PITTSFIELD -- An inspection of the Columbus Avenue parking garage has led to the planned temporary closure of the top level of the facility.
In a release issued Tuesday, Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said the ramp area and top level of the two-level garage will be temporarily closed off, beginning Saturday, Aug. 9, as a precaution after inspectors noted that repair work done in 2005 was expected to extend the life span of the garage for 10 years.
"While [engineering consultants Desman Associates] did not state we had to close the ramp and top level immediately, it is important for us to err on the side of safety rather than expose citizens to undo risk. I appreciate the public's understanding. Desman Associates does support our decision to close the two sections of the garage until a more detailed structural analysis is completed on Monday [August 11th]."
Bianchi said the bottom level of the Columbus Avenue garage will be open and is considered safe to use.
He said he has spoken with Sen. Ben Downing. D-Pittsfield, in an effort to hasten the release of $6 million in state funds earmarked for the Columbus Avenue garage. On Monday, Downing, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, and Bianchi sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick and transportation officials, the mayor said, "making an urgent request for a release of no less than $6 million in order to either repair or fully replace the Columbus Avenue garage."
City Director of Maintenance Peter Sondrini said the renovated McKay Street garage and Lot 1 on Melville Street will help alleviate the strain on permitted parking while the Columbus Avenue facility is partially closed.
In total, 156 permitted parking spots will be affected. More detailed plans to accommodate those who park in the permitted city spots are on the city's website, http://www.cityofpittsfield.org/docs/Parking.pdf.
It is important to note that the condition survey was separate from the recently completed parking survey, officials said.
Options for permitted parking:
• Open roof spots in the McKay Street garage: Those planning to park on the roof of the McKay Street garage must come to the office of Public Works, located in City Hall, to get swipe passes to get into the garage. Permit stickers for the Columbus garage will be honored on the roof of the McKay street garage.
• Lot 1, Melville Street: Lot 1, across from the Boys and Girls Club on Melville Street, is an alternative parking area for those who normally park on the ramp or top deck.
• Bottom level, Columbus Avenue: 30 spots on the west side (with the fire station) of public parking in the Columbus Avenue garage will temporarily be turned into permitted parking spaces.
The ramp and deck will be closed beginning Saturday morning, Aug. 9.
Key steps for those who park in the permitted parking spots:
1. Look on the city website at the parking maps, www.cityofpittsfield.org, to determine the most convenient place to park
2. If planning to park in the McKay Street garage, starting on Wednesday, Aug. 6, go to the office of Public Works to pick up a swipe card in order to gain access to the garage.