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Between Columbus Avenue and Madison Avenue is the final phase of the reconstruction project.

Final Phase Pittsfield's Streetscape On Target For November Completion

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Most of the work has been completed, it is just landscaping, signage, and fencing mostly left. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The multi-year North Street reconstruction is poised to be completed in November.
 
Work on the final phase of the streetscape project commenced in August 2015 and is on pace to conclude by the end of November. The section of the city's main thoroughfare has been under construction from Madison Avenue and Columbus Avenue for the last phase this summer. That is the final piece in a decade-long rehabilitation of North Street.
 
"Much of the streetscape work has been completed at this point and we are on schedule to finish on time. The project should be completed by the end of November," said Ryan Grennan, GIS coordinator with the city's Engineering Department. 
 
"At this point, markings and fencing are almost complete. Trees and landscaping are currently being planted. Most street signs still need to be installed (this will most likely happen in November). Inspections and punch list items will also take place in November."
 
The final phase of the project is funded through a state MassWorks grant to the tune of $4.5 million. The engineering firm Fuss and O'Neill designed all four phases of the project focusing on traffic and pedestrian safety, improving traffic functions and sprucing up the overall appearance. The work includes bump outs at crosswalks, new lighting, flash beacons at unsignalized crosswalks, new sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and road resurfacing. 
 
North Street has been seemingly under construction for years as the reconstruction project was divided into phases. The efforts were first cited in a 2005 master plan for the city. The work first began in 2009 with the renovation of Park Square, which included eliminating the rotary for $3.4 million and extended to Housatonic Street, for $1.8 million, in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Colonial Theater.
 
Another $6 million moved the project down for another mile or so on South Street from Housatonic with the intersection and signals being revamped for $1.5 million. 
 
In 2012, the work expanded the other way, heading North on North Street. That expansion of the reconstruction cost $3.8 million and was done in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Beacon Cinema.
 

New planters were chosen to spruce up the sidewalks.
After that, Phase 3 jumped to the other end of North Street to the area around Berkshire Medical Center and ending at Madison Avenue. That cost was $2 million. Now the final phase links the two ends of the project. J.H. Maximillian had the contracts for all phases of the work.
 
Meanwhile, the city renovated Sottile and Persip parks, pocket parks on either side of Columbus Avenue as well as used a state grant to renovate the McKay Street parking garage. 
 
The goal of the streetscape project was to attract private investment. On and surrounding North Street a number of those projects have taken place over the years as well.
 
Not only had the Beacon and Colonial Theater became anchors to the commercial area but Main Street Hospitality renovated the former Besse-Clark building on North Street into a boutique hotel. Allegrone Construction renovated the Howard Building at the intersection of First and Fenn Street into commercial and market-rate housing. 
 
Allegrone is currently finishing renovating the Onota Building on North Street, with the temporary sidewalk being removed last week and windows now installed, with the same purpose. A few years ago, Scarafoni Associates renovated the former Notre Dame School into apartments. 
 
Inevitably, the construction during each phase caused traffic disruption and access to downtown businesses — especially during the third phase in which a deeper road reconstruction was needed than in other sections. The city used display signs to tell shoppers that the stores were, in fact, open and helped direct customers to the entrances. But, with construction during the sections were widespread and eliminated parking and some access.

Tags: North Street,   road work,   streetscape,   

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West Side Residents Build Ideal Neighborhood At Zoning Session

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Program manager James McGrath opens the session at Conte Community School.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Residents mapped out a West Side they would like to see during an input session this week, utilizing multi-use properties to create robust density.

Held at Conte Community School on Monday, this was the second meeting of a project to examine zoning in the neighborhood. The Department of Community Development, in partnership with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, has been working with an urban planning and design consulting team on the effort that will conclude on June 30.

"This is a really important project for your neighborhood," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

Multifamily houses with spaces to accommodate a small business were popular. A community center, church, year-round farmer's market, and even a place to draw in commerce appeared as elements on the tabletop street.

An emphasis was also placed on the amount of immigrants coming to the area in need of housing.

Max Douhoure, community outreach coordinator for Habitat, explained that he grew up in Africa where people liked to live together, which his build reflected.

"I wanted to improve their conditions," he said. "That’s what I did."

During the first meeting in November, the team heard desires for businesses and commercial uses — including a need for small, family-owned business support. The session provided an overview of what zoning is, what zoning can and can't do, how zoning can improve the community, and the impact on residents.

"Today's exercise is really about creating spaces in buildings and on properties to do a combination of residential [uses] that meet the needs and commercial uses that meet the needs of the neighborhood,"  Emily Keys Innes, principal of Innes Associates explained.

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