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The two-story garage has been reduced to one-story for nearly two years.

Pittsfield Asking State to Release Funds for Columbus Ave. Garage Rebuild

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The concrete deck has been separating over time. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Plans to replace the crumbling Columbus Avenue garage are "shovel" ready but the state still hasn't released the more than $6 million earmarked for it.
The top level of the garage has been closed since August 2014 when city officials at the time determined the concrete beams were pulling away from the supporting structure. The move reduced parking spots in the structure by 156.
Earlier that year the state earmarked $6 million in a transportation bond bill and now city officials are pushing for those funds to perform a complete $9.4 million new build.
"The garage project is 'shovel ready.' All we need now is the estimated $9.4 million. There is an earmark in a transportation bond bill that says 'no less than six million dollars for a parking garage between Columbus Ave and Summer Street in the City of Pittsfield,'" Director of Building Maintenance Denis Guyer wrote in an email late last week.
"Since 2014 the City has appropriated $500,000 toward the design of a new garage."
The project's start would be "immediate" if the $9.4 million is appropriated, Guyer said. 
The new structure is eyed to be a three stories with 400 parking spots. It's planned to be a much more modern facility including lighting, visibility and safety features. The design is similar to that of the McKay Street parking garage.
"It'll be a much safer building," Guyer said earlier this month when the plan received approval from the Community Development Board. At that hearing, dozens of downtown advocates supported the new building.
Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Executive Director Kristine Hurley said there are some 500 businesses downtown, filling up the existing parking spaces. 
"We have thousands of employees who commute every day," Hurley said. 
She said of those 500 businesses, 100 or so are restaurants, retailers, or other attractions drawing people to the downtown, all requiring places to park. Robert Malnati from the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, which is across Columbus Avenue from the garage, offered his support, particularly looking toward the future if the passenger rail line project from New York City to Pittsfield is ever completed.
"Once we have the rail, where do people park?" Malnati asked.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission performed a study identifying locations for train stations. In Pittsfield, the existing Intermodal Center was identified as the prime location. BRPC Executive Director Nathaniel Karns estimates at minimum of 70 additional parking spaces will be needed. 
The state has purchased the rail lines to perform the needed upgrades to bring passenger rail back. However, it is still unknown what type of support the project will receive from Gov. Charlie Baker's administration. The passenger rail line was championed by former Gov. Deval Patrick. The state still needs to upgrade the lines — as does Connecticut. 
The Columbus Avenue garage also sits adjacent to the newly constructed Hotel on North, and is just a block away from Barrington Stage's two locations. Those, too, attract visitors downtown. 
Mayor Linda Tyer is supporting the efforts to rebuild the garage and says she's lobbying Baker's office for the funds. Also in March, Tyer led a tour of the downtown for Community Affairs Director Hodari Cail, with the Columbus Avenue garage as one of the stops. 
"Regarding the Columbus Avenue Garage, $6 million already exists in the transportation bond bill. Our project is shovel ready and the total cost is estimated at $9.4 million. We are advocating for Gov. Baker to release the transportation bond bill funds and, at the same, we seek further assistance to make this critical downtown asset a reality," Tyer wrote in an email on Thursday.  
"The garage will provide parking that serves downtown merchants, cultural institutions, the downtown campus of Berkshire Community College, and the Berkshire Regional Transportation Authority for both its regional bus transportation and its Amtrak train service."
The level of state participating isn't known at this point but city leaders hope to find the necessary funds for the project. 

Tags: downtown,   North Street,   parking,   parking garage,   transportation bond,   

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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 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.

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. 
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 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

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.

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