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Wahconah Park Committee Recommends $30M Design

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

The committee is recommending the pricier $30 million option as providing more square footage and alleviating flooding issues. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Wahconah Park Restoration Committee has endorsed a $30 million overhaul of the historic ballpark that is three times the original expectation.

On Thursday, the panel unanimously voted to recommend an elevated option that raises all program spaces above the floodplain and has a fully accessible lower and upper concourse.  

The 40,000 square foot design is valued at $30.2 million. One year ago when the process began, the overhaul was expected to cost $10 to $15 million. 

"The pricing is high," principal architect Salvatore Canciello said before revealing the cost estimates. "A little higher than we anticipated." 

Now comes the question of whether Mayor Linda Tyer and the City Council will support the proposal. Based on a survey conducted this month, there is a high level of interest in the project and support voiced for the elevated option, which committee members OK'd with little debate. 

The renovation option, which retains the existing roof and rebuilds much of the existing program in a similar location, would cost about $25 million for 25,000 square feet. It was pointed out that the chosen option provides almost twice the square footage for $5 million more. 

Canciello explained that there were significant costs associated with remediating lead paint in the renovated option, which contributed to the price tag but aimed to keep some historical elements. 

There is a potential for a cost savings of about $1 million if a waiver can be obtained to reduce the required number of bathrooms by 50 percent. All designs also have to go through the state historical commission. 

The design process has seen some delays this summer. Chair Earl Persip III advised the panel to make a recommendation to get the ball rolling. A report will be send to the administration including a feasibility study prepared by S3 Design that provides an explanation of the need and design. 

"I think we're where we need to be," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said. 

There has not been a comprehensive conversation with the administration and city finance director about possible funding pathways but McGrath pointed out that there are very grants that can be investigated as well as new market tax dollars. 

There is $3 million earmarked for the project as part of a $1.7 billion federal omnibus spending bill that passed late last year. 

A survey that launched on Sept. 12 has since garnered more than 500 responses. It includes eight multiple choice questions and one open-ended question, which received nearly 190 long-form responses. 

"We have never has such great response," McGrath said. 

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