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Parks Commission Chairwoman Michele Matthews cuts the ribbon on the Lakewood Park basketball court.
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Lakewood Park Basketball Court Dedicated in Pittsfield

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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A donation from Berkshire Bank helped the court be completed this year.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The two teens looked askance at the group gathered at the basketball court at Lakewood Park on Thursday before wandering away with their ball. 

It seems even the brief celebration of the completely refurbished court on Newell Street was enough to disrupt a steady stream of players. 
 
"Every time I drive by, there are kids on the court," said Parks Commission Chairwoman Michele Matthews before the ribbon cutting officially celebrating the court's completion with the aid of a Berkshire Bank Foundation grant. 
 
Lori Gazzillo Kiely, senior vice president of Berkshire Bank and foundation director, said the bank had been looking for a project it could partner with the city on for its volunteer "Xtraordinary Day of Service" in June.
 
"The timing didn't quite work out for our Xtraordinary Day ... but we did come across this project, which was the basketball court that was definitely in disrepair, heavily used and in need of upgrade," she said. "The city didn't quite have the full funds to cover the whole cost for the project this year but we were able to help with that through the Berkshire Bank Foundation and Berkshire Bank."
 
The bank's "X-Team" also constructed four player benches to be used at the park, each with a plaque noting the donation. 
 
"Having Laurie and Berkshire Bank come in and assist us was so generous, so welcomed and we're so pleased," McGrath said. "The project was pretty straightforward reconstruction and the full cost was approximately $66,000, the bank's contribution was $25,000 which, of course, helps to further our capital funds for other projects, so that's what we're looking to do."
 
The city's commitment to the maintaining the parks includes the resurfacing of the basketball and tennis courts and the in-line rink that have been worked on through the capital projects list for the past three fiscal years.
 
DelSignore Companies in Troy, N.Y., did the construction. It included a full reclamation, resurfacing in green and red and new hoops and backboards. The grading around the court was just being finished and will be seeded for this fall. McGrath said the court isn't used for league play but is a popular spot for pickup games. 
 
"I know a number of you live in the neighborhood and often pass by here and you're commenting that this basketball court is seeing a lot of use," he said. "It was always a very active and busy court and now we see it will be even more a destination for kids and teenagers in our community."
 
Matthews, joined by fellow Commissioners Clifford Nilan and Simon Muil, cut the large Berkshire Bank "X" with Kiely and bank representatives. 
 
Mayor Linda Tyer, who was escorting Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on a tour of the new Taconic High School, said in a statement that "in the city of Pittsfield, we recognize the power of collaboration and its transformative power in our community. We are thankful to Berkshire Bank for funding this renovation project at Lakewood Park. I am thrilled to know our youth and others will have a revitalized basketball court to enjoy in the days and years ahead."
 
Before the group had even moved the posed benches off the court, players were moving on to it. 
 
"This was an opportunitiy for us to give back to the city in a way that is visible and tangible for those who utilize the parks in the city," said Kiely. 

Tags: basketball,   Berkshire Bank,   donations,   public parks,   sports fields,   

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Pittsfield Preparing Morningside Fire Station RFP

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city plans to reissue another request for proposals for the Morningside fire station with developers' interest ramping up.
 
The City Council on Tuesday heard from Paula Messena during public comment who said she and her partner Scott Graves were interested in developing the long vacant fire station.
 
"I stand before you today publicly announcing our interest in the Morningside fire station," she said. "Scott Graves and I have shown on numerous occasions interest in the building but have never officially been acknowledged by the city."
 
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