PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Kirvin Park has gone to the dogs.
The park off Williams Street had long been used by dog owners as a place to let their four-legged friends run off leash. However, dogs are required to be leashed in a city park and the increasing use of the park by dogs has led to problems.
"It has been a problem of dogs at that park for a while," said Parks Commission Chairwoman Michele Matthews.
Jeffrey Gordon grew up in the neighborhood and now lives there and he likes to walk in Kirvin with his 2-year-old niece. However, the dogs have become so problematic that he has been forced to go elsewhere.
"I've been aggressively kind of charged several times on the trails. I had to defend myself when one lunged at me," Gordon said.
Gordon said he often comes home and finds that he stepped in feces and he will no longer take his niece there. He has asked the city to do more to get people to abide by the rules.
The parks commissioners, however, say their hands are fairly tied.
"I don't know if the city has the ability to enforce these regulations. It is kind of like no smoking in city parks," said Commissioner Simon Muil.
Commissioner Anthony DeMartino said Kirvin isn't the only city park with problem issues. He's received complaints from people letting their dogs run on the Little League field at Belanger Park and complaints about loud noises after hours at Burbank Park.
The Parks Commission doesn't have the resources to have somebody patrol and issue fines to individuals breaking the rules.
DeMartino suggested pitching a budget item to hire a park ranger to handle such complaints. The city had one at one point but that post had fallen to the wayside. He thinks having a ranger would at least spread the word that the city is enforcing the rules.
Muil suggested working with the Police Department to "blitz" parks at certain times to remind people about the rules. Commissioner Joe Durwin added Kirvin might be a good location for surveillance cameras at the entrance to see who is coming or going if there is a case of something like a dog attack.
All of those suggestions, however, need resources and can only go so far. The commission is hoping to get community members to be more considerate.
"I think ultimately we just need some kind of consideration from people using our parks because there is only so much we can do," Muil said.
Gordon added that additional signage could be added at the park, particularly with language that is more positive than strictly saying dogs need to be leashed. He thinks the reminders to keep the city parks clean by picking up after their dogs could go a long way.
Durwin added that public messaging can also go a long way. He said on other occasions the city's messaging had led to more people following the rules.
However, multiple commissioners also expressed that no matter what there will still be a "small percentage" of people who will continue to break the rules.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jim McGrath said he will work on ways to help curb the behavior. That includes developing a proposal with the Police Department for targeted enforcement, developing new signage at Kirvin, and a public awareness campaign.
In other business, the Parks Commission approved renaming the playground at Clapp Park after attorney Ralph Cianflone, who had been instrumental in bringing the Pittsfield Rotary to the project to install a splash pad and make the playground more handicapped accessible. The Rotary Club is paying for that project and it will be constructed soon. But,
"It was his main idea. He pushed this. We had a few options and he drove us to it," said Jeff Hassett of the Rotary Club.
Summer events are starting to line up. The commission approved a number of park usage requests on Tuesday:
The fireworks at the end of the 10x10 festival will return to the Common on Feb. 23. Organizer Shiobbean Lemme said this is the fourth year of having fireworks and it has proven to be successful.
"We partnered with Berkshire United way last year and the Zion Church and they do a pre-fireworks event that is free and open to the public," Lemme said.
The Berkshire Ultra Running Community For Service will return to Clapp Park on Aug. 8 for the seventh annual Sweltering Summer 8-Hour Ultra Marathon which brings runners from all over to take as many laps around the track as possible. That race is capped at 80 runners and typically brings a total of 100 to 120 people to the park, said organizer Benjamin Griffin.
The Berkshire Pride Festival returns to the Common on June 15. Organizer Jennifer Wahr said this will be the third year and attendance has increased each year. She is expecting as many as 700 people at this year's event.
The Pittsfield Suns will be bringing back the food truck festival to Wahconah Park on May 25. Suns General Manager Kristin Huss said the event brings 13 different food trucks and various other vendors to the concourse of the baseball stadium to kick off the Suns season. It is free to the public but parking in the Wahconah Park lot costs $3.
The commission also renewed the lease for the coffee kiosk, which set up shop on the Common this fall.
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Berkshires Beat: BNRC Upgrades Popular Trails for 2019 Summer Season
On Monday, June 10, state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli joined members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) board of directors, volunteers, staff and nature trail enthusiasts to unveil a redesigned trailhead kiosk and enhanced on-trail signage at BNRC's flagship conservation reserve, Yokun Ridge South at Olivia's Overlook. Similar upgrades have also been completed at 16 other BNRC trail sites across Berkshire County. All 54 BNRC reserves are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge.
Each updated kiosk features a large map of the reserve and its trail system; notes on the natural, cultural, and ownership history of the protected lands; and suggested activities for each property. Also available at the kiosks are free, newly revised paper trail maps for visitor use. Easier-to-read on-trail signage, mostly in the form of large brown signs with white letters, has also been installed on many trails. Among these are trails at The Boulders, a BNRC property used by many, which spans across parts of Dalton, Lanesborough and the City of Pittsfield in the center of Berkshire County.
"These kiosk and signage improvements, coupled with BNRC's new Berkshire Trails app, will help everyone explore the richness of the Berkshires' hiking trails and outdoor opportunities," said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. At Monday's unveiling ceremony, Pignatelli spoke to the crowd of the economic importance of conservation land and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Berkshires.
Established in 1967, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment. There are 54 BNRC conservation reserves spread across Berkshire County, free to the public, open to everyone for non-motorized recreation, featuring over 55 miles of maintained trails.
Cheshire food pantry
The Cheshire Pantry opened on Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Cheshire Community Center. The pantry will be available the first Saturday of each month. Emergency food is available as well as delivery service.
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