DALTON -- Berkshire Carousel is on the move again.
Organizers of the volunteer-driven project are eyeing a former Crane stationery factory in Dalton as the potential home for the proposed $2.2 million amusement ride and amenities. It's the third location in less than a year that the group has considered for the construction of a self-contained, year-round attraction.
"We hope Berkshire Carousel can land here," said Steven Sears, the building's owner, during a presentation Monday night before the Dalton Select Board. "It would be good for the town."
Sears said the smokestack and boiler room of the 100,000-square-foot building would be torn down to make room for the carousel -- rent free. He sees the merry-go-round as a catalyst to attract tenants to his downtown revitalization effort.
Since last fall, the carousel's board of directors had seriously considered locating the attraction at the Berkshire Mall and private land fronting Laston Park -- both in Lanesborough -- but none of those plans have worked out. Now the nonprofit group wants to include the carousel as part of a privately funded redevelopment of the former Crane facility on Flansburg Avenue, according to Berkshire Carousel Director Maria Caccaviello.
The five-member board embraced both the carousel project and concept of redeveloping a vacant factory.
"I think you have the overwhelming enthusiastic support of the board," said Chairman John Boyle. "I see this as a real economic engine for the town."
Dalton is the third community carousel officials have considered since the project was conceived in the mid-2000s.
Initially, the carousel was planned to be housed in a year-round facility along with a gift shop and cafe on a vacant lot near downtown Pittsfield.
However, last October, the board announced its plans to operate the merry-go-round at the mall -- where volunteers have been putting the finishing touches on the horses and other parts of the attraction. Later, the site was changed to a self-contained building on land next Lanesborough's Laston Park on Route 7. In June, annual town meeting voters in Lanesborough authorized the town to borrow $ 500,000 toward the cost of the structure -- if it was eventually built in town.
The loan -- to be repaid entirely by the carousel group -- would have been combined with a $500,000 state grant, with carousel organizers to raise the remaining $200,000 to pay for the building.
But that plan was dropped due to wetlands issues, Caccaviello said.
Lanesborough Board of Selectmen Chairman John Goerlach said he's "disappointed" Berkshire Carousel may head elsewhere.
Unlike the Laston Park plan, carousel officials aren't asking for any financial support from the town.
"We wouldn't be coming to the taxpayers and asking for assistance," project volunteer Mark Siegars told the Dalton Select Board.
Afterward, Caccaviello noted her group will form a steering committee to raise the necessary $750,000 that would be coupled with the $500,000 state grant to cover construction of the carousel's home.
Since 2008, more than 300 women and men have spent thousands of hours creating the 32 wooden horses, one donkey, two chariots, 14 rounding boards and other handcrafted items that will adorn the privately funded attraction.
Berkshire Carousel project organizers already have raised the $1 million to build the ride itself, which is at least a month away from being assembled, according to Caccaviello.
Once volunteers wrap up work on the two chariots and replacement horses, they will begin to attach all their handiwork to the 85-year-old carousel frame and mechanism being refurbished in Ohio.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.