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Dan Frering from the Lighting Research Center developed three different concepts for the park.

Berkshire Lightscape Turns Focus To Lighting Up Park Square

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The lights in Dunham Mall were added at the start of the winter.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Lightscapes is honing in on a plan to add lighting to Park Square.
The non-profit raised a little more than $100,000 for its plan to add lighting to City Hall, Dunham Mall, and Park Square. The Dunham Mall lights were added in the winter, decorating the walkway with rotating snowflakes, and Park Square is next. 
Dan Frering from Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer (N.Y.) Polytechnic Institute designed multiple concepts to highlight key areas of Park Square with new lighting.
The key areas will be the Civil War monument, the elm tree, the fountain, the Vietnam memorial, and the pathways. Frering developed three different options.
For the monument, Frering is suggesting a soft light aimed upward in a way that allows the inscription to be read but more significantly highlights the soldier at the top. He is suggesting similar lighting for Elm Street. Those lights will be inground pavers that shine upward.
Frering envisions the fountain as being blue, though the colors could change either all the time or just for certain events. He'd like to do lighting strips on the inside and outside and then uplight the water in the fountain.
The concept also looks to add a light attached to the trees to shine down on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 
But the biggest question remaining is what to do on the walkways. Frering said the options include mounting lights on trees to shine down on the path to "softly illuminate the pathways." He'd also be asking to change out the post tops on the poles inside the park. 
Another option is to add lighting underneath the benches, again with light strips.
"We would want to increase the number of benches so the path is evenly illuminated," he said.
A final option would be to do in-ground pavers throughout. Those can be more elaborate and change colors when people walk on them. He said those could also be installed around the elm tree and the fountain.
"Kids are going to love to play with this," he said.
Frering said additionally, the city could use this project to delve into light art. He suggested the city look to commission sculptures that can be lit up.
He also mentioned the possibility of having light festivals such as is done in Montreal.
"I encourage you to think about how other cities really do use their parks like a winter festival," Frering said.
The equipment costs for the various concepts range from $35,000 to $132,000. Two of Frering's concepts were in the $35,000 range and the option to install in-ground pavers on the walkways, around the tree, and around the fountain was at $132,000. Frering said that cost could be brought down by using fewer pavers.
Frering also did a cost estimate on the electricity the new lighting would need and said each option uses around the same about of electricity the city currently uses. The annual cost to the city could go up as little as $42 or as high as $86 depending on the option that is chosen.
"If the power available for those fixtures are already in the park then you don't need to run new power lines," he said.
The high-cost option is likely out as Elie Hammerling, who founded Berkshire Lightscapes, said it would exceed the budget. Hammerling brought the concepts to the Parks Commission on Tuesday and the commissioners gave their support to move forward.
"I think something like this would be a great addition," said Parks Commissioner Anthony DeMartino, particularly supportive of the idea of adding new benches and lighting underneath them.
Hammerling said the next steps include having the committee decide on the final option and budget, get the engineering work completed, shop for the specific fixtures the group would want to use, and determine the mounting locations. 
"My interest is to do tasteful, artistic lighting," Hammerling said.
Berkshire Lightscapes made a splash in 2017 when it piloted building lights on 100 North St. The lights stayed up all winter but were eventually removed. The non-profit raised some $50,000 that was matched by a state grant for the next three projects.
Meanwhile, Hammerling is trying to convince downtown business owners to install lights on their buildings so all of them can be coordinated.

Tags: lighting,   park square,   parks commission,   

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Berkshire Immigrant Center Celebrates National Immigrant Heritage Month

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Beginning June 1, the Berkshire Immigrant Center invites the community to honor the more than 10,000 immigrants in the Berkshires and by joining the annual observance of national Immigrant Heritage Month and helping to launch a $10,000 fundraising campaign for the center.

"During Immigrant Heritage Month, we proudly honor the many ways immigrants make the Berkshires a better place," said BIC Executive Director Michelle Lopez. "This year we are especially grateful for the hundreds of foreign-born doctors, medical technicians, nurses and staff who are caring for people at Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital, and nursing homes, and for local immigrants who are essential workers at our grocery stores, restaurants and farms."

Since March 20, BIC has raised more than $70,000 for a COVID-19 Relief Fund. Through this fund, BIC has helped more than 140 clients and their families pay for basic needs like rent and utilities.

"We know that so many local people are hurting, both our clients and our supporters, yet even during this crisis people are asking us how they can help," Lopez said.

While 100 percent of emergency relief has been passed through to clients, donations to the Immigrant Heritage Month Campaign help ensure that BIC can serve the local immigrant community in crisis and beyond, including helping immigrants become US citizens. In this year of the U.S. Census count, BIC has also worked diligently to make sure that immigrants are counted and that Berkshire communities thus receive every dollar of federal aid that they should get.

Tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome online. Contributions can also be made by check made out to Berkshire Immigrant Center and mailed to BIC, 67 East Street, Pittsfield MA 01201.

The center remains the only program in Berkshire County that focuses exclusively on meeting the unique challenges of a continuously growing immigrant and refugee population. In 2018 BIC was named "Best Small Nonprofit" in the state by Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

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