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Parks manager James McGrath and Brent White of White Engineering present the boat wash proposal to the Parks Commission. A map of the area can be seen on the screen.

Parks Commission Supports Boat Wash Proposal at Onota Lake

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Lake Onota Preservation Association (LOPA) is looking to construct a boat wash at Onota Lake to prevent the contamination of zebra mussels.

It will be submitting a co-sponsored application for Community Preservation Act funding in the fall after receiving the approval of the Parks Commission on Tuesday.

Douglas Spoehr of LOPA explained that the goal is to adopt best practices for boaters who have visited other lakes and have known risk factors for zebra mussels by providing them with an opportunity to wash down their boats with high-pressure steam.

The mussels are small freshwater species that have become invasive.

"There are no known predators for zebra mussels," Parks, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said. "And where they have infested water bodies, they're really about the size of your fingernail, they just sort of grow exponentially in a water body."

He added that they also deplete the oxygen in a lake.

At a roughly estimated price tag of about $250,000, the boat wash is planned to be located on the northeastern end of the turnaround off Lakeway Drive near the boat ramp. The driveway would be widened to accommodate vehicles and a small wood-framed shed would be built to house the equipment for the boat wash.

It is said to be a relatively low-impact structure with the ability to connect to municipal water and sewer.

McGrath described it as "one more effort in our toolbox to prevent zebra mussels from Onota Lake."

There have been significant efforts to prevent the invasive species after they were discovered in eastern New York and in Laurel Lake in 2009. If a person pulls into the lake and it is found through a boating history questionnaire that they have been in a risk area, they are sent to a boat wash in west Pittsfield.

With this infrastructure, boaters can be directed to the onsite wash that is operated by boat monitors.

"LOPA is sort of taking the initiative to bring it forwards and as agreed to put together a competitive CPA application for this. There probably will be a need for additional state consideration in funding, so we can seek funds there as well," McGrath said.

"It will be operated by our existing city employees, the boat ramp monitors. Again, there's a little startup, energize the system and then to winterize it. It should be minimal maintenance involved but I think as we begin to develop our proposal for funding consideration, I think there should be a maintenance fund that is part of this that can follow this so that we're not drawing off existing city resources."

The CPA application, of which the amount has not yet been determined, will go through an initial screening process in the fall and there will be a full application in the spring.

In other news, the city plans to bring back its annual Halloween parade that has been canceled the  pst two years due to the pandemic. Oct. 28 has been identified as a tentative date.

The Springside House has also received $500,000 from the federal government and a $500,000 match from the city for interior restoration projects. The hope is to kick off the first part of renovations in the fall.

Tags: boating,   

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Pittsfield School Officials OK Contracts, Gets Diversity Update

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee last week approved memoranda of agreement with three of four bargaining units.
After an executive session, the committee returned to regular session to unanimously endorse new agreements with the cafeteria, paraprofessionals and educational secretary units. 
A fourth, with the bus drivers and attendants, was tabled as committee member Sarah Hathaway commented that "we look forward to approving it when the language is tinkered with a just little bit."
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