday 8/25
9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. (FREE TO SPECTATORS, CAR REG. $15), STREET FAIR, 9th Annual Motorama Car Show Downtown North Adams, (413) 664-6180 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE, PARKING $5), TOUR, Natural Bridge History Tour New England's Natural Bridge, 1 McCauley Road More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Racks and Stacks- Barbecue and Vinyl Music A-ok Berkshire Barbeque, 2601 MASS MoCA Way, (413) 398-5079 More information.
Monday 8/26
1:00 P.M. (FREE), KIDS, Crafternoons! North Adams Public Library, 74 Church Street, (413) 662-3133 More information.
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