Saturday July 14, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- Town Hall staff say they will better tend to a variety of minor issues at town parks, after members of the Parks Commission this week publicly expressed frustration over a lack of maintenance.

At Monday’s Select Board meeting, commission members Stephen Bannon and Karen Smith said there had been a lack of action on a variety of sites in town.

Addressing the issue at a Select Board meeting may not have been the best way to handle it, Bannon said on Wed nesday, but response to commission concerns has been "very slow in coming."

"We want the parks to be top notch and we want it to be done in a very reasonable time," said Bannon.

Bannon cited potholes, fencing and inadequate sand levels at Lake Mansfield beach. (The beach sand has since been delivered.)

In recent weeks, there have also been two incidents of vandalism of portable toilets at Memorial Field on Bridge Street. Commission members expressed concern with the level of patrolling at the area.

Commission members met with Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell on Wednesday to discuss some of these issues, and Smith said she has received assurances the issues will be attended to going forward.

O’Donnell said the issues with Memorial Field predate his tenure as town manager, but he checked the police logs and found the area is regularly patrolled. O’Donnell said he talked to the department and there will be an added focus on patrolling the area during the afternoon hours when it’s used the most.

"The police department has been out there," said O’Don nell. "They’ll be out there more often."

Department of Public Works Superintendent Joseph Sokul took the blame for the maintenance issues.

"It’s follow up from our end," said Sokul. "I got busy, some things got missed and I’ll take the blame for that and make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Bannon said the frustration wasn’t a "shot at Joe," and the general care of the parks is fine. But Sokul said he understand where commission members are coming from.

"They do a tremendous job with the Parks Commission," said Sokul. "They’re looking out for their asset, so I need make sure I look out for that asset, too."

To reach Trevor Jones:
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