$500,000 approved for Berkshire Carousel in Lanesborough


LANESBOROUGH -- The Berkshire Carousel will likely stay in Lanesborough, but the proposed Route 7 location remains uncertain.

At Tuesday's annual town meeting, Lanesborough residents authorized the town to borrow $500,000 toward the estimated $1.4 million cost of facility that will house the amusement ride and amenities. The 80-39 margin of victory was the exact two-thirds majority needed for approval.

The borrowing -- to be repaid entirely by the carousel group -- would be combined with a $500,000 state grant, with carousel organizers to raise the remaining $400,000 to pay for the building.

Many of the voters felt the year-round carousel would make their town more of a destination place.

"We have an opportunity to bring visitors to Lanesborough ... a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Barbara Hassan.

The town would own the facility, but the carousel group would operate and maintain the building. If all funding is secured, the carousel could be operational later this fall, carousel organizers have said.

Executive Director Maria Caccaviello told town meeting voters her organization has a purchase and sale agreement for private property that fronts Laston Park, formerly the Sunset Drive-in on Route 7. However, town officials indicated the land isn't zoned for such a commercial venture, while the Board of Selectmen were unsure if the town could own a building on private property.

Those and other issues need to be worked out, according to Selectman William Prendergast.

"We're trying to help the carousel stay without the town spending any money," he said.

Berkshire Carousel project organizers have already raised the $1 million to build the ride itself. It includes 32 horses, a donkey, two chariots and other hand-carved wooden adornments.

Initially, the carousel was planned to be a year-round facility near downtown Pittsfield, until organizers decided last fall to put it in the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. The carousel group, through the town, has returned to its original plan of a self-contained, year-round facility to house the amusement ride, along with a gift shop and cafe.

Annual town meeting voters gathered at Lanesborough Elementary School on Tuesday night also adopted a $9.5 million municipal and school budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The spending plan is a 3 percent increase over the current budget.

Among the other special money articles approved include:

n $180,000 toward the purchase of a new highway department dump truck with plow and sander;

n $50,000 to buy a new forestry pickup vehicle for the fire department;

n $35,000 appropriation for a new fire chief's vehicle;

n $35,000 in surplus funds, or "free cash" toward the replacement of the rear roof on Town Hall.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.


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