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The building hasn't been used as a fire station since 1970.
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The building is deteriorating but its structure is considered to be good.
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BCF is seeking more space for its Kids 4 Harmony program and other projects.

Nonprofit Eyes Historic Pittsfield Fire Station For Neighborhood Center

By Joe DurwiniBerkshires Staff
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Representatives from Berkshire Children & Families toured the Tyler Street firehouse on Monday to consider its suitability as a community center.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Children & Families is exploring possibilities for reuse of a mothballed city building as a kind of community center in the Morningside neighborhood.
 
"We want to make a commitment to families and the neighborhood," said BCF President Carolyn Burns, who said the rapid growth of its Kids 4 Harmony program, currently based out of the nearby Morningside Community School, has prompted the organization to look at a broader vision for the future of this and other programs.
 
BCF and members of the Morningside Neighborhood Initiative took a tour on Monday of the former Tyler Street fire station, assessing the toll from years of vacancy and lack of maintenance and discussing options for purchase and rehabilitation of the structure.
 
The 1906 building, which has not been used as a fire station since 1970, had been utilized over the intervening years for storage and been the site of legendary haunted house tours in the Halloween season, but has decayed significantly since it was permanently closed in 2008. While structurally sound, the building suffers from an ailing roof, water leaks and other issues.
 
In 2013, the city issued a request for proposals to take the challenged building off its hands, and a second one later that year after the first failed to produce any viable offers. Under the terms of the RFP, a potential buyer would need to purchase the building "as is" and set about rehabilitating it in a timely manner. Some in the community, including Tyler Street Business Group leader Diane Marcella, have suggested that the city should seek public funds to remediate some of the issues to make a purchase more palatable.
 
"You're getting to the point with that building where it's become a hazard, or at least a blight," Marcella said at a recent public meeting. "If we can't get the RFP going, we're either going to have to decide to level it, or do something to make it so that somebody could take it over."
 
The city has also made stipulations that a prospective buyer maintaining certain original architectural elements of the building's exterior.
 
"Especially the facade," said city Permitting Coordinator Nathan Joyner. "Trying to retain that historic character is really part of the intention of the city."
 
Now, Berkshire Children & Families is in talks with the city and other neighborhood stakeholders about their concepts for reuse as kind of multi-use community center. Burns said the Kids 4 Harmony program, which since 2011 has grown to include 55 students, is quickly outgrowing its home at the neighborhood elementary school, an issue that has also highlighted a lack of community space in the city's most densely populated section.
 
"What I became aware of is that the Morningside, there are not any gathering places," Burns told iBerkshires. "Aside from the school, there is no place for people to come together and grow community."
 
"The symbolism of a fire station represents something about safety, and well-being for a neighborhood," added Burns. "I thought if we could create a really out-of-the box community center, a 21st century community center that would be focused on learning, opportunity, music and art. ... and then embed other programs in it that would be of interest to the neighborhood."
 
Burns said there are two facets to the process going forward. The first is assessing the costs and feasibility of rehabilitating the building, and secondly to work with the community to plan the types of desired programs to design accordingly.
 
"We're trying to start with the biggest dream possible, because it's always best to start with a very broad vision," said Burns. "There's endless possibilities if we can make it work with this building."

Tags: community center,   fire station,   historical building,   municipal property,   nonprofits,   youth programs,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: July 10-16

 

Welcome to Cultural Pittsfield's weekly guide featuring in-person and virtual classes and events, information, and more. If you are a Pittsfield business and would like your event listed, please email us at cultural@pittsfieldch.com. Thank you and be well!
TONIGHT - Thursday, July 9 at 7 p.m.: Berkshire OLLI at BCC presents An Online Conversation with Jim Acosta. The Chief White House Correspondent for CNN will discuss "The Enemy of the People: One Year, One Impeachment, and One Pandemic Later," co-sponsored by Berkshire Gas and The Berkshire Eagle.

  FUN & LEARNING
NEW DATE! Pittsfield's first everDrive.Walk.Bike City Art Show will take place on Friday, July 10 from 4-8 p.m. Artists will be displaying their paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, fashions, sidewalk art, videos, and more on their porches, trees, lawns, and driveways, in their garages, or projected onto their homesView the list of participants and locations here!
Berkshire Theatre Group presents a virtual benefit performance live from Florence, Italy. Hershey Felder stars in Beethoven: A Play with Music on Sunday, July 12 at 8 p.m. 
Dramatizing Gerhard von Breuning's memoir, "Aus dem Schwarzspanierhaus," Felder brings Ludwig van Beethoven to life through the eyes of the Viennese doctor who spent his boyhood by the Maestro's side. Featuring some of the composer's greatest works, Felder's Beethoven is an intense, illuminating journey. 
Plus...
Berkshire Artist Profiles NEW Jacob's Pillow Virtual Festival Learn from Home w/Berkshire Theatre Group | Classes w/Berkshire Music School Classes w/Berkshire Fitness & Wellness Center | Classes w/IS183 Art School | Painting Tutorials w/Berkshire Paint & Sip | Virtual Barrington Stage Classes w/Radiance Yoga | Classes w/Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness Classes w/Antil Fitness | Email aimee@gaiaroots.com for Online Drumming Classes | ONGOING Online Classes w/Berkshire OLLI | FRI 1Berkshire Town Hall: Reopening the Economy, Phase 3 | FRI DLE Virtual Culture Chat | MON WordXWord: Dancing in the Street Virtual Poetry Slam | WED I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone Live Stream | WED 1Berkshire Virtual Team Trivia | THU Live Storytelling w/BCC Alums

  FAMILY FRIENDLY
 
Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness is now offering its Radiant Child Yoga class at Brattle Farm. Kids of all ages are invited to join instructor Julie Pellerin-Herrera on Fridays, July 10, July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 21 from 10:15-11 a.m. Pre-registration is required as class space is limited. $15/class.
Berkshire Theatre Group presents Sunset Cinema, outdoor film screenings at Taconic High School. Drive up and enjoy family-friendly movies in the comfort and safety of your vehicle ($25/car). A food truck will be on site offering concessions! Friday, July 10: Disney's Newsies: The Broadway Musical. Saturday, July 11: The Wiz Live! Thursday, July 16: Jurassic Park.Friday, July 17: The Iron GiantSaturday, July 18: Coco.
Plus...

  SHOP LOCAL / EAT LOCAL
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