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An initial design of the proposed spray park and other amenities planned for Noel Field. The city hopes to have a designer in hand by March and contractor ready for July.

North Adams Looking to Start Spray Park Construction in July

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Bids on designing the next phase at the Noel Field Athletic Complex are due on Feb.1, with the anticipation of awarding a contract by March. 
Michael Nuvallie, director of the city's Office of Community Development, told the Parks & Recreation Commission on Monday that the hope is to start construction on the splash park after July 1 this year and have the park completed by June 2019. 
"The goal is to try to build as much as we can this calendar year and complete  it by June 1 next year," he said. "It's pretty much the timeline we used for the skate park." 
The $723,000 project is being funded through a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant of $400,000 awarded earlier this month and matching funds from the city's next Community Development Block Grant application. The splash park will complement the skate park opened last June at Noel Field using the same funding mechanisms. 
Phase II also includes a new double basketball court, bocce and pickle ball courts, and reconfigured walking track. The less used tennis courts will be removed since residents can play at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts courts off West Shaft Road. The first phase had included laying the groundwork for the next step by installing electrical and water lines to reach the splash pad area. A Department of Public Works building at the site is expected to be partially demolished, leaving enough structure for restrooms.
Commissioner Tim Koperek questioned the decision to remove the tennis courts. Nuvallie responded there was a "tremendous demand" on the single basketball court now and the determination was a second court would be better used than repairing the tennis courts. 
"We've been vetting this project for several years," he said. "The serious tennis players play at MCLA, the high school teams play at MCLA. ... It removes tennis but it isn't like we haven't been vetting that proposition." 
Commissioner David Willette asked if wall could be incorporated at least for tennis volleying. Nuvallie responded that it could be looked at in the design. 
Willette also raised the possibility of a "senior" gym being incorporated into this next phase and pointed to Greenfields Outdoor Fitness products. This community gym equipment is designed for outdoor use and ranges from sit-up benches to ellipticals along with options for handicapped accessibility.  
Koperek asked if there was a possibility of attaining grant money in the future to put in such an option. 
"There's clearly enough space. It would be nice to keep all that stuff kind of close — splash park, skate park, walking track — as we put it all together," Nuvallie said. "Under a great scenario, if we went out to bid with this and bids came in under budget and we had some additional unused money, then we could sprinkle this in."
He didn't think it would be too complicated or large in money. 
Willette had gotten some rough quotes from local contractors on installing at least a 1,500 square-foot concrete pad on which to locate the equipment. That had come to around $20,000 for preparation, $6,000 for the pad and $33,000 for the equipment. He wasn't sure if the quotes had taken into account prevailing wage but wondered if the Department of Public Services could do some of the work. 
"I can't speak for Public Works, they probably have the wherewithal and they probably have the tools. I don't know if they have the time given the manpower," Nuvallie said. "The other thing that concerns me is making sure what we applied for in our grant is what we're going to build. Something $20,000, $30,000, that's a bigger price tag than I had thought and I think that would trigger a formal amendment." 
He said it was worth leaving it on the table for future work at Noel Field. 
In other business, the commissioners discussed a request to move the lights from River Grove Park to Fallon Field. The lights had been installed for football practices but have not been used in some years. Moving them to Fallon would allow two games to be played in the evenings and give the league access to bathrooms and a concession stand, said Erin Booth of North Adams Independent Youth Baseball, attending on behalf of Steve Phaneuf.
"It's a good-sized field, it's good for them. The rules are a lot different: they get to lead, they get to steal anytime," he said of the players who range up to age 12. "It's more or less Babe Ruth baseball rules on a smaller field."
The lights would need concrete bases and trenched power from the exisiting supply owned by the city, and also have to be removed from River Grove Park. Booth did not think they would be needed until after the children are out of school. 
Wood said he would contact Administrative Officer Michael Canales to see what the next steps would be. 
Booth said the league would also like to continue practices at Kemp Park. The baseball field there had been considered for removal and the area reduced to greenspace as part of the consolidation of sports fields to the Alcombright and Noel Field complexes. With only about two people dedicated to Parks & Recreation, removing fencing and unused dugouts would make the fields easier to maintain. However, Freemen Field also has yet to be decommissioned and its not clear when either field might be removed. 
The commission also welcomed Willette as its newest member, although he had not yet been sworn in. He replaces long-time Commissioner Mark Vadnais, who stepped down last month. 
• Commissioner George Canales reminded his colleagues that the Lafesta Baseball Exchange would be using Joe Wolfe Field on the evening of Saturday, July 21, and the afternoon of Sunday, July 22. The 28-year-old baseball tourney between North Adams and Boston will play its 100th game here on July 21. 

Tags: Noel Field,   parks commission,   state grant,   

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McCann to Hold Virtual Open House for Prospective Students

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School's eighth-grade Showcase for Success will be held virtually this year and potential students will be invited to the "premiere."
Principal Justin Kratz told the School Committee last Thursday that instead of inviting area eighth-graders to the school for the annual showcase and look at after-school programming, the school's recruitment efforts will be virtual.
"It is not our ideal situation. We would like to have students here," Kratz said. "But I think this will be a good night and a good event."
This decision to go virtual was made because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, eighth-graders are invited to the annual open house to tour the building, see demonstrations in the various shops and labs, and speak with the high school's students and teachers about the programs in the regional vocational school district.
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