Pittsfield Parks Commission considers security changes at skate park

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PITTSFIELD — The city Parks Commission is considering the installation of security cameras at the skateboard park near Pittsfield High School and a policy approving no-trespassing orders for persons linked to criminal activity within any city park.

James McGrath, the city's parks and open space manager, gave the commission an update Tuesday on discussions for improving security at the skate park, following a stabbing incident there on Dec. 4 while the high school was in session.

He said discussions involving school Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless, School Committee Chairwoman Katherine Yon, PHS Principal Matthew Bishop and others led to the suggestion for security cameras and also for the option of no-trespassing orders for individuals arrested at the skate park for criminal activity there.

McGrath said the school officials made the latter suggestion, and he subsequently discussed the idea with Police Chief Michael Wynn and City Solicitor Richard Dohoney.

He asked the commission Tuesday for approval to develop a formal policy including the proposed changes for further review by commissioners next month. That was approved.

McGrath said Dohoney had said the commission also should consider a similar no-trespassing policy for all city parks at the same time. Such a policy "would send a strong message" against such behavior, McGrath said.

He said no-trespassing orders could be designated for a specific time period, depending on the incident that prompted it and other factors.

Commissioners expressed concerns about enforcement and issuance of a no-trespassing order. McGrath said individual cases would be handled by Pittsfield Police under an overall policy set by the commission.

He said he also plans to meet with the city's information technology office and with the building maintenance department on installation of cameras covering the park at the corner of East Street and Appleton Avenue, which McGrath said would cost under $2,500.

The cameras would record activity at the skate park 24 hours per day, McGrath said, but not be monitored at all times.

After the stabbing incident, which authorities said involved several PHS students on lunch break, school officials considered closing the park during school hours. But after complaints from nonstudents and others who use the facility, officials began discussing alternative security measures and developed the current proposal.

The existence of the cameras would be posted on signs at the park, McGrath said.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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