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The splash pad at Clapp Park reopened this week after repairs to damage caused by vandalism over the winter.

Pittsfield Opens Splash Pads After Repairs to Wintertime Vandalism

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Splash pads at the Common and Clapp Park were operational just in time for this week's summer heat wave. This comes after vandals stripped "major components" needed to operate the facilities during the winter.

Both were switched on Tuesday morning.

"The major components of the splash pad were vandalized, so the copper was stripped out of the control rooms not only at the Common and Clapp Park, but also at Durant Park and some of the Little League fields," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath told the Parks Commission that evening.

"So we had a major problem over the wintertime."

The facilities are operational from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Turning them on is as simple as pressing a button and immersing yourself in the cool water.

"We look forward to the community coming back and enjoying those splash pads on these hot days that are in front of us and for the duration of the summer," McGrath said.

He reported that when the copper was stolen out of the Clapp Park restrooms, it was done in a way that damaged the underground piping.

"They need to jackhammer up the floors so that's happening this week. Those bathrooms will be online hopefully within two weeks," he said.

McGrath explained that the damage was "extensive" and the payout for the person who stole the components was far less than the cost of the repairs so it is "really disproportionate and unfortunate and sad and all of those things."

The building maintenance department does not want to see this happen again and is advancing new ideas for protecting the buildings it oversees in the parks.

During a "Summer of Safety" press conference with the Berkshire County District Attorney's Office earlier that day, Mayor Peter Marchetti reported a "ton of vandalism in a lot of our parks." He said the city is working on multiple plans to ramp up security.

"Basically with our pipings, so when you destroy the piping and water can't travel from place A to place B, we can't turn the water on at the splash pad," he said.

DA Timothy Shugrue was glad to hear this, explaining "You drive by and anybody can see that it's just a wonderful facility, it's another gem that the city of Pittsfield has."

In February, the city posted on social media asking that community members report suspicious activity after two parks were vandalized and ransacked. It was reported that Clapp Park, located on West Housatonic Street, and the Common on First Street experienced acts of vandalism that included destruction of the bathroom fixtures and the control room.

Copper was taken from both locations. The metal is commonly stolen and sold for profit.

"Both parks are vital resources to our community. We are devastated that this activity has taken place and are going to try our best to have things repaired in time for spring," the Facebook post read.

"However, we have a lot of work ahead to have bathroom facilities and splash pads available in these two locations."

The city had to obtain replacement parts and pipes to properly operate the bathrooms and splash pads.  It also had to purchase, repair, and install new doors, locks, toilets, sinks, dispensers, and mirrors in the buildings.  

In other water recreation news, lifeguards will return to Burbank Park at Onota Lake. There is a staff of five lifeguards pending background checks and the beach area will be staffed Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning mid-July and running through the end of August.

Due to staffing shortages, there were no lifeguards last year and the beach was solely swim at your own risk.

"That's an exciting new thing this summer," Recreation and Special Events Coordinator Maddy Brown said.

"We've been working really hard on that. I started having conversation in January of this year so it's been a battle just to get to this point so I'm excited to be able to offer that."

Tags: outdoor recreation,   public parks,   vandalism,   

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Safety Solutions Proposed for Berkshire Mall Intersection

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A speed bump and traffic mirror have been proposed at the reportedly problematic intersection of Old State Road and the Berkshire Mall entrance.
Last week, abutters approached the Select Board with concerns about drivers ignoring stop signs and speeding through the area. Target owns its building and is the lone business left on the property.   
"When you turn into Old State Road, our driveways are right there," Judy Bennett said. "Nobody stops, nobody slows down to come around that corner. They go faster and that's where someone is going to get hurt."
Carl Bennett added, "We are taking our lives into our own hands when we pull out during the day."
The Old State Road bridge connects the mall and Old State Road to Route 8. Abutter Pauline Hunt would like to see it closed entirely, making the Connector Road the access point from Route 8.
"That entrance isn't necessary," she said.
"It's chaos. There's an entrance over by the bike path that would serve everybody, there would be no problem, and there are lights at the end of it, it's a dream to get into there. I don't see the reason that chaos is there."
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