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Springside House Renovation Still Underway

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Projects in the city's parks are moving ahead despite not having a capital allotment this year. 
Parks and Open Space Manager James McGrath told the Parks Commission that projects at Springside House are well underway 
"We may need to tap into other funds but that is not something we are unfamiliar with," he said.
With COVID-19 sending the budget process into a tailspin this spring, the City Council passed a level budget for fiscal 2021 at the expense of cutting the a capital budget.
McGrath said although work continues on the Springside, there is only about $300,000 left to continue work on the $1 million project.
He said there are other grant opportunities, however, many of these will require matching funds. He said either way they are being mindful of costs.
"There will be some concessions made around what we can do in the house to keep the budget appropriate but we also have to be mindful that this is our one shot to restore the house," McGrath said.
He added that with any renovation project, new costs can appear as it goes further. He said the department is doing what it can to make sure costs don't "spiral out of control."
Springside dates to 1850 when it was built as "Elmhurst." It became part of the city's parks system in the late 1930s and housed the Parks & Recreation Department for nearly 50 years until that department was eliminated in 2007. 
But at the moment, the project is moving along and McGrath said the exterior work is nearly complete with only some painting and carpentry work to wrap up.
The goal is now toward hazardous abatement throughout the entire house and then to interior renovations.
"The house is ready for a full interior renovation," he said.
He said carpeting has come up on the first and second floor to expose surprisingly nice wood flooring.
"It has revealed really good looking flooring throughout the house so we are working with a historic planner and architect on the historic analysis," he said. "Once we have that narrative we will send it to Mass Historic and then we can really understand how we are going to arrange the interior of the house and what historic elements we want to keep."
He invited commissioners to tour the house in the near future.
"The interior has revealed quite a story," he said. "We are knee-deep in this Springside House and it definitely has a future life that we are really excited about."
McGrath did say other projects are moving along is planned and the hope is to have the West Side Riverway Park and Clapp Park wrapped up by Labor Day.
He said electricity is set to be turned on at Clapp Park in the coming weeks, which means splash pad can be tested.
Also, the Skate Park Phase Two design should be wrapped up in the coming weeks. McGrath said great efforts have been made to keep the project under the $250,000 budget and he hopes to be able to go out to bid this fall.
"I really would like to get the project bid and under construction this fall," he said. "I really want to move into 2021 with a fully built skate park." 

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Pittsfield School Officials Affirm Decision on Braves' Replacement

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee affirmed its decision to replace the Taconic mascot on Wednesday.
A vote on Wednesday was taken to clarify the procedure in accepting and then filing a petition two weeks ago from a group of citizens who are against changing the name from the Braves. 
"I think we are wading here into a parliamentary morass," committee member William Cameron said. "The point of the vote has been lost sight of as we struggle to find words to satisfy those people who won't be satisfied by anything but rescinding the vote." 
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