Letter: This Issue Is Not Biking, It Is Springside

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To the Editor:

Here are a few of many points to consider in the discussion about irrevocably damaging Springside Park for the self-interest of a tiny minority, as opposed to the entire public, and the trust they have in the city to maintain this unique park for all people as free open space. What the PR pundits tell us is not the real story, it is a Trojan horse for the invasion of the park, and once lost it can not be regained.

1) As founder of the Friends of Springside in 1990 with Mary Ann Knight, I feel the current mountain bike proposal is wrong for this 112-year-old park, a natural, undisturbed, free, open space for all. It now has about half the tree species of our region and is known for its diversity of birds, mammals, plant life, wetlands, and terrain in the heart of Pittsfield, rare in an urban location.

2) Such a restricted use activity will have the gravest impact on its fragile habitats, an unprecedented nature's classroom, and a top priority of the park's master plan as well as community education programs for the city's schools.

3) Mountain biking already is taking place in spacious conservation sites in Pittsfield such as Kirvin, Burbank, and Brattlebrook, not to mention the Pittsfield State Forest's 11,000 acres, and October Mountain State Forest's 16,460 acres, venues that provide all the necessary ingredients, allow easy access, and not sacrifice the surrounding environment. Why then invade Springside?

4) What specific structures — metal, synthetics, paving — will be built; what is the actual space required, as opposed to promotional "estimates?" How will people access the course; where will they park? This will involve dredging more land for a blacktopped course, access road, and parking lot close to the site, further poisoning the park ecosystems and beauty. Will there be approvals for such construction in accordance with state and federal law? It is easy to see a prohibitive cost with an ultimate agenda of taking over the entire park, as was the case with the 1990 golf course, 2003 soccer fields, and other proposals.

5) The reality is that the vast majority of biking in the park will be adult races and people who will abuse and vandalize the park even further, just as has happened at the mounded area near Garland Avenue for two decades. To state that its location at Springside is for access by low-income groups is misleading, since low-income children and adults, as everyone, already do engage and benefit from the undisturbed nature of Springside.

6) Issues of construction, maintenance, security, future funding, permits, and vandalism are not solved with PR images and political maneuvers; they remain unknown and the result will be the devastation of Springside.

7) As is the case across the country, there is well-documented evidence of mountain biking damage at Burbank, the State Forest, and October Mountain, where existing nature trails are ruined and new illegally-constructed bike trails destroy the landscape. Motorcycles, ATVs, and electric mountain bikes are already being used throughout the park as a direct result of the wrongly approved and "constructed" trails since 2012.

8) We must confront this intrusion and deny any use of the park for mountain biking or similar restricted-use disruptive activity. Do we as a city want to turn every park into yet another sports complex? Or do we value something more: a place of reflection and connection with nature, others, and oneself, giving us our full humanity, Springside's gift to us all.

Royal Hartigan
Pittsfield, Mass.

Plans for the pump, or skills, track at Springside was approved last year by the Parks Commission. The design can be seen here


Tags: bicycling,   

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City of Pittsfield Enacts Water Usage Restrictions

PITTSFIELD, Mass.  – With a fast-increasing depletion of the water supply at the Pittsfield Cleveland Reservoir, the city of Pittsfield’s Department of Public Services and Utilities has enacted a State of Water Supply Conservation to ensure an adequate supply of water for fire protection and emergency response effective Monday, Aug. 8.
The action, which falls under the city’s Stage 2 Drought Management Plan, implements mandatory water restrictions.
Restricted activities include outside water use in general, watering lawns and  gardens, washing vehicles, and filling swimming pools. These activities are only permitted before 7  a.m. and after 7 p.m. and are limited to alternate days. Addresses ending in even numbers may water on even days of the month. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on odd days of the month.
These  restrictions will be enforced by the Department of Public Services and Utilities and will include fines for violations. These include a written warning for the first violation; a $50 fine for the second violation; and $300 for subsequent violations.
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