County Courthouse renovations nearing completion

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The county's courthouses are getting a facelift. Improvements to Berkshire County's Superior, District, and Family and Probate Courts in Pittsfield are nearly complete, according to Kevin Flanagan, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management, which is overseeing the projects. The holding cells at both the Superior Court, located at 76 East St., and the District Court, located at 24 Wendell Ave., are being modernized to meet safety and security requirements, Flanagan said. Accessibility improvements for the disabled are being made, including the construction of a ramp at both courthouses. The District Court has a temporary, wooden ramp at this time. Pay phones, rest rooms and water fountains are being made accessible as well, he said. The Probate and Family Court, located at 44 Bank Row, is having exterior masonry work, slate roof and other roof repairs, and the installation of a new skylight and new windows, Flanagan said. The District Court project, which began in June 2001, costs $1.8 million and is expected to be complete by the end of July. The Probate and Family Court project, which began in May 2001, costs $1.3 million and is expected to be complete by the end of this month. The Superior Court project, which began in September 2001, costs $800,000 and is expected to be complete by the end of July, Flanagan said. Funding for the three separate projects is being provided by the Court Facilities Bond Bill, which was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998. The bill provides funding for repairs and renovations of existing courthouses and for the construction of new ones. Project managers, most of whom are based in Boston, tried to minimize work disturbances in the courthouses as much as possible, including scheduling some work at night, Flanagan said. Filomena Puyia, a case specialist whose office is in the District Court, said she did not know of any disturbances or changes in normal court activity during the renovations. Contractors for the projects were determined by a public bid process. R.W. Granger & Sons, Inc., based in Shrewsbury, Mass., won the bids for both the District and Superior Court projects. Contract Ventures, Inc., based in Essex won the bid for the Family and Probate Court project. An architectural firm was also hired to contribute to the projects, Flanagan said. DCAM, which is based in Boston, manages construction for state agencies, overseeing repairs and renovations of existing state buildings and the construction of new state buildings. DCAM is involved with state courthouses, state colleges, and state and county prisons. The agency is also involved with public safety projects. DCAM oversaw the construction of the Berkshire County House of Correction and work at the Berkshire Community College.

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