PITTSFIELD -- The plan to install a multi-sport turf field facility at Berkshire Community College has reached its next big step.

Berkshire Community College has retained EDM Services Inc. to oversee design, engineering and permit work that will lead to the current soccer fields being transformed into a turf facility. Various groups involved with the project, along with BCC, have raised $80,000 to this point to "kick off" the work EDM will supervise, according to Mike MacDonald, the unofficial coordinator of the group pushing for the facility's construction.

"We needed site plans ... but we also needed to know what permits were required," BCC President Ellen Kennedy said recently. "We couldn't find out without doing this step."

The process will involve putting an engineering team in place, handling civil and environmental issues and coordinating a schedule, according to EDM President Ronald Griffin.

He added that EDM's role is more managerial at this point.

"We're basically engaging other sub-consultants to do certain aspects of the project," Griffin said. "We will have some engineering role in the project, but at this point, the important pieces are the civil and environmental pieces."

MacDonald echoed Kennedy's words, noting that nothing can happen with the field project until construction-level designs are created and environmental permits are obtained. He said that, if everything falls into place as the turf-field group and BCC hopes, the best-case scenario is an October start for construction of the facility.

For Griffin, who has been involved with the annual Kick-Off Classic soccer tournament in the past and has seen his own children play soccer at BCC, the turf-field project is more than a simple labor of love.

"To me, this is so exciting," he said. "We were involved as associate architects and engineers on the Colonial [Theatre]. This is a parallel to that from a personal perspective.

"It's a very high-profile project [in] the community. It's not just [for] BCC; it's not just Pittsfield."

Environmental work can't start, of course, until the spring, when the snow is gone and the ground has thawed.

"For instance, on the environmental side, one of the early tasks will be flagging the wetland vegetation that's adjacent to the other field, so that we know where our borders are," MacDonald said. "That can't occur until there's some vegetation to flag in the spring, when the weather breaks."

Both Kennedy and MacDonald said the sources of the donations for this step in the process included, among others, the city of Pittsfield, BCC, the Pittsfield Soccer Club and the Bianchi/Barbarotta Foundation. Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi, in a November article, said he discussed a contribution to the project approaching $200,000.

MacDonald said the combined group's total budget for the project is $2.3 million, which includes a $300,000 operating and replacement reserve fund; a general construction-conditions fund of $211,000; a construction contingency fund, for any unforeseen issues that could arise, of $243,000; and $25,000 for an entertainment and performance bond, since the BCC field will be located on state property.

"We think we have a budget that is conservatively high," MacDonald said. "We'd rather be conservatively high than optimistically low."

The group has also been invited to apply for a U.S. Soccer Foundation "Safe Places to Play" grant, according to MacDonald. He said the grant, if awarded to the BCC project, would provide a maximum of $200,000 for the field, and $50,000 for a lighting upgrade. The group expects to learn the fate of the application sometime in April.

To reach Matthew Sprague:
msprague@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.