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The reconstruction of the 1919 Wahconah Park took its next step with the selection of a designer.

Wahconah Park Committee Recommends Designer

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The reimagining of historic Wahconah Park is one step closer with a designer being put forth to the city. 

The park's restoration committee on Wednesday recommended S3 Design Inc. for the job after the firm scored highest against two competitors.

The recommendation will go to Mayor Linda Tyer and then to the Parks Commission, who will communicate the vote back to the purchasing agent so that they can ask for a scope and price proposal.

The Braintree company proposed a workshop-based process to assist the owner's project manager Skanska USA, the committee, and the city with the project. It includes a feasibility study with four phases of workshops, a schematic design, bidding and the award, and the construction administration.

Last week, a subcommittee interviewed three firms and was most impressed with S3 Design's presentation, though all were seen as good contenders.

"All of them brought substantial experience, they brought multiple team members with extensive experience and proposal plans for floodwater management as well as stadium design and alternate uses, different revenue streams, different park plans and amenities that they have done. They showed projects that were at least of similar scope and size to this," member Anthony DeMartino explained.

"Each of these two did have a plan and articulated a pretty good plan in regards to a building consensus and from the public, listening to public input and, listening to stakeholder input, and being sensitive to the city's situation not just financially but just in the scope of the project,"

"The S3 group did that significantly better."

DeMartino liked that the firm wanted to meet immediate and future needs and its plan to evaluate the importance of all design aspects.

Based on other niche projects that S3 Design has worked on, the ballpark cost is about $10 million to $15 million.

Reportedly most of the firms speculated that rebuilding the facility may be cheaper than renovating but would rely on the feasibility study to determine that.

The city has secured about $5 million for the endeavor so far.

"Currently there's a $2 million capital appropriation from the past fiscal year and the City Council just authorized the acceptance of a $3 million earmark grant," Parks, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath.

"So there's $5 million available right now. We're spending some of that down for expenses associated with the OPM Skanska and of course, we will negotiate a contract with the selected designer and will begin incurring costs there."

The OPM The team anticipates the design being complete by February or March of next year and bidding and work by August of 2024 after the Pittsfield Sun's season. This would result in a new ballpark that is open for use by the summer of 2025.

Four proposals were received in response to an RFP and three including S3 were accepted for interviews: Bargmann Hendrie and Archetype Inc. and Clough, Harbour & Associates.

The panel queried the firms on the costs, options to generate additional revenue at the park, seating, future appearance, flooding issues, and the schedule.  

The recommendation to the mayor was ranked in priority with S3 Design first, CHA second, and BH&A third.

McGrath said a single-topic Parks Commission meeting may be called to endorse the recommendation after it comes back from the mayor so that a contract can be underway.

"We are already a couple of weeks behind schedule and time is of the essence with this," he said. "So we want to proceed swiftly and efficiently but responsibly."

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DA Clears Trooper in Fatal Hancock Shooting

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says the results of an autopsy by the medical examiner will not change his findings, which are based on the video and witnesses. With him are State Police Lts. Chris Bruno and Ryan Dickinson and First Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney Timothy Shugrue has determined that State Police Trooper William Munch acted in compliance during what is being described as a "suicide by cop" earlier this month.
On Sept. 9, 64-year-old Phillip Henault reportedly placed a fictitious 911 call about an ongoing violent assault. Body-camera footage from the trooper shows the man advancing on him with two knives before being shot twice and collapsing in the street in front of his Richmond Road residence.
"Mr. Henault was actively using deadly force against law enforcement. There were no other objectively reasonable means that the trooper could have employed at the time in order to effectively protect himself and anyone that was in the home or the public. By virtue of his duties as a police officer, the trooper did not have the obligation to run away from Mr. Henault," Shugrue said during a press conference on Friday.
"Mr. Henault posed an active threat to the trooper and to the public. The trooper had a duty to arrest Mr. Henault who was engaged in various felonies. His arm was an active threat."
The DA determined that Munch's decision to fire his weapon at Henault under the circumstances was a "lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others" compliance with the policies of the State Police and commonwealth law, clearing the trooper of criminal charges and closing the investigation.
The lethal force was labeled as an "unavoidable last resort."
A preliminary autopsy determined the unofficial cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the torso with contributing factors of wounds to the wrists that were inflicted by Heneault. The final report from the medical examiner has not been issued.
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