Calling all cars: New downtown Pittsfield parking lot open for business

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PITTSFIELD — A long-awaited project brought new parking to downtown Pittsfield on Monday.

The city's contractor, J.H. Maxymillian, finished construction on the new Summer Street lot on Friday, and on Monday the space was officially open for business. The newly metered lot replaces the former Columbus Avenue parking garage, which was demolished as part of the $1.2 million project.

Safety concerns about the 40-year-old garage emerged in 2014, after an inspection forced city officials to close the structure's second level. There were 127 usable spaces in the partially condemned structure, and the project brought that total to 150 spaces.

The lot, with points of egress on Summer Street, beefs up parking options in a busy section of downtown. It sits next door to Hotel on North, the Wright Building — which Allegrone is developing into market-rate housing — and the Berkshire Family YMCA, which is embarking on a $6 million overhaul of its historic North Street complex.

The garage also resides beside the John Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, which will see the launch of a pilot rail service next year between New York City and the Berkshires.

Fresh blacktop glistened in the sun at the new lot on Monday. Bousquet Ski Area loomed lush in the background.

Public Services Commissioner David Turocy said asbestos and an unexpected underground storage area added about $117,000 to the project, originally slated to cost $1,071,668.

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He said city parking attendants were milling around the lot throughout the day to help people navigate the new space and its parking kiosks.

"It was actually pretty quiet," he said of the day.

The lot has spaces for 68 permit holders that carried over from the lot's days as a garage, he said, plus six new permit holders. He said his staff continues to field inquiries from people interested in permits, but the city plans to hold off on selling more.

"We're going to monitor over the summer, see how much use it gets," he said. "Before we grant any additional permits we just want to get a better sense of that and we'll look at it again in the fall."

The city also touched up spaces in the alleyway between the backside of buildings along North Street and the new lot. Turocy said crews were able to squeeze in two additional spaces there, bringing the total to 19.

Those spaces are free for 90 minutes, he said.

Parking kiosks line the exterior of the lot, where the first 30 minutes are free and beyond that parking costs 50 cents per hour. Metered parking runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, while nights and weekends are free.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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