Monday March 21, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- Skateboaders, bike riders and rollerbladers are weighing in on the design of the city's new skate park expected to open later this year.

They have posted more than 100 suggested features for the proposed recreational facility near Pittsfield High School on the Facebook page, "Friends of Pittsfield Skate Plaza", recently established by a downtown skate and snowboard business.

"A lot of people are sharing ideas and posting pictures of other skate parks," said Chris Wilke, an employee at The Garden on North Street.

Wilke also serves on a steering committee comprised of residents and municipal officials who are developing what the city will likely call a "skate plaza" rather than a skate park.

"That's kind of a progressive term to include more urban features," Wilke said. "It will be very aesthetically pleasing and provide great opportunities for the users."

The Internet input is ahead of next months' first public meeting to discuss plans for the skateboard and bike facility replacing the one removed last fall from the First Street Common. The gathering April 7, 7 p.m. in the Pittsfield High library hosted by the Pittsfield Department of Community Development which is overseeing the project.

City officials expect construction to begin this summer and the project completed by early fall.

A combination of city and state funds totaling $215,000 has been earmarked toward converting the tennis courts at the corner of Appleton and East streets into a skateboard and bike park.


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"We want this to be the premier skate park in Western Massachusetts and make it fit into the neighborhood," said James McGrath, the city's manager of parks and open space.

McGrath expects public input will heavily influence the plans for the "skate plaza," just as was the case in developing the final design for the First Street Common. The downtown park is currently in the early stages of a multi-million dollar facelift.

The new skating facility at 22,500 square feet, will more than double the size of the 10,000-square-foot one that had been proposed for the new-look Common. City officials vowed to relocate the skate park to another city-owned location, after it was left out of the Common's restoration plans.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.