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The city is making revisions to the proposed riverside park to bring down costs, including eliminating a bridge and some pathways.

Pittsfield Tweaks Westside Riverway Park Design

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission reviewed a trimmed-down Westside Riverway Park plan that the city hopes will receive lower bids.
Last week, the commissioners discussed with Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath a modified previously approved plan that lowers the overall cost of the project.
"There has been some retooling of the project and certain parts of the project had to be removed and parts of the project have been trimmed down," McGrath said during the meeting aired Aug.  29 on PCTV. "The impacts have been lessened."
Last month, McGrath informed the Parks Commission that the bids for the project came in too high and the city would have to rebid the project. 
The city received grant funds to develop a park on a Dewey Avenue parcel where blighted homes used to sit.
McGrath said the biggest change is the elimination of a bridge that would connect the park to John Street. He said the bridge seemed to be one of the main cost drivers. 
"We carved that off," he said. "We still want a bridge crossing to connect the park to the neighborhood but at this point in time it does not seem to be possible."
He said the performance space will be shifted from the north side of the park to the south. This will also decrease the overall cost because there would be less grading needed. 
"We flip-flopped the layout to the park," he said. "We haven't lost any of the functionality of the park."
He said the canoe launch will also be moved to the south side of the park and some pathways were removed from the initial design.
McGrath said the city hoped to send the project out to bid again soon and hopefully be able to begin construction this year before the grant deadline of the summer of next year.   
In other business, the commission continued Guild Solar LLC's notice of intent application request hearing for the installation of a ground-mounted solar energy facility off of Gamwell Avenue to consider an alternative access area.
Daniel Band of Guild Solar, who attended the meeting, said they looked at access roads off Barker Road, Claremont Street, and Gamwell Avenue -- all of which had environmental impacts -- but deemed Barker Road the preferred access area.
Band said construction on Barker would be less intense and would be less of a nuisance to surrounding neighborhoods.
"You would have construction vehicles going through the neighborhoods and the utility poles would be very close to people's houses," he said. 
Ban said Barker already had access to three-phase power. Bringing in three-phase power from Gamwell would cost $555,000 and Claremont would cost $462,000.
Interconnection upgrade costs are also more favorable on Barker with a cost of $427,000. To consider Gamwell and Claremont would send them back to the beginning of the process and jump the interconnection upgrade costs to $7.8 million.
The alternative routes would also require a restudy and additional permitting time which would take another 12 to 36 months.
Band said overall the alternative routes the state Department of Environmental Protection asked them to look at would blow through the $8.5 million budget, which is something the DEP considers. 
The commissioners noted a triangular plot of land near the proposed array and asked if this area was considered.
Representatives with Guild said this plot is owned by another individual and there is intermittent stream they would have to impact and cross.  
Commissioner Thomas Sakshaug felt this would be less of an impact than building in the riverfront area.
"Crossing an intermittent stream does not trigger an alternative analysis and my sympathies for the amount of time things take ... is just not there," he said. "The minute you knew you were in a riverfront area that should have triggered to look at all alternatives right then and there ... this should not be a surprise."
Guild and the commission differed in the opinion that crossing the stream would be a lesser impact than building along the waterfront. Band said that going over the stream would also be costly because a bridge would have to accommodate a fire truck. He said they would be looking well over $100,000.
With this new information, the commission voted to continue the hearing until later in the month. 
Some residents spoke in opposition of the project fearing it would negatively affect the environment and wildlife  
Resident Robert LeBlanc was specifically concerned about the wood turtles that inhabit the area during the summer.
Guild noted that they discussed this with MassWildlife and this area will be fenced off and left untouched.
The Community Development Board also voted to continue the hearing at its meeting earlier this week. The Conservation Commission must vote on the notice of intent before other boards can take action.

