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Pittsfield Suns Cancel Season

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There will be no Suns baseball at Wahconah Park this summer.
Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath told the Parks Commission on Wednesday that he recently received a letter from the Pittsfield Suns stating that the team will not participate in the 2020 season.
"There will be no baseball through the Pittsfield Suns at Wahconah Park this summer," he said. 
McGrath said although the league in which the Suns are a part of has not yet cancelled its season, the Suns management felt it would be too difficult to comply with the phased regulations.
"They thought it was too much of an uphill climb to play at Wahconah Park with all of the guidelines in terms of the concession stand and spectators," he said.  
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suns were working out a new lease agreement with the city. 
The pandemic has also put a pause on other park projects. With so much uncertainty around the municipal budget, the city has pulled, for the time being, a capital budget. 
"It is not to say that there won't be a capital budget at some point but I think the administration just wanted to get the operating budget off the ground and approved," he said.
The dog park project, although at 100 percent design, has been put on hold without a city share of the funding available.
This is also the case for the skate park that is still nearing design completion.
"They are in a holding pattern until city funds can be allocated," he said.
 But some projects are moving right along and the West Side Riverway is nearing completion.
"The project is moving right along quickly and the park is really shaping up," he said.
He suspects it will be complete June 30.
McGrath said the Clapp Park project is also nearing completion. A backstop has to be installed and electricity provided to the park.
He touched on the further opening of the parks and said with no one applying for the seasonal labor positions, staff will be stretched when properly sanitizing playground equipment, bathrooms, and the splash pads that should be turned on in July.
"We just can't find help. We are not sure what is happening but it is impacting our ability to maintain the parks," he said.
State guidelines ask that all playgrounds and other park utilities be sanitized daily. He said the plan was to hire four people who solely did this but with staffing restrictions, everything will likely only be sanitized once every two weeks.
He said signs will be placed in the parks informing park users.
For bathrooms, porta johns had been considered along with having a vendor clean them daily but this was far too expensive.
In general, the parks staff is very capable and doing the best they can stretched thin, McGrath said, but there will be difficulties maintaining the parks.
He did not know specifically why no one applied for these summer positions but noted the pay is on the lower side. McGrath said he would keep the commission abreast of the situation.

Tags: baseball,   parks commission,   Wahconah Park,   

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Pittsfield City Council to Discuss Homeless Solutions

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday sent a group of petitions regarding the city's homeless population to the subcommittee on Public Health and Safety.
The three petitions ask officials to consider measures to safeguard the homeless and begin a conversation about homelessness within the city limits.
"I am glad we are having this discussion, and I look forward to hearing it," Councilor at Large Peter White said. "This has been an issue here for a long time and having people live in the park is not a long terms solution."
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