Pittsfield Parks Commission Continues to Support Springside Pump Track
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite pushback, the Springside pump track is moving forward.
After being prompted to pause the Springside Park pump track and bike skills facility project until in-person meetings can resume, the Parks Commission unanimously voted to continue with the process and encouraged additional public input.
"I would encourage the community to have faith in us as a commission to do our due diligence and allow all the inputs that we can get and encourage anybody who is in favor or in opposition to this or reach out to us in any white means possible. We will do all we can to do it in a public venue. If something is sent to our commission, it will be included in our public meetings," Chair Anthony DeMartino said.
"But we are still far away from a final decision on this. And I think saying that we are going to pause it and stop it at this time as would not be the right step."
Residents Joseph Koprek, Elizabeth Kulas and Royal Hartigan called into the meeting to express their concern for the project and belief that additional public feedback is required outside of the Zoom platform.
Former Parks Commissioner Gene Nadeau submitted a petition requesting to put a hold on the current proposal, which was co-signed by Koprek, Kulas, and Hartigan among others. Hartigan also submitted an additional letter.
Kulas, who is a member of the Friends of Springside Park, described the historic land as an "unprecedented ecological classroom."
"It's really nature's Wonderland, or I wouldn't be asking that it continue to exist unharmed by any kind of aggressive activity," she said. "I'd like to participate in an objective survey and give you meaningful input, I'd like you to allow us time for that. I'm asking you to table the proposal process for the pump skills course until there can be a full public review and input and live meetings."
Hartigan, who has spoken out against the pump track in the past, believes that the unexpected force of the pandemic has caused the process to be unjust. He cited a "lack" of public information about mountain biking available to the general public and the pandemic causing a lack of accessibility to Parks Commission meetings for members of the public to voice their concerns.
"I feel strongly, as all of us do, that anything as important as the nature of Springside, which is 111-year-old park, and it's actually centuries old, as a natural environment it requires a full consideration, and full process with all people involved, not just the few," he said.
"This can only happen with a number of elements that have not yet taken place. And I want to emphasize this is not the fault of the city or your commission, or anyone because you did not invent COVID, this is a result of the pandemic far beyond your control and making it difficult to have a meaningful process, but I believe there are a number of things that are necessary for true democracy."
Hartigan requested that the commission explore the "number of otherwise unused and excellent options for there to be a pump track in the city" rather than in Springside.
Commissioner Simon Muil said that as an avid mountain biker, he feels that some of the information included in opposing letters is a "character assassination" to the athletic group and is "starting to frustrate them."
He criticized the examples of bike issues cited by the petitioners including hiker and mountain biker conflicts in Barcelona, Spain, and mountain bike trail issues in New South Whales, Australia.
"If people are going to use arguments from other communities against things in our community," he said. "I think that the very least they should be they should be similar to our size communities, not huge metropolitan areas, particularly from other countries and so on because they don't bear relation to the issues we deal with."
The commission is reportedly in a "difficult situation" where it cannot allow the process to just come to halt and has to allow enough avenues for things to continue, members said. DeMartino reiterated that they are able to communicate electronically and that they are "significantly far away" from a final plan.
"For the public who is listening, and anybody who is listening, people who have an interest in this, please reach out to the commission, with your views, your thoughts, via email, phone calls, we want to hear this," he concluded. "But please, public, understand that we have not made a final decision on this project, we have quite a bit of information to gather before this is agreed upon and, hopefully, we will be in a place in time when we can do much of this in person, as our folks would prefer.
"But right now, we'll continue to move it at the pace that we can and when we're ready, we will let the public know."
Tags: biking, Springside Park,