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The track and baseball field were not part of the project. But, the Parks Department is hoping to make some improvements there.

Pittsfield Eyes Repairs To Taconic Track, Baseball Field

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a brand-new school, the Pittsfield Parks Department is plotting a way to make upgrades to the Taconic High School track, football, and baseball fields.
Parks Commissioner Anthony DeMartino said the first goals would be to repair and re-stripe the track, replace fencing around both the track area and the baseball and soccer fields, and install a new backstop and dugouts at the baseball field. That would total $206,350, in which the Parks Department is looking to use Community Preservation Funding. The hope is to start with that and then continue with more projects over time.
"If you were going to go with the pie in the sky goal, it would be $2 million," DeMartino said of the overall concepts he'd like see at the park. "We sought ways to look at this, prioritize it, and hopefully make it come to fruition."
A small working group has been getting cost estimates for every thing they'd like to do and determined to focus priority on those particular upgrades. Broken down, it is estimated that repairing the track would cost $31,250, $84,700 would be the cost to replace fencing around the track, $59,150 for fencing around the baseball and soccer fields, and $31,250 for a new backstop and dugout.
"We did look at digging up the track and rellacing it but it was really cost prohibited." DeMartino said.
But there are ways to improve the track itself, which has been worn out since it was last replaced sometime in the 1980s. The repainting of the lines on the track will allow more events to take place there.
The football field, which sits in the middle of the track, has been through years of deferred maintenance and lots of usage. The plan would include another grass surface. The entrance to the track is narrow and doesn't provide an opportunity for those in wheelchairs to get through. The baseball fields sit next to a wooded area and ATVs and snowmobiles have been known to tear up the surface. DeMartino said improved access to the track area on Lakeway Drive will help address traffic jams for drop off and pick up.
"Addressing some parking and access points for busing and drop off is a high priority," he said.
In the fall, the city will cut the ribbon on the new $120.8 million high school. That project, however, doesn't include any work on the track and baseball fields. The Massachusetts School Building Authority has guidelines around what it will reimburse as part of a building project and improvements to those areas would not be eligible for state funding. The concept of re-doing those areas as part of the project was scrapped by the School Building Needs Commission.
Superintendent Jason McCandless said the project does include a paved walking path from the new school to those areas. But, that is currently the extent of any work in that direction.
"We had looked at a bridge, because there is a little brook, but the cost in the original scope of the project just wasn't doable," McCandless said.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath said those fields are used often by not only sports teams from both high schools but by the community at large. In 2016, the working group began its efforts to re-envision that area of the campus. The spot of the existing school is eyed to be transformed into soccer fields.
McGrath said the Community Preservation Act is an applicable area to seek funding. The act was adopted by voters and places an additional surcharge on tax bills for specific purposes. That total is then matched somewhat by the state's Community Preservation Trust Fund.
But there is no guarantee that the Taconic project will be funded by the Community Preservation Committee. According to a letter from James Conant to McCandless, there are 13 eligible projects seeking those funds, totaling $1,147,150 worth of requests. It is estimated that there will only be $360,000 available to distribute. The funding will be competitive.
"It is used by the community. It is used by the student athletes," McGrath said. "We'll do what we can. At this point we are chasing the CPA monies."
DeMartino and McGrath said they'd also be keeping their eyes out for additional money to put toward the campus.
If the funding is secured, School Committee member William Cameron questions management of the space in the future. He said those fields were designed for academic programming but groups outside of those school programs wear the field down. 
"It may be worth discussion — especially if these are going to be grass fields — they need to be rested," Cameron said.
School Committee member Daniel Elias said the fields should remain open to the public because the funds are coming from the taxpayers who may not have children in the schools but still use the school facilities.
"There has to be some kind of happy medium," Elias said, to which McCandless said there is definitely a way to do both: protect the assets while keeping it open to the community.
McGrath responded saying there has already been talks about how to manage the fields.
Meanwhile, Mayor Linda Tyer questioned the future of the facility. The new school was constructed in a way to easily expand and with the city's population declining the day may come when the Valentine Road campus houses both Pittsfield High School and Taconic. She wanted to make sure the proposal was not going to get in the way of that possibility.
And it won't. Any future expansion of the building's footprint would go south, not north. But, it would jeopardize the soccer fields that will be constructed once the new school is razed. McCandless said when that day comes, the school will be able to find other places to relocate sports programs.
"It would not be unheard up in an urban district like ours to have to relocate playing fields," McCandless said.
But the mayor was supportive of the plan.
"The timing is right. We are going to have a beautiful, state of the art new high school, and doing what we can to enhance that campus through outdoor activity is worth pursuing," Tyer said.
School Committee member Cynthia Taylor asked about restrooms. McGrath said that isn't part of the plan right now. But, the portable toilets that are currently used can be relocated somewhat.
Elias suggested opening the school's facilities up. And McCandless said that could be considered but it would require custodians.
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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Dc. 6-12

