PITTSFIELD -- By year's end, the city expects to complete more than half of the estimated $4.6 million redevelopment of the First Street Common.
A local excavation contractor, DR Billings Inc. of Lanesborough, got underway with Phase 2 of the four-part project nearly three years ago. The area under construction has been fenced in to allow the playground, basketball court and other aspects of the 130-year-old park to remain open during the latest work, according to city officials.
"We're re-grading the open space, putting in new walkways and installing the Great Lawn," said Douglas Clark, Pittsfield's community development director. "We'll get the bulk of [Phase 2] done this construction season with some turf restoration in the spring."
Other improvements include new drainage piping and structures, 30 new shade trees and electrical work designed to improve the park's lighting for safety and security reasons.
A combination of local and state money will pay the $925,000 cost of completing the second phase. The breakdown includes $500,000 in city capital funds, a $400,000 state grant received late last year and $25,000 leftover from the project's initial phase.
The $1.7 million first phase, which included $250,000 in city taxpayer dollars, began in November 2010 and was completed in May. Completion of The Common's entire upgrade hinges on when state funding is available.
Meanwhile, city officials are seeking another $400,000 state grant toward the estimated $600,000 price tag attached to Phase 3. The grant application is due next month to the Department of Conservation Services PARC Program, the same Massachusetts funding source used for Phase 2.
Clark says $200,000 in city money has been set aside for the next phase.
"We'll have a gazebo, accessible restrooms, relocation of the basketball court and lighting of the pathways," he said.
The restoration and upgrade of The Common began with the construction of a concrete promenade at the park's entrance, new traffic signals at the intersection of First and Eagle streets, a new playground, fences and retaining walls. In addition, a new and expanded city skateboard park was relocated to the former tennis courts located at the corner of Appleton Avenue and East Street, across from Pittsfield High School.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.