PITTSFIELD — From a possible decision on winter sports to a proposal to add an outdoor bike skills track at Springside Park, recreation is on the city’s agenda this week.
The Pittsfield School Committee holds a special meeting Monday to take up a question on the mind of many of Pittsfield Public Schools students and families: Will winter sports happen during the pandemic, and, if so, in whole or in part?
In August, the School Committee voted unanimously to "postpone all interscholastic athletic activities in the Pittsfield Public Schools through Nov. 30, 2020, with the hope for a three-season 'float,' with determination of interscholastic athletic activities subsequent to Nov. 30 to be made by the school committee."
Translation? Fall sports were taken off the table for Pittsfield and Taconic high schools. Nov. 30 has come and gone, and in the time since the committee nixed fall sports, coronavirus cases have risen sharply, prompting the district to step all students back to remote learning last month.
Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the School Committee will take up the matter of winter sports at its 5 p.m. virtual special meeting Monday. A public comment period will kick off the meeting, then the School Committee will hear a presentation from the district, said member William Cameron.
“There will be a special meeting on Monday to discuss what the school district will do [with winter sports] in light of the continued upsurge in cases of the virus, and the desire on the part of many people to have their children participate in interscholastic sports,” he said.
Separately, one member of the Pittsfield School Committee is leading the charge to bring a new outdoor recreational offering to Springside Park, which would be available to folks of all ages if the project moves ahead.
Alison McGee, who also serves as president of the Berkshire County chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, introduced the Parks Commission in mid-November to a proposal to build a new bike skills course at the park.
The commission has expressed interest in McGee's concept, and last weekend it visited the area of Springside Park where McGee proposed putting the bike skills course. The Park’s Commission will revisit the proposal at its 7 p.m. virtual meeting Tuesday.
In other city matters, the recently appointed members of the city’s revamped Homelessness Prevention Committee will meet remotely for the first time, at a public meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The City Council on Dec. 8 approved Mayor Linda Tyer’s appointments to the committee, which, on Wednesday, will vote to elect committee officers, and review the powers and duties vested in the panel.
A few hours after that, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee will meet via videoconference. Members will discuss the city’s employee recruitment efforts, and receive reports from the city and public schools system regarding progress made toward achieving diversity among employee ranks.
Berkshire Roots’ quest for approvals to raze the former Ken’s Bowl building on Dalton Avenue and build up a large cannabis-cultivation and manufacturing center in its footprint stalled last month, after neighbors voiced concerns about odor-mitigation plans for the property and the company agreed to get a third-party review of its engineering plans.
Another public hearing is scheduled, for 7 p.m. Wednesday, before the Zoning Board of Appeals, when members will pick back up the company’s request for a special permit needed to bring its plans for a three-building “campus” to life.
Normalcy feels like a foreign concept these days, but the community has found a number of ways to keep holiday traditions alive this year. Additionally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note ongoing pleas from city officials not to gather indoors with nonhousehold members during the holidays.
As North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said on Pittsfield Community Television last week, by sacrificing in-person get-togethers with friends and extended family this year, we all help set the stage for a far more conventional 2021 holiday season.
Today from 4 to 6 p.m., a master ice sculptor will shape a towering block of ice into a 6-foot-tall menorah, which will be illuminated during a candle-lighting ceremony to celebrate the Festival of Lights. The celebration to mark the fourth day of Hanukkah will take place in the parking lot of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires at 196 South St., with the outdoor and socially distanced event also featuring hot drinks, doughnuts, free raffles, latkes and more.
Children across the city will receive very special phone calls this week — from none other than Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Monday is the final day that parents can request a phone call from the magical duo to their child through the city's North Pole Calling program.
Application forms can be found at tinyurl.com/y5lfu962, and must be completed, then emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday. You also can request an application form by calling 413-499-9368.