Enjoy sixteen different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the on First Friday Artswalk and all month long! In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

The Office of Cultural Development will host its 5th annual Wreath Art Auction at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the First Friday festivities. Almost 50 hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths, kissing balls and table pieces will be available for purchase and auction following the lighting of the tree in Park Square. Enjoy music and refreshments at a preview reception starting at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Grab-and-go options will be available. All funds raised at this event go to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. Admission at the door is $10, or purchase tickets in advance at the Lichtenstein Center or by emailing 

These events coincide with Downtown Pittsfield's 2nd annual Festive Frolic
, running on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Events include a North Pole Pub Crawl, snowman story time, ornament making, glow-in-the-dark Jingle Bell Rock, a craft fair, carolers, holiday lights, shopping opportunities and more!


Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company presents local singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Matt Cusson, who will join forces to kick off the season right, with holiday songs and lots of fun. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 
FRI North Pole Pub Crawl in Downtown Pittsfield FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow FRI Yule Jam at Hancock Shaker Village | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North | FRI JB's Acoustic Gravel at PortSmitt's | FRI Patient Zero Records Show at Crossroads | FRI Legacy at The A | SAT Dust Bowl Faeries at The Whitney | SAT Holidays Around the World Dinner at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Mike McMann at Proprietor's Lodge | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | MON Cabaret Workshop Performance at Berkshire Music School | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Vinyl Soul Night at Thistle & Mirth | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Marc Black's History of the '50s & '60s at Berkshire Athenaeum | THU The Picky B's at Mission


SAT Visit with Santa at The Beacon Cinema
Visit with Santa at the Beacon Cinema as part of the Downtown Pittsfield Festive Frolic! This is a family event where children can have their photo taken with Santa by a professional photographer! In exchange, please donate a brand-new, unwrapped item to the Berkshire Community Action Council's Warm Clothing Program. See website for list of needed itemsIf you are unable to bring an item, a donation of $5 will be accepted by BCAC volunteers. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
FRI WeeMuse Adventures at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI Screening of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees SAT Festive Frolic Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT WeeMuse Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT FREE Kids' Crafts at Peace Train Tees SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum | SAT Make Holiday Ornaments at Berkshire Paint & Sip SAT We Can Be Heroes at Berkshire Museum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum SUN Billy Budd in the Breadbox Audio Book Launch at Arrowhead | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's MON Tiny Tots Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Dungeons & Dragons at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE WeeMuse Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Graphic Novel Book Club at Berkshire Athenaeum WED WeeMuse Parent/Child STEM at Berkshire Museum THU Preschool Play & Learn at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Club at Berkshire Athenaeum


SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Salve at BYDF
Join Amanda Marsh for a Restorative Yoga with CBD class at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness. You will be guided into a deeply relaxing restorative yoga flow, blending supported yoga postures, breathing techniques, and cannabis-infused salve to encourage letting go fully into each yoga posture. 5:30-7 p.m. $25 for the class and $65 for the class and salve. 
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit SUN Restorative Yoga w/Massage at Radiance Yoga | MON Common Yoga at Zion Lutheran Church | MON Let's Keep It Moving at Knesset Israel


SAT+ A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Revel in the joy and redemptive power of A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with holiday carols and the wonderment of the season. $29/$39. A sensory-friendly performance will be held held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
FRI-SUN Gingerbread House Contest at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Holiday Craft Fair, Cookie Walk & Tag Sale at Zion Lutheran Church | SAT Lyme Alliance Meeting at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT-SUN Cop on Top 10th Anniversary at Walmart SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage | SUN Brunch w/Genna & Jess at Dottie's | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's | SUN Jazz Brunch at Hotel on North | SUN Berkshire Concert Choir at Berkshire Museum | SUN Hilltown Choral Society Holiday Concert at Zion Lutheran Church | SUN FREE Eagles Band Holiday Concert at First United Methodist | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Open Swim at Gladys Allen Brigham Center | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Holiday Market at Dottie's


TUE Paint "Holiday Pittsfield Park" at Paint & Sip
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