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A graphic of what the practice board would look like at Kemp Park, provided by David Willette.

North Adams Parks Commission Considers Practice Board for Brayton

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Park commissioners are hoping to squeeze a multi-sport practice board into the plans being developed for Brayton Park.
 
Commissioner David Willette has been advocating for the practice board, an idea he brought forward more than a year ago prior to be appointed to the commission. The initial idea had been to install the board at Kemp Park but commissioners noted that funding has been obtained for renovating Brayton. 
 
The city recently was awarded a $318,500 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant to overhaul the park and athletic field. 
 
"We got grant money for Brayton and that way we can be sure that the footings and the fence are done right," Willette said at last week's Parks and Recreation Commission meeting. "And not using the 50-year-old footings at Kemp."  
 
Commissioner Robert LeClair also noted that have been discussions about how Kemp will be used in the future.  
"There's no sense doing a wall at Kemp when we don't know [what is going to be done there]," he said. "We know Brayton is going to be done."
 
The multi-use sports board would be a solid wall with lines painted on to show where goal posts or nets would be on a field. Individuals could practice soccer or tennis by hitting against the wall. Willette said he would also like to see a poly surface installed in front of the wall as a low maintenance option.
 
Secretary Timothy Koperek read a letter from Michael Nuvallie, the city's special projects coordinator, updating the commission on the Brayton project. 
 
The project had initially been split into a Phase 1 (the school playground) and Phase 2 (the public playground at the base of the hill). 
 
After attending a state workshop on PARC grants, Nuvallie wrote, "it seems to make better sense to combine both phases of this work into one bigger package so as to account for all the new improvements. In this way, it will achieve some economies of scale by having one contractor onsite versus more than one and it allows better oversight and site control."
 
The project is currently in design with expected elements to include new playground equipment, field renovations, basketball court and walking path. 
 
Koperek said combining both phases makes sense. 
 
"And this is where we ought to ask him about putting the wall in since it's in design," he said.
 
Willette also advocated for returning sliding to Brayton Hill, which was covered with bushes and landscaping after the construction of the new school more than 20 years ago. 
 
"The bushes need to be able to be cut back ... all it is is landscaping," he said. "Michael [Canales] asked who's going to maintain it? I said Mother Nature ...
 
 "If there's snow you slide, if there's no snow, you don't slide."
 
The commissioners also heard an update on the splash pad at Noel Field, currently on hold because of weather but expected to be completed once the good weather arrives. They also briefly discussed the idea to incorporate the skating rink and Windsor Lake to their oversight and expand the commission. No actions have so far been taken in this regard. 
 
The commission plans to meet with sports league leaders in the coming months to go over policies regarding the use of city fields. 
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North Adams Council Passes $41M Budget for Fiscal 2021

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council approved a $41 million budget for fiscal 2021 on Tuesday along with using close to $300,000 in reserve funds despite concerns expressed by several councilors.
 
The total amount to be raised is $40,939,756, up $134,218, or 0.33 percent, from last year. Some $11,369.776 has already been spent over the past three months through continuing appropriations caused by delays in the state budget because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. 
 
"This is now coming on really six months of a budget process," said Mayor Thomas Bernard. "We typically start talking about the budget with the Finance Committee in March, and this year we had our first conversation in late April because following the shutdown at the state and local levels, there was just so much uncertainty ... it made sense to pursue several months of continuation budgets, with the goal of bringing forward this budget now for you in October."
 
The budget on its own did not generate much discussion overall but the use of $320,427 in reserve funds to offset the amount to be raised by taxes did.
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