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Toy Library Coming to Pittsfield's Onota Lake

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Wahconah High senior plans to build a toy library at Onota Lake Beach to foster community and benefit kids.

On Tuesday, the Park Commission supported Alexandra Bills' toy library proposal as part of her National Honors Society individual service project.  She hopes to see it come to fruition by April, utilizing donated materials and the help of her father for construction.

"I wanted to create a toy library like the other examples in Berkshire County from the sled library to the book libraries," she explained. "But I wanted to make it toys for Onota Lake because a lot of kids forget their toys or some kids can't afford toys."

She proposed that it be located on the right side of the staircase at the public beach.  The student will ask a local company to donate lumber for the project, build it with her father who has carpentry experience, and have friends and family members provide toys to fill it.

"I would be checking on it weekly if not daily in the summer to pick up toys," she added. "But there also will be a sign to have 'pick a toy, leave a toy, please pick up after yourself’ so kids can also learn that as well."

Members of the National Honor Society, which is one of the longest-standing and most recognized co-curricular student organizations in the U.S., must fulfill a community service requirement to participate.

Bills pointed out that there will be no rough edges on the structure and it will be child-height so they can access it.  The library will sit on a sturdy surface such as pavers, be affixed to a structure so that it stays in place, and will be stored during the winter time.

Late last year, a sled library was OKed for Clapp Park and came to fruition soon after.  Lending libraries are said to be popular pieces of pubic infrastructure that benefit the community.

"I think it’s an awesome idea," Commissioner Simon Muil said, pointing to the success of the sled library.

There was a question of liability if there were water toys in the library and Bills clarified that there would be toys like frisbees, balls, and sand toys— not floatation devices.

In other news:

  • The commission voted to change its meeting time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The bid for the restoration of Springside Pond was awarded to William. J. Keller and Sons Construction and work will begin in the late spring or early summer.  Plans include sediment removal, dam repair, an elevated boardwalk, and a paved path for accessibility, and are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The bid for the Taconic High School track was awarded to Mountain View Landscapes and it will be fully reconstructed this spring.


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Pittsfield Woman Dies After Being Rescued From Structure Fire

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The woman who was rescued when her home caught fire on Monday has died. 
The Berkshire District Attorney's Office confirmed on Tuesday that Susan Steenstrup, 67, died after she was pulled from the blaze at 1 Marlboro Drive. The cause of death has not been confirmed.
Steenstrup was found on the second-floor by firefighters who responded to the blaze at about 6:45 p.m. She was taken by County Ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center. 
The two-story, 1930s home is coned off and shows signs of the emergency response such as a broken front window where crews entered to rescue Steenstrup. The fire was reported to have spread from the kitchen and a cause has not yet been determined.
Steenstrup was the only occupant at the time. The home had been in her family since at least the 1960s. 
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