Tags: conservation commission,   public parks,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Dc. 6-12

Enjoy sixteen different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the on First Friday Artswalk and all month long! In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

The Office of Cultural Development will host its 5th annual Wreath Art Auction at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the First Friday festivities. Almost 50 hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths, kissing balls and table pieces will be available for purchase and auction following the lighting of the tree in Park Square. Enjoy music and refreshments at a preview reception starting at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Grab-and-go options will be available. All funds raised at this event go to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. Admission at the door is $10, or purchase tickets in advance at the Lichtenstein Center or by emailing 

These events coincide with Downtown Pittsfield's 2nd annual Festive Frolic
, running on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Events include a North Pole Pub Crawl, snowman story time, ornament making, glow-in-the-dark Jingle Bell Rock, a craft fair, carolers, holiday lights, shopping opportunities and more!


Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company presents local singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Matt Cusson, who will join forces to kick off the season right, with holiday songs and lots of fun. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 
FRI North Pole Pub Crawl in Downtown Pittsfield FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow FRI Yule Jam at Hancock Shaker Village | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North | FRI JB's Acoustic Gravel at PortSmitt's | FRI Patient Zero Records Show at Crossroads | FRI Legacy at The A | SAT Dust Bowl Faeries at The Whitney | SAT Holidays Around the World Dinner at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Mike McMann at Proprietor's Lodge | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | MON Cabaret Workshop Performance at Berkshire Music School | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Vinyl Soul Night at Thistle & Mirth | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Marc Black's History of the '50s & '60s at Berkshire Athenaeum | THU The Picky B's at Mission


SAT Visit with Santa at The Beacon Cinema
Visit with Santa at the Beacon Cinema as part of the Downtown Pittsfield Festive Frolic! This is a family event where children can have their photo taken with Santa by a professional photographer! In exchange, please donate a brand-new, unwrapped item to the Berkshire Community Action Council's Warm Clothing Program. See website for list of needed itemsIf you are unable to bring an item, a donation of $5 will be accepted by BCAC volunteers. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
FRI WeeMuse Adventures at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI Screening of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees SAT Festive Frolic Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT WeeMuse Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT FREE Kids' Crafts at Peace Train Tees SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum | SAT Make Holiday Ornaments at Berkshire Paint & Sip SAT We Can Be Heroes at Berkshire Museum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum SUN Billy Budd in the Breadbox Audio Book Launch at Arrowhead | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's MON Tiny Tots Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Dungeons & Dragons at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE WeeMuse Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Graphic Novel Book Club at Berkshire Athenaeum WED WeeMuse Parent/Child STEM at Berkshire Museum THU Preschool Play & Learn at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Club at Berkshire Athenaeum


SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Salve at BYDF
Join Amanda Marsh for a Restorative Yoga with CBD class at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness. You will be guided into a deeply relaxing restorative yoga flow, blending supported yoga postures, breathing techniques, and cannabis-infused salve to encourage letting go fully into each yoga posture. 5:30-7 p.m. $25 for the class and $65 for the class and salve. 
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit SUN Restorative Yoga w/Massage at Radiance Yoga | MON Common Yoga at Zion Lutheran Church | MON Let's Keep It Moving at Knesset Israel


SAT+ A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Revel in the joy and redemptive power of A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with holiday carols and the wonderment of the season. $29/$39. A sensory-friendly performance will be held held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
FRI-SUN Gingerbread House Contest at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Holiday Craft Fair, Cookie Walk & Tag Sale at Zion Lutheran Church | SAT Lyme Alliance Meeting at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT-SUN Cop on Top 10th Anniversary at Walmart SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage | SUN Brunch w/Genna & Jess at Dottie's | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's | SUN Jazz Brunch at Hotel on North | SUN Berkshire Concert Choir at Berkshire Museum | SUN Hilltown Choral Society Holiday Concert at Zion Lutheran Church | SUN FREE Eagles Band Holiday Concert at First United Methodist | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Open Swim at Gladys Allen Brigham Center | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Holiday Market at Dottie's


TUE Paint "Holiday Pittsfield Park" at Paint & Sip
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