Pittsfield eyes dog park at Burbank Park; interim site `a nonstarter'

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PITTSFIELD — Those looking for a place to let their dogs freely romp around off leash likely will get their wish, but they'll need to wait.

The City Council this week accepted a $27,000 design grant from the Stanton Foundation for a planned dog park at Burbank Park.

The city had hoped to get an interim dog park off the ground at the East Street Softball Complex this summer, but it was forced to bag those plans, said Jim McGrath, Pittsfield's park and open space program manager.

Because the city hoped to upgrade fencing on the site, which is a capped landfill, he said requirements imposed by the Department of Environmental Protection would have been too much to bear. The department needed updated post-closure documents and air quality monitoring from the city, he said.

"Right off the bat, it appeared the project would be a nonstarter," he said, "because the DEP was requiring some additional testing and plan development, which didn't work within our favor or time frame."

The city plans to make space for a permanent dog park to the south of Burbank Park's existing amenities, in an area to the left side at the end of Lakeway Drive. There are some young trees there that would need to be cleared, he said.

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"We're hopeful that this can be a fall 2020 construction project," he said.

McGrath said earlier in the year that he hoped to immediately open a temporary dog park that could relieve strain between canines and humans within existing city parks. The plans at the old softball complex were intended to fill the void while the city took steps toward a more formal space for dogs.

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to provide that interim dog park like we had hoped," he said. Now, all of our efforts are geared toward developing the permanent dog park at the Burbank Park location."

The design grant accepted by the council allows the city to move into the design phase of the project, which will be done by Berkshire Design Group, McGrath said. Site survey work will follow, and he then expects to have cost estimates in the spring.

McGrath said the project will cost about $300,000. He plans to apply for a $225,000 construction grant, which requires a 10 percent match from the city.

"The city would need to make up the difference," he said.

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


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