$11.2M overhaul at YMCA in Pittsfield to begin in spring (copy)

The project to overhaul the historic North Street building in Pittsfield that houses the Berkshire Family YMCA might receive another boost of Community Preservation Act money.  

PITTSFIELD — Over a dozen projects are in the running to receive a financial boost, courtesy of the Community Preservation Act.

In the years since Pittsfield voters passed the act in 2016, funding requests have exceeded the amount of CPA money available, said City Planner C.J. Hoss. But, this year, the $620,000 pot is enough to approve all 13 project requests, with some left over.

Past years' CPA requests have come in at about $1 million, give or take, Hoss said, but they totaled $572,531 this year.

Hoss said the coronavirus pandemic ushered in fundraising challenges and increased competition for many grants, meaning that local nonprofits, which are popular requesters of CPA money, might not have quite as many eligible projects on tap.

“A lot of them aren’t in a place to consider projects like they were in years past,” he said.

Hoss said the Community Preservation Committee could choose to advise the City Council to reserve some of the money  for next year. The committee could issue funding recommendations as early as its next meeting, which, Hoss said, tentatively is set for April 19. 

The act generates revenue for projects through a 1 percent surcharge added to most residential property tax bills beyond $100,000.

The requests

Here is a look at the funding hopefuls:

• Fahd Muhammad Zia, of AM Management, has requested $89,420 toward its $3,219,125 project to redevelop the former Reining Love Church into the 27-unit Easteview Apartments. After acquiring the downtown building last year, Zia proposed putting the CPA money toward three affordable units planned for the development, which also received a tax incentive from the city.

• The Berkshire Athenaeum is working to preserve over 300 large-format, historical photos for generations to come, said Ann Marie Harris, acting supervisor of local history and the Melville Collections. The Athenaeum requested $6,473 to digitize the photos, which, she said, then would live online for all to view, at no cost.

• The Berkshire Historical Society, in its ongoing efforts to preserve Melville's former homestead, Arrowhead, is asking for $10,000 to have a Historic Structure Report compiled for the property. Executive Director Lesley Herzberg says the report would help stewards identify and fundraise for required historic preservation projects.

• Katelyn Miner, founder and executive director of the Berkshire Dream Center, is seeking $100,000 toward “dire repairs” that she told the Community Preservation Committee are needed at the nonprofit’s 475 Tyler St. building in the Morningside neighborhood. After redoing its kitchen, the center — it served an influx of families during the pandemic — is opening up a restaurant-style soup kitchen, and requested the money to address deteriorating exterior brickwork.

• The Berkshire Theatre Group is asking for $25,000 to help rehabilitate the aging warehouse that is part of The Garage at The Colonial Theater, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The warehouse needs a new roof and a new floor, and Lillian Lee, of the theater group, says the total project cost is about $360,000.

• The Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center has asked for $100,000 for development and maintenance of trails at its all-girls camp on Churchill Road, founded in 1911. The project includes creating a new trail, called Eureka!, named for its newest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program for underserved middle and high school girls.

• Jim McGrath, on behalf of the city's Department of Community Development, applied for $8,296 to purchase 10 metal picnic tables that would be placed in the following city parks: Marchisio, West Memorial, Crane, Springside at the Springside House site, Tucker, Osceola, Lebanon, Lakewood, Coolidge and Wahconah Park at Park Street.

• Brian Filiault, the city’s building maintenance director, is asking for $65,000 to upgrade the restroom facilities, built in the 1950s and designed by homegrown architect Joseph MacArthur Vance, at Deming Park. Filiault says the renovations would address code-compliance issues and make the restrooms handicap-accessible.

• Conservation Agent Robert Van Der Kar, also on behalf of the city’s Department of Community Development, has put in a request for $30,000 to create an eight-car parking area at the 75-acre Barkerville Conservation Area on Barker Road. The conservation area has limited parking, he says, leading to situations where parked cars block a shared access to the nearby electric utility substation.

• McGrath also asked for $14,000 to allow the Department of Community Development to clean and restore 14 bronze plaques around the city that commemorate historically significant people and places.

• The Country Club of Pittsfield asked for $30,000 toward repairing three chimneys at the members-owned clubhouse. Melissa Aitken, chief executive officer, says the chimneys are original to the building, constructed in 1785.

• The Pittsfield Historical Commission lodged a request for $5,000 to keep working on a project to compile documentation for a number of historic properties that might be eligible to be added to the National Historic Registry — potentially making the properties eligible for historic tax credits, which could encourage redevelopment, rather than demolition.

• Amid a major renovation project, the Berkshire Family YMCA is seeking $90,000 to complete work restoring the facade of its 292 North St. building to its original 1909 condition, according to Executive Director Jessica Rumlow. Once completed, glass block windows on the Melville Street facade would be uncovered for the first time in decades, a small part of a major, multiyear renovation effort. The project has received $185,000 in community preservation money to date. 

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.

Cops and Courts Reporter

Amanda Burke is Cops and Courts Reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. An Ithaca, New York native, she previously worked at The Herald News of Fall River and the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise.