PITTSFIELD -- The state has ponied up additional grant money to ensure the final phase of the First Street Common overhaul is completed.

Pending City Council acceptance tonight, Pittsfield will receive $144,000 from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to help cover the $2 million price tag for improvements and several amenities such as a splash park for children and performance pavilion.

The council holds its regular July meeting at 7 tonight in City Hall.

Originally the state awarded a $1.77 million grant late last year toward phases 3 & 4, but coupled with $196,000 in city funds, the available money fell short, according to city officials.

Pittsfield Community Development Director Douglas Clark said the extra state funds will pay for part of the $1.96 million contract the city awarded to a local contractor to wrap up the overall $4.6 million project that began five years ago.

"The state was nice enough to scare up enough money to cover the contingency," Clark said on Monday. "The foundation for the performance shed and bathroom are well on their way."

By year's end, Burke Construction is expected to complete the majority of the upgrade that includes the pavilion, new bathrooms, refurbished basketball court, gazebo and splash park for youngsters during the hot summer months.

Since 2010, Pittsfield city funds have augmented several grants under the Gateway Cities Park Program to pay for multi-year park rehabilitation project. Phase 1, completed in the summer of 2011, included new paved pathways, lighting, children's playground area, and a promenade with ample seating and new lighting along First Street. Two years later as part of the second phase, the Common's Great Lawn was reconstructed, with new walkway, drainage and shade trees added to the park.

City officials view the substantial improvements to the park as key to creating a stronger connection to the downtown residential and commercial community, as well as a boost to the cultural scene.

"Performing arts will occur in the park and we already have Shakespeare in the Park scheduled to perform there next year," Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said. "It will also serve as a great entertainment venue for many other musical and theatrical groups."

To reach Dick Lindsay:

rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 496-6233