North Adams eyes PARC grant for spray park

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NORTH ADAMS — As the city prepares to begin construction of a skate park on State Street, it announced plans this week to seek funding for an adjacent spray park.

The city will apply for a Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant to fund a second stage of development that is expected to completely transform the public amenities at the Noel Field Athletic Complex.

Stage one of the project, which is already funded and is set to go out to bid in July, focuses on the construction of a skate park aimed mostly at providing a recreational outlet for the city's youth.

Stage two of the plans, which are still in development, call for the construction of a spray park, renovation of the basketball court, rebuilding the tennis court into a second basketball court, and construction of pickleball and bocce ball courts.

"It does give a lot more amenities to the park and it makes it just much more user friendly, most specifically to our residents and children of the community," said Mayor Richard Alcombright.

If the full funding is not received or the final project budget does not encompass all of those amenities, the highest priorities would be placed on the spray park and basketball courts.

"We're trying to be as creative as possible in this next phase," said Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie.

The city is seeking the maximum $400,000 PARC grant to fund the second phase of the project, which would be matched by $175,000 of community development block grant funding.

The existing playground would not be affected by the new plans, but a walking path would be slightly rerouted and a city-owned storage building nearby would be reduced in size by about two-thirds.

Initially, the skate park was to be built in an area in which it would intrude on the existing parking lot at the entrance to the complex. But after the purchase and philanthropic donation of the adjacent former Modern Liquors building by Jack Wadsworth in 2015, the plans were redrawn.

"That changed the entire flavor and game strategy of what we wanted to do," Nuvallie said.

The construction of the skate park was funded by a full $400,000 in PARC money and $276,000 from CDBG funding. The Modern Liquors building was recently demolished and will be the site of the skate park, which is expected to be completed June 30, 2017.

One amenity noticeably absent from the plans are public restrooms, though Nuvallie noted there are others within walking distance from the park. Though not currently called for, bathrooms could potentially be installed in the nearby storage building, Nuvallie said.

If the city is successful in its efforts for further funding — the PARC application is due in July and it will take several months to hear back — it hopes to have the spray park built by June 30, 2018.

The plan was unanimously endorsed by the City Council at its June 14 meeting.

"I think this is so exciting, I've heard a lot of residents interest in spray parks," said Councilor Kate Merrigan.

Councilor Lisa Blackmer noted that the park could also be attractive to visitors from outside the area, adding "if you've got kids under a certain age, how many hours can you spend in a museum?"

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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