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The Parks Commission reviews responses to a survey about a bike skills course in Springside Park.

Springside Pump Track Survey Shows Support for the Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- A survey seeking community input on the proposed pump track and bike skills park in Springside Park generated about 96 responses in two weeks.

A good majority of the responses were positive, though there was an array of concerns about the project including safety, the pump track's impact on Springside Park, and maintenance.

At a special Jan. 5 Parks Commission meeting for the pump track proposal, it was decided that New England Mountain Bike Association and Berkshire chapter President Alison McGee would solicit community input through an online survey.

This survey looked at what the community thought this project would bring to Springside Park, any concerns they had, and dove into details such as project size, style, and provided space for any other questions.

City staff helped McGee develop the survey and published it publicly on the Pittsfield Parks and Recreation webpage. The survey was also published on Berkshire NEMBA's website and a page was made specifically for the proposed pump track and bike skills park.

"At this point, I'm confident that due diligence was performed and there's been a good cross section of those that have been reached out to from park stakeholders to the ward councilor and others involved in Springside park," Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said. "and I think we've got a good response rate."

McGee reported that she also reached out to city councilors who distributed it to their constituents, especially Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon, so she could reach the people in the immediate area of the proposed project site.

McGee closed the survey so she was able to gather data for this meeting, but left hers and McGrath's emails on the page for further input.

The 96 responses received were from Pittsfield residents, elderly, youth, parents, and Berkshire residents from the larger surrounding area.

McGee said a majority of the feedback was positive and there weren't any specific rejections for the project as a whole in the survey. Right before the meeting, there was a letter of opposition submitted from a founding member of the Friends of Springside Park.

"Overall the questions were really thoughtful and many were related to overall park use and the facilities that surround the park in general," she added.

One question on the survey asked what community members feel this project will contribute to Pittsfield, Springside Park, and the Berkshires.

Ninety-six percent of responses were positive, while four expressed concern. McGee said that overall, 91 percent of survey takers voted in favor of the bike skills park.

People were happy that this project would provide outdoor recreation for all ages, many mentioned they were excited for youth to have a safe and wholesome activity as opposed to negative activities the park has housed in the past, and there were many comments about this project bringing the community together and attracting tourism.

"We're not just providing something that people want to do," McGee said. "We're providing something that people want to contribute to in an ongoing way."

The survey revealed concerns related to maintenance responsibilities, the pump track falling into disrepair, how it will affect the homeless population who reside in Springside Park, safety for riders and accessibility for emergency vehicles, and the environmental impact on its surroundings.

Other concerns were the lack of access to public bathrooms, if there would clear signage with park rules and etiquette posted, and if the project would be overlooked if not visible enough.

McGee noted that Berkshire NEMBA would have a memorandum of understanding with the city that leaves all maintenance in the group's hands.

The next step for this project is for Berkshire NEMBA, Berkshire Mountain Bike Training Series, and the Shire Shredders to work with the city to help respond to survey queries. McGee said she and her team are dedicated to addressing all of the community's concerns and answering any questions.

An official Facebook page was made for the bike skills park where all of the information pertaining to it can be centralized.

Tags: biking,   Springside Park,   

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Berkshires Gets Limited Vaccine Doses; Named 'High-Efficiency Collaborative'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — COVID-19 vaccine shipments expected early last week were delayed because of inclement weather and were smaller than expected, leaving Berkshire County shorthanded. And a "very limited" amount of vaccines was available for appointment first-dose slots on Wednesday.  
"This week, Massachusetts received 139,000 doses," Mayor Linda Tyer said to the City Council on Tuesday. "That's it, we have a million potential new residents who are eligible, but for the week we received 139,000 doses."
Public Health Program Manager Laura Kittross said there is limited access everywhere and doesn't expect this to be an ongoing issue.  She hopes to see additional vaccine allocations later this week and is "certainly hopeful for next week."
On Thursday, there were very limited first-dose clinic at Berkshire Community College from 2 to 5 with 300 appointments available to eligible individuals. The North Adams and Great Barrington vaccination sites will also hold first-dose clinics on Thursday, offering 250 doses each. All of those were gone by late afternoon on Wednesday.
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