Berkshire County projects included in Senate bond bill
More approvals needed for $309 million in projects
PITTSFIELD — Projects throughout the Berkshires made it this week into the state Senate's wish list for capital spending.
But the nearly $30 million listed is far from secure. For work to move ahead, municipal officials will be dialing for dollars.
Mayor Thomas W. Bernard of North Adams has his pitch ready to back up his city's need for $1.2 million to plan a public safety complex.
"It's something we need desperately both for the community and for our officers and firefighters," he said Friday.
State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announced this week the North Adams money is among six capital projects included in the Senate's bond bill legislation.
That measure must still be reconciled with a bond bill the House passed in November.
From there, listed capital projects need to get a green light from the governor's office and be packaged for borrowing in the bond market.
"The administration still has authority over when to issue those bonds," said Thomas Matuszko, assistant director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
According to Hinds' office, the projects are in line to be considered for the 2019 fiscal year.
Aside from the North Adams public safety complex, Berkshire projects include:
- $12 million for renovations at the Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield.
- $6 million to replace the Columbus Avenue Parking Garage in Pittsfield.
- $5 million to renovate the Turnure Terrace elderly housing complex in Lenox.
- $4 million to design and engineer a new police station in Pittsfield.
- $500,000 to repair the roof at the Clarksburg School.
In all, the Senate bill authorizes up to $3.65 billion in bonding to provide money for repairs and improvements of buildings around the state.
That figure means the Berkshire County projects represent 0.7 percent of the state total. The county has roughly 1.8 percent of the state's population.
In a statement, Hinds said the Berkshire projects all deserve "much needed capital investments."
The Senate bill also authorizes roof, masonry and window work at Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield, Hinds said.
From his desk in North Adams, Bernard said he will first be looking to see that the public safety complex planning money makes it through the Senate's conference committee with the House, where the two bond bills will be reconciled.
The money isn't enough to build that new complex, but getting one "shovel ready" increases the likelihood of future state or federal funding, he said.
A new public safety complex, Bernard said, is "a priority and critical need for the community." The current North Adams police station dates back to the middle of the 20th century and does not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Having modern facilities for police officers and fire crews "is something that communities all over the Berkshires want to, and need to, address," Bernard said.
In the months ahead, the mayor acknowledged, he'll need to keep speaking out.
"We'll be signaling that this is something we place a priority on," he said, "and that I place a priority on."
Eagle staff writer Adam Shanks contributed to this story.
Larry Parnass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.
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