Public offers diverse ideas for reuse of Pittsfield's Springside House
Photo Gallery: Springside House
PITTSFIELD -- Myriad uses for the historic Springside House were suggested Monday as the public comment portion of a consultant-led feasibility study shifted into high gear.
City officials and representatives of CME Associates Inc. of Woodstock, Conn., the firm hired to assess the vacant former mansion house in Springside Park, gave a presentation on the study thus far that drew about 40 people to City Hall.
Everyone was asked to break into smaller focus groups and to offer and discuss their ideas. Horticultural uses were prominent, along with environmental or nature center uses.
The commenters also listed a visitors center, historical museums, focusing on local history or sports; a bed and breakfast with facilities for events like weddings; municipal office or meeting space; and use of the existing apartment space for income-generation.
To enhance the facility once restored, Nordic ski or hiking trails were suggested, as were a greenhouse facility, a seed library and a farmer's market.
Horticulture features were seen as enhancing the existing the Hebert Arboretum on the 260-acre city-owned park site.
James McGrath, the city's Parks and Open Space manager, said public comment is encouraged and will be accepted for the study through April 15. Ideas can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or residents and others could call McGrath, at 413-499-9344.
After that, he said, city officials and CME staff members will develop a reuse strategy for Springside House based on the feasibility study and ideas from the public and develop cost estimates.
The findings will be presented at a later meeting and further opportunities for public input will be provided.
Lynn Smith of CME described the findings of a structural analysis of the rambling 19th century mansion, which was donated to the city in 1940 and used by the Parks Department but has been vacant since 2007.
She said sections of brick foundation wall, which overlays fieldstone, were heavily damaged by water runoff from the roofs but are repairable.
The roof has been replaced, she said, but not before some water damage occurred in the upper-level rooms. There are 26 rooms in all and more than one addition, including an apartment area and rooms converted for city parks office space.
The exterior needs attention soon, Smith said, but nearly all of it is restorable while some siding will be have to be replaced. The plumbing and other features will require significant work, she said, depending on the uses decided upon, but "not overwhelming."
There are three stories in the house and no elevator or handicap-accessible restrooms.
The architecture is unique and features Italianate style elements and an encompassing porch.
The study, which is expected to wrap up in June, was funded through a $30,000 historic preservation grant and an identical match from the city. The city is expected to then begin planning and seeking funding for rehabilitation and reuse of the landmark structure.
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