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Look Ahead, Pittsfield: Parks Commission searches for way forward for mountain bike project, park cleanups

PITTSFIELD — This week in Pittsfield there’s big business around parks as the city draws near the end of its visioning work for the Pontoosuc Lake Park. Springside Park is also in the spotlight as the Parks Commission discusses a safety plan for future park cleanups and also the saga of the proposed mountain bike pump track and skills course.

Needle jab launches needed conversation

2021 Springside Park Cleanup (copy)

Volunteers Craig Wojcicki, left, and Mike Laurin pull large items from the woods during the annual Friends of Springside Park Clean Up event at the park in May.

Springside Park cleanups in doubt after volunteer jabbed by needle

Last month, The Eagle brought you news that the Friends of Springside Park was considering suspending their annual cleanups of the area after a volunteer was poked by a hypodermic needle while picking up trash as part of a cleanup.

The injury wasn’t serious and was treated quickly at the Berkshire Medical Center, but the idea volunteers’ safety might be at risk while working to maintain the park they love so well rattled the group and city officials.

The Parks Commission will discuss a draft safety protocol for park cleanup events at its 7:00 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall. One of the new recommendations being considered is having organizers contact the city’s Public Health Nurse Manager as part of the event permitting process, so organizers are up to date on the safety protocols that come with cleaning a city park.

Back to the bikes

The proponents of the proposed Springside Park mountain bike pump track and skills course will make their first appearance in front of the Parks Commission since July during Tuesday’s meeting.

An update on the latest plans for a skills course and pump track will be presented by Will Conroy and Alison McGee. Conroy will be representing the New England Mountain Bike Association as the designer on the project and McGee is the president of the Berkshire County chapter of NEMBA and the original proponent behind the project.

Commissioners settle on Springside Park for mountain bike skills course; new obstacle appears

Over the last several months opponents to the project have made their presence known at several City Council, Parks Commission and Conservation Commission meetings. During that time they’ve questioned the potential wetland impacts of the project, whether the project would constitute a change of use for the Park and what kind of liability the city may have in running the park under a proposed memorandum of understanding.

McGee said in an interview several weeks ago with The Eagle that she’s been following the conversation around the project closely but keeping a distance from some of the meeting hoopla on the advice of Jim McGrath, the city’s Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Program manager.

That’s created even more tension between the opponents of the project and McGrath, who some residents feel has been actively advocating for the project in Parks Commission meetings instead of acting as a neutral advisor to the commission.

Public input sought for city’s ‘well-loved jewel’

2021-06-21-WEATHER-4 (copy)

The Parks and Recreation Department is working to reimagine the future of the Pontoosuc Lake Park. Department officials as asking residents to join them in a visioning meeting this week and for their feedback on city plans to make the park more accessible.

City officials are inviting residents to a public input session as part of a master planning process for the city’s much loved Pontoosuc Lake Park.

City officials call the park a “well-loved jewel in the city park system,” but over the years that jewel has fallen on harder times as city budgets have spared little for maintenance and upkeep. Now Parks Department officials are hoping residents can help come up with ideas how to revitalize the park to something more like the 1960s and 70s, when residents flocked to its swimming spots, beaches and bathhouse.

A water cure to traffic? Marina license helps float Pontoosuc business plan

So far, a public survey from September (which received 230 responses) indicated that residents want city staff to focus on improving park swimming beaches, restroom facilities and picnic tables.

The public meeting will be in Council Chambers at City Hall on Monday at 5:30 p.m. and is the third public input session for the master plan. The department conducted the community survey and heard feedback on the survey results during a public meeting in late October.


Andrea Harrington (copy) (copy)

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington will speak at the final of a three "town hall" series this week at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington concludes her cross-county tour this week with a final town hall event Monday at 6 p.m. at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Harrington visited the Adams Visitor’s Center and the Great Barrington Town Hall over the last two weeks to discuss “the state of the justice system,” her office’s work and “the blueprint for safety and justice” in the county according to a press release for the events.

Residents will have the opportunity to ask Harrington questions in the question-and-answer section following the presentation.

Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at mbritton@berkshireeagle.com or 413- 496-6149.

Pittsfield Reporter

Meg Britton-Mehlisch is the Pittsfield reporter for The Berkshire Eagle. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, she previously worked at the Prior Lake American and its sister publications under the Southwest News Media umbrella in Savage, Minnesota.

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