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Peter Wells from Berkshire Design Group presented the conceptual plans to the Parks Commission Tuesday night.

Conceptual Plans For Pittsfield Dog Park Created, City Seeks Design Funding

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The park is eyed to be created on land inside Burbank Park.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will apply for grant funds next month to design a dog park.
The Parks Commission gave its approval of a preliminary design crafted by Berkshire Design Group. The plans call for two areas — one for small dogs and one for all dogs — with walking paths, mounds for dogs to run up and down, shade, decorative fire hydrants, shade, water fountains for the dogs, and a 21-car parking lot. 
Next, the city hopes to reel in a grant from the Stanton Foundation to finalize a design.
"You are looking anywhere for an acre, acre and a half of the all dog area and a half acre for the small dogs," said Peter Wells of Berkshire Design Group.
The architects have built 11 dog parks in Massachusetts. In Pittsfield, a swatch of land at Burbank Park is eyed for the park. The creation of a dog park has been in discussion for more than a decade.
When Mayor Linda Tyer took office, she organized a committee to explore the possibilities. That group identified the location, developed somewhat of a management plan, and a list of rules.
Wells has since created a conceptual plan for what it could look like. The city would be eligible for up to $225,000 from the foundation, which would require a 10 percent match yielding a total project cost of $250,000.
The conceptual plan calls for five-foot tall fences around both sections. There would be two gates at the entrance. The dog owner would enter the first gate, take the dog off the leash there, and then open the next gate for the dog to access the park. The small dog section would be for dogs less than 25 lbs. only. But if the little dogs want to play with the bigger ones, they can use the all dog section as well.
Wells said there will be an assessment of the trees there and the plan will call for saving many of them and building the park around it — providing natural shade instead of building a shade structure.
It will feature mounds of sand, benches, the fire hydrants, and even a "penalty box" for owners to take the dogs. The looped trail system will allow for the owners to walk around the park while still keeping an eye on the dogs in the park. 
Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath added that the city is also considering ways to connect the park area to an area of Onota Lake that isn't used much for swimming now. That will allow owners to take their dogs for a swim, too.
"This is one more use within Burbank park that we want to encourage. We want there to be activity in the park and we want to eliminate the conflicts between humans and dogs that sometimes exist here," McGrath said.
McGrath, however, said with dwindling park support it will be essential to have a friends group maintaining and managing the area. He said the city won't build the park unless it has a commitment from such a group.
"We might need to do some recruiting but we want to make sure we have them on our side and on our team. We are going to need them," he said. 
"We also want to make sure this is a facility that we can maintain. There is an expectation that we won't do anything unless we have a strong working group that will stay with the park and help us with the day to day operations."
McGrath doesn't want to see the park "suffer from deferred maintenance." And when it comes to enforcing the rules, dog owners will be responsible for self-policing. Wells said in the other dog parks he's been part of, a group of owners tend to become passionate about it and do take care of the facility.
"It is important we continue to have that conversation," said Parks Commissioner Joe Durwin of creating the friend's group to oversee the park.
Wells said a topographic map is being created now, which will further guide the price and design. Once that is completed, the city will apply for the funds to bring the concept to final design, and then follow that with an application for the construction funding. 
Wells said the foundation even allows cities to apply for up to 5 percent of the cost six months after the park opens to make any adjustments. He said a city can do that three different times.

Tags: dog park,   parks commission,   public parks,   

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Mac-Haydn Theatre, Shakespeare & Company Take Top Honors at Berkshire Theatre Awards

Tara Franklin accepting the award for Outstanding Solo Performance for 'On the Exhale' at the Chester Theatre Company.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Theatre Critics Association presented the Berkshire Theatre Awards on Nov. 11, the fourth year the awards have been presented to honor and celebrate the excellence and diversity of theater in the greater Berkshire region.

The 2019 awards really display the commitment of regional theaters to presenting new and diverse work. Women and minorities were well-represented among the nominees and the winners in all categories. Nominees represented theaters in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

Critics J. Peter Bergman and Macey Levin once again hosted the ceremony, which saw top honors for Outstanding Play Production go to the Shakespeare & Company's production of Suzan-Lori Park's "Topdog/Underdog" and "Ragtime" take home the award for Outstanding Musical Production for the Mac-Haydn Theatre.

This year's ceremony featured musical and Shakespearean performances by nominees David Joseph ("Times Stands Still" at Shakespeare & Company) and Greg Boover ("Twelfth Night" at Shakepeare & Company), and musical selections by Monica M. Wemitt, Rachel Rhodes-Devey and Gabe Belyeu from the Mac-Haydn Theatre.

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