BEAT Receives Grant to Renovate Environmental Leadership and Education Center

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Cultural Council has awarded a Cultural Facilities Fund grant of $200,000 to Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) in support of buying and renovating BEAT's new Environmental Leadership & Education Center. 
 
On November 8, 2021, BEAT was able to buy their property at 20 Chapel Street in Pittsfield — right on the banks of the southwest branch of the Housatonic River. 
 
Next, BEAT will be restoring the riverbank by removing invasive species and replanting with native, wildlife-supporting plants. Funding from the Cultural Facilities Fund will allow them to begin renovations to make their building fully accessible by adding an accessible bathroom, a lift to get between floors, and an accessible balcony from which to observe wildlife and the river. 
 
BEAT will also be conducting a deep energy retrofit as an energy efficiency demonstration project to show how an old building (originally built in 1868) can install solar and batteries to go fossil-fuel free. BEAT has been working with local architect Wendy Brown and construction consultant East Branch Studio who estimate the total cost of the building renovations to be $726,505 — so BEAT still has to raise money.
 
"It is so impressive to see how far BEAT has come since I first got involved with the organization," said Logan Malik, the Clean Energy Director at the Massachusetts Climate Action Network and a member of BEAT's Board of Directors. 
 
Malik first started with BEAT as a Program Associate back in 2018. After graduate school, he returned as a full-time Advocacy Coordinator.
 
"This grant will bring us so much closer to realizing the organization's vision for an Environmental Leadership & Education Center in Pittsfield by enabling us to demonstrate how to renovate a building — first built in 1868 — into a fully accessible, net-zero energy, fossil-fuel-free environmental hub for the Berkshire community," he said.
 
BEAT will be holding an Open House Saturday, May 21, from 1 to 3 pm. 
 
"We are excited to show everyone our property as it is now and explain our vision for the future. Everyone is invited, but please note that while we have a ramp into our building, we do not yet have an accessible bathroom,"  Jane Winn, Executive Director said. 
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Pontoosuc Lake Still Under Health Advisory

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local officials are reminding the public that the health advisory issued Sept. 10 regarding a potential harmful cyanobacteria bloom in Pontoosuc Lake is still in effect and continued caution is advised.
 
Although results from analysis of samples taken from the water column are within the acceptable range for all water activities, the presence of an intermittent scum necessitates continuation of the alert.
 
Public health officials from the city of Pittsfield and the town of Lanesborough say they are continuing to monitor the levels of cyanobacteria and recommend that residents exercise caution when using the lake. 
 
The scum potentially has high levels of toxic bacteria and could produce adverse health effects on those swimming or with other close water contact. The toxic scum accumulates on the downwind shore, and therefore can come and go at any location. 
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