Pittsfield To Begin Study Of Springside House

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The city is putting $30,000 toward a study of Springside House to set the stage for a future restoration.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will have a plan for reuse of the Springside House by next June.

The City Council accepted a $30,000 grant on Tuesday from the state Historical Commission and will provide an equal match for a study of the building.

After being approved by the Finance Committee, the city accepted the grant and in six to eight weeks will hire an engineering firm to examine the house.

"We'll get into an evaluation of the house from top to bottom, a structural analysis of all of the systems, the foundation, the roof, the walls, everything about the house," said the city's Open Space Manager James McGrath. "We are going to find out where we're at with this building and what the challenges are."

The city will hold public hearings throughout the process. Once the study is completed, city officials will determine the course of rehabilitating the house.

"We're going to stick with this. We are in it for the long haul," McGrath said.

The grant only evaluates the condition of the building but Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop called it a "critical" step toward doing something with the building. The city will likely have to spend more money in the future for any renovations.

"You have to have a roadmap to get bigger grants," he said. "This will give us that roadmap."

McGrath said a selection committee will be formed to choose the firm for the study and will be focused on getting value for the $60,000 which will be spent.

Ward 1 Councilor Christine Yon said she is constantly asked about the building from people who want to save it. Those in the area have been "building momentum" for years toward restoring the building, she said.

"We really need to find a good use for it and restore it," Yon said.

The building is the main structure on the 275-acre Springside Park and is on the state's historical register. It was a private mansion until being gifted to the city and from 1940 until 2007 was the parks and recreation headquarters. Now a Friends of Springside Park group has been pushing for rehabilitation.

"I'm thrilled that they accepted the grant," Friends of Springside Park interim President Joe Durwin* said.

In other business, the council appointed John Jackson as a Fire Department captain and David Hathaway and Carolyn Valli to the Community Development Board.

The council also accepted the warrant for the municipal election, sent a petition from the Community Development Board to expand the downtown arts overlay district back to the board for public hearings and approved hiring a crime analyst for the Police Department.

*Durwin is a Pittsfield correspondent for iBerkshires.com.

Tags: engineering,   historical building,   parks & rec,   Springside Park,   

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Regional Planning Commission Tackling County Housing Issue

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is taking steps to address the ever-growing problem of housing that Berkshire County faces.

"What we have been hearing and learning is that housing is becoming increasingly a problem in Berkshire County," Executive Director Tom Matuszko said at Thursday's commission meeting. "And a problem for a number of different ways and a number of different venues."

BRPC has partnered with countywide economic development organization 1Berkshire to develop a regional housing strategy, a policy that will set the stage for solutions and legislative support. The commission's former director, Nathaniel Karns has agreed to take this project on and help shepherd it through the process.

Matuszko explained that a group of planners and other housing-related entities has been formed to develop the regional strategy. This group will dive into the issue of housing in Berkshire County and brainstorm solutions whether it be a legislative fix, additional funding, or another programmatic element from the state government.

This initiative is not just about affordable or subsidized housing, Matuszko said, because you have to have higher-end housing for those in the applicable income bracket to move into, which then frees up more affordable housing for another group.

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