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Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath briefed the Parks Commission on the ongoing efforts Tuesday night.

Pittsfield's Clapp Park Could Be Next To See Major Upgrades

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Clapp Park could be the next park to see a major upgrade.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Clapp Park could see a major upgrade in the coming years.
 
The city has partnered with the Rotary Club and the Buddy Pellerin Field Committee on a state grant to complete a major park renovation.
 
The Pellerin Field Committee is a private collection of residents who first got the baseball field at the park renamed after longtime coach Buddy Pellerin and then teamed up to raise money for park improvements.
 
They have already made a number of upgrades to the baseball field and they still have more in mind.
 
At the same time, the Rotary Club has raised money to install a splash pad near the playground area.
 
"The Rotary Club has been a great partner with the city and we look forward to working with them," Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath said.
 
In total, the project will cost some $610,000, with $400,000 hopefully coming from the state. McGrath said the plans include improvements to not only the baseball field and the addition of splash pads, but also look at improving parking, restrooms, and "a number of other issues that need to be addressed."
 
"We applied for the grant and we hope to hear in early October whether this has been funded," McGrath said. 
 
He added, "there is zero match from the city of Pittsfield." 
 
That type of improvement to parks has become a trend. In a short period of time, the Parks Commission approved changing the names of three city parks after being petitioned by residents and all three groups have followed through with efforts to spruce the respective parks up.
 
In October 2015, Pitt Park was renamed after Rosemary and Rev. Willard Durant Park. A year later, those same community members behind the name change performed a community build to put in a new playground, which was funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant program. McGrath said on Tuesday that in just a few weeks, new signage will be installed at the park.
 
In October 2016, the Parks Commission approved changing the name of Highland Park after Christopher R. Porter. On Tuesday, McGrath said new equipment has been ordered to replace the aging playground there and that the volunteers behind that effort will be holding a community build, too, on July 29.
 
"They've raised a lot of money to start making a lot of improvements at the park," he said. "That equipment is in the order of $14,000, $15,000 and that was entirely raised by the neighborhood group." 
 
New fencing has been installed and benches have been priced out. McGrath said he will next be looking to install new signage there.
 
As for park signage, the city is looking to replace all signs in the park system to make them standardized. The Parks Commission previously approved a design, which is similar to the signs used at the conservation areas but with a different background color, and now McGrath says he'll be looking to craft a long-term plan to change them out. 
 
"We'd like to see all of the parks have the consistent signage. ... Eventually, the idea is to brand all of the parks together," McGrath said. 
 
He later added, "Once we get the Durant Park ones in, we can take a step back, take a breather, and then develop that long-range change out plan."

Tags: parks commission,   playgrounds,   public parks,   

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Innovation Center on Schedule For January Opening

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Innovation Center is still on schedule to open sometime in January.
 
The center's Executive Director Ben Sosne gave a brief update to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority last week and said board should expect a grand opening in the first half of January.  
 
"I was just through the building and it looks fantastic," he said on Tuesday. "I am really excited to get this thing open and welcome everybody in."
 
He said in the next few months they will be moving in tenants and figuring out final specs.
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