Will Porter be memorialized in Highland Park?
PITTSFIELD — Chris Porter was a doer.
The late owner of C.R. Porter Builders resigned after serving for a year on the Pittsfield board of the Berkshire Family YMCA; board meetings weren't his style, he said.
Instead, Porter pledged to fix up the century-old "Y" building on North Street.
"As time went on, we had things that needed to be done and Chris did it — in kind," Berkshire Family YMCA CEO and Executive Director Randy Kinnas recently told the Pittsfield Park Commission. "His generosity and philanthropic attitude is second to none."
For Porter's unselfish support of the "Y" and dozens of other organizations in and around the city, Kinnas is among hundreds of people backing a proposal to rename Highland Park the Christopher R. Porter Memorial Park.
The five-member commission will hold a formal public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall to discuss and take a final vote on the name change.
The commissioners last month gave preliminary approval for a plan that's been in the works since January, according to Dick Rivers, spokesman for the citizens committee spearheading the renaming effort.
Naming or renaming a park, street, school or municipal building in Pittsfield usually has some opposition. So far, that hasn't been the case with Highland Park.
"I haven't run into anybody who hasn't had good things to say about Chris," Rivers told The Eagle on Thursday.
Porter was 54 when he died while hunting last December. A 1979 graduate of Taconic High School, Porter was an avid hunter and fisherman who was named 2016 Pittsfield Sportsman of the Year.
Since founding his contracting business in 2001, he and his business — almost always without fanfare — donated $100,000 to some 100 youth, health and cultural-based organizations, as well as religious, public safety and animal advocacy groups.
Porter also helped maintain Highland Park and the surrounding area. His company's handiwork includes the completion of the Doyle Softball Complex on Benedict Road and the development of the strip mall at the corner of Highland Avenue and Pecks Road.
Porter's supporters also pointed out the city native's compassion on an individual basis. In a letter to the Park Commission, Anthony Clement wrote about how one of his nephews remained a C.R. Porter employee long after the man was unable to work after being stricken with cancer.
"Chris kept him on the payroll ... not for weeks, not for months but ... for well over a year," Clement stated. "Amazing loyalty and generosity to a friend!"
In addition to the name change, the citizens committee is raising money to replace the Highland Park fence before the end of the year and next spring install new playground equipment, add picnic tables to the upper and lower fields, along with upkeep as needed.
Gerald Lee, a former Pittsfield City Council president and police chief, said Porter would appreciate the park improvements.
"Ironically, if Chris were still alive he would be one of the first to volunteer his time to fix up the park," Lee wrote in his letter supporting the effort to rename the park.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.