Lanesborough Selectmen OK $65K for Temporary Police Station

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen has approved $65,000 to fund a two-year lease for a temporary police building as the Police Station Building Committee continues discussing its concerns with the site of the proposed new station. 


Committee Chair Kristen Tool spoke before the Selectmen on Monday to share the proposed plan for leasing 545 South Main St. after exploring multiple options for a temporary station. The American Rescue Plan Act Fund Committee approved the use of its money for the lease last week


Tool said minimal work, such as replacing a few doors and some carpeting, is needed for the building to be ready for officers. She said this temporary site, which the Police Department will stay in until construction of the new station is finished, saves the town over $115,000 compared to renting a trailer. 


"The property owner has just been really delightful to work with," she said. "He's very excited about the idea of the station being there, the temporary location ... . This is definitely the the best possible option that the committee came across." 


The committee also met on Tuesday to continue discussing the deficiencies of the 8 Prospect St. site. Former Police Chief Timothy Sorrell sought out the original 1934 deed after a discussion in a previous meeting and said a deed restriction stipulates the town use the parcel as a public park. 


Tool suggested someone check with town counsel to determine the possible options for the site. Sorrell and other committee members said this likely has never come up before because the town has not made any significant alterations to the site since 1934. 


"The building, at one point, has been everything," he said. "It was a meeting hall, as far as I know, then it slowly became different things ...  And you can't say the town hasn't been maintaining it as a park, because it's got grass, we grow trees there, flowers on the stumps out front. We've been maintaining it." 


Tool also provided the committee a list of considerations compiled from past discussions, including the parcel's small size, potential zoning issues with a new building, the in-ground gas pumps, parking and needed soil testing. The viability of the property has an ongoing debate for the committee during several meetings, including one with Brian Humes of Jacumsci & Humes Architects


Selectman Gordon Hubbard was in attendance on Tuesday and said he was beginning to understand why the committee has issues with 8 Prospect St. as the new station site. He said the restriction with the deed could cause the town significant problems. 


"If we can't do this, then trying to figure why we shouldn't do it is a moot point. These are the reasons why we maybe shouldn't do it. But if the deed says you can't do it, then who cares?" he said. "The other point is, you could spend a billion dollars and take care of all these things. But is it monetarily appropriate?"

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Pittsfield's Former Polish Club Eyed For $20 Million Condo Project

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With a sizable grant from the state, the former Polish Community Club is eyed for a 40-unit housing development that adds four additional buildings to the property.

On Wednesday, the Affordable Housing Trust heard from developer Robert Shan about the project that could cost as much as $20 million.  Planners are vying for $10 million through the MassHousing CommonWealth Builder Program created to facilitate the construction of single-family homes and condominiums affordable to households with moderate incomes.

"We're looking not just to do a one-off but to have a presence in Pittsfield, a presence in Berkshire County, and look to bring forward attainable and affordable housing to many communities," he said.

"We see this as as as the first step and it's ready to go. We've put a tremendous amount of work into it and we're looking forward to being able to work with you."

While utilizing the former club, the plot at 55 Linden Street would have five buildings of one to three-bedroom condominiums for first-time homebuyers.  The final costs have not yet been determined but it is estimated that a unit for those of the 80 percent area median income will cost between $150,000 and $200,000 and those in between 80 and 100 percent AMI will cost between $190,000 and $250,000.

The proposed condos are single-story units with an entrance from the street with the first-floor units having a private fenced backyard.  The existing building is staged for single-story condos and two-story townhouses.

Planners aim to bring the character of the 1872 structure into the new construction through colors and architectural elements.

"In developing housing for first-time buyers, we wanted a form that all had entries from grade, from outside without common corridors, without elevators to get that feeling of homeownership," Shan explained.

"While we can't afford to build and get these first-time families at the single-family homes, we wanted a hybrid product that really felt and operated like a home where a lot of the units have backyards, is its own community, etc. So in that, we have not maximized the density."

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