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Peter Wells presented an early concept of what the park could look like in the future.

After Winning State Grant, Pittsfield Starts to Re-envision Clapp Park

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The new splash pad at Clapp Park is eyed to be located where the basketball court currently sits.
The basketball court is eyed to move to the rear of the property. A new parking lot, and curb cut onto Route 20, will be built next to the splash bad. The bullpen will be moved. The playground will be renovated. The backstop will be moved back and the track will be repaired. 
"We probably will show new lighting but it is not in this phase," Peter Wells, an architect with Berkshire Design Group, told the Parks Commission on Tuesday.
Wells is in charge of designing the newly envisioned Clapp Park. The state is funding $400,000 worth of repairs to the West Housatonic Street park. That is being coupled with $180,000 from the Rotary Club for the splash pad and $30,000 from the Buddy Pellerin Field Committee for improvements to the baseball field.
"We can change and move things around. Nothing is cast into stone at this point," Wells said of the ideas he had put to paper.
The most notable change is the spray park, which will be coupled with a handicapped accessible parking lot on the east side of the property. Above the sledding hill is eyed to be meandering walking paths, connecting both ends of the park and the neighborhood to the east. The basketball court will be moved to the back of the property.
The playground will be completely revamped to become the "most universally accessible playground in Berkshire County." Wells, who is a licensed playground inspector, said he'll be meeting with the manufacturer of the current equipment to assess how much of it can be reused.
The Buddy Pellerin Field Committee has multiple stages of renovations it plans to do at the park. Wells is designing that to include the eventual lighting system for night games at the home of the Pittsfield High School Generals.
Parks and Open Spaces Director Jim McGrath said the plans are still evolving. He said he'd like to host at least one meeting with the people who use the park to fine tune and determine what the final plans will look like.
"We want to hear what people would really love to see here. We want to hear about stories. We want to hear memories. This is all important when it comes to park design," McGrath said. "This is a fresh look at Clapp Park, a fresh opportunity to look at parking, access, and all of those things we'd like Clapp Park to be."
Parks Commission Chairwoman Michele Matthews questioned if there will be repairs to the narrow entry to the park or the bathrooms. McGrath said there will be some work done at the entrance, but the lane will not likely be widened. As for bathrooms, he said a brand new structure is too costly but the city will be looking to renovate the current ones to become handicapped accessible.
"Developing new bathrooms at Clapp Park would be very costly," McGrath said, but added, "for short money, we can make it fully accessible on the interior."
McGrath said the part itself poses a difficult challenge because it is enclosed by neighborhoods and Route 20. At the same time, the park is used by all ages so fitting everything on the property could be difficult.
"We can't have everything we want at Clapp Park and we will have to make some concession," McGrath said. "We've got a lot to work with here but we have a great team put together to accomplish it."

Tags: parks commission,   public parks,   

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Children Learn About Wildlife at Richmond Free Library

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Children pet Chili the chinchilla. 

RICHMOND, Mass. — There were some furry and feathery guests of honor at the Richmond Free Library this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, founder of Nature Matters Jennifer Leahey wowed local children and parents  with a presentation of live animals.

This event was sponsored by the Richmond Cultural Council, said Library Director Kristin Smith. "We are grateful for their continued support."

Though this is not the first time the library has hosted an animal event, it was Nature Matter's first time here. The event was at full capacity, and each of the socially distanced chairs placed in a semi-circle full of eager animal lovers.

The presentation was aimed at families and children of all ages.  Leahey was chosen by the library because her programs are about connecting people with animals, because she rescues animals and turns those that cannot be released into animal educators, and because she is from Berkshire County, Smith said.

Additionally, this presentation was a safe, socially distanced event where all attendees wore masks.

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