PITTSFIELD — The opening of the new Woodlawn Avenue railroad bridge in late June has provided public access through the William Stanley Business Park from north to south for the first time in a decade.
The Pittsfield Economic Development Authority, charged with the 52-acre site's development, hasn't wasted any time in taking advantage of that opportunity.
On Wednesday, PEDA held the first of three open house events that included guided tours designed to provide the public with a firsthand look at the layout of the park's nine building sites.
"Obviously, we wanted to take the opportunity to make the community aware of all the sites available at the Stanley Business Park," said PEDA's Executive Director Cory Thurston before the first tour. "Now that the bridge is done, which has really been an impediment to do comfortable tours, we decided that this was a good opportunity to do this."
The opening of the bridge also coincides with the renewed interest in the Williams Stanley Business Park based on the yet-to-be built Berkshire Innovation Center and a proposal to construct a Walmart Supercenter in two of the available lots.
"There's no question that it couples with the fact that there's been renewed interest in the park since the Walmart project had been proposed (in June)," Thurston said. "The innovation center is in the works. It's amazing that a lot of people still aren't sure where these (structures) are physically located."
The four people who participated in Wednesday's first of two scheduled tours, walked from PEDA's headquarters building on Kellogg Street to Woodlawn Avenue, then crossed the bridge spanning the CSX Railroad before returning to Kellogg Street.
All of PEDA's building sites are visible from the top of the bridge.
"People lose track of how big this thing is until they get down here," said PEDA board chairman Maurice "Mick" Callahan, who accompanied Thurston on the first tour.
Barbara Osborne and Donna Rochelo, two of the first tour's participants, said they were impressed with the location of the building sites, and the way they were spread throughout the 52-acre property.
"I had no idea how many and how well laid out they are," said Osborne.
"I thought they were just plopped (down)," added Rochelo.
Osborne is a Realtor with Bishop West Real Estate in Adams who served as president of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors in 2013.
"We do business in Berkshire County and I think it's important to promote it to all the people in the area," said Osborne, referring to the Stanley Business Park."
Osborne said she believed a proposal to place a Walmart Supercenter on the Stanley Business Park's biggest site would enhance the community.
The 16.5 acre lot that interests Walmart, commonly known as "the teens," is located on the north side of the bridge. Tour participants were able to get a closer look at that parcel, which is covered with 18 different building foundations, than any other due to its proximity to the bridge.
The developers of the Walmart proposal have yet to file plans with the city, but Thurston said preliminary plans have the 190,000-square-foot structure fronting on Woodlawn Avenue and backing up to buildings owned by General Electric that are located on the parcel's eastern border.
"It would be a typical Walmart," said Thurston, referring to the Supercenter building, "only it would be by itself."
PEDA's two other open house events are scheduled to take place between 4 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31 and Wednesday, Sept. 14.
Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 496-6224.