New path to encourage fitness for Dalton elders

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DALTON — A countywide effort to address the needs of older people will plant its flag outside the Dalton Senior Center.

But not a "flag" flag. By Nov. 30, the town's highway crew will install $10,000 worth of exercise gear received for free from the state chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons.

Kelly Pizzi, executive director of the Dalton Council on Aging, briefed members of the Select Board on the project, arranged through the Age Friendly Berkshires program. "We'll have a little exercise trail," she said Monday.

The AARP grant offered a choice of exercise devices that will be arranged on property around the 40 Field Street Extension senior center. Stations along the trail will house all-weather equipment that goes by the following names: ski walker, chest press/lateral pull, hip twister, exercise bike and double leg press.

"We chose items that would be age-friendly," Pizzi said in an interview outside the Dalton Town Hall meeting room.

The leg press can be operated by two people, encouraging sociability along the route. Pizzi said she hopes the trail will attract people of all generations.

Peg McDonough, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission staffer who oversees Age Friendly Berkshires, told officials the gear will help kick off the town's participation in the program.

"We're ready to roll on the project," McDonough said. The grant terms require installation by Nov. 30.

As the new equipment goes in, a neighboring building — the former Adams High School — is about to come down. The demolition will result in the senior center picking up two additional rows of parking, Pizzi said.

In other business, members of the Select Board this week:

- Accepted the appointment of two permanent intermittent officers for the Dalton Police Department. Chief Jeffrey Coe introduced the two officers, Nickolas J. Gaudette and Anthony Baroli, then led their friends and family members on a tour of the station. Both new officers graduated in June from the Massachusetts Police Academy and were eligible to begin work as of Monday.

- Officially accepted a grant of $238,726 for new LED street lights. The money was secured in a grant from the state's Green Communities program overseen by the Department of Energy Resources. Members of the board then reviewed maps of pole and light fixture locations.

- Heard that 13 general contractors attended viewings this past week of the former high school to consider bidding on its demolition, which is to start later this year and take three months. Bids will be opened at 2 p.m. Aug. 30 in the Callahan Room of town hall.

Town Manager Kenneth Walto said he expects a contract to be awarded by the end of September after engineering reviews.

Member Robert Bishop, who chaired the session in the absence of John W. Bartels Jr., directed the town to notify neighbors of the old school about the timeline for demolition, once it is known.

"Some people are already questioning," he said. "I would like to put them at ease."

Member John Boyle noted the number of contractors interested and expressed hope that bids would be competitive — helping to bring down the cost, which is expected to be more than $1 million.

"It's a good end of the year project," he said of contractors.

- Learned that paving work on Old Windsor Road is nearly complete.

<em>Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.</em>

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