Pittsfield eyes pond restoration at Springside Park

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PITTSFIELD — Children of this generation could soon be swimming and skating at Springside Park, like their parents before them.

The historic park's pond is overdue for a makeover, and the city aims to give it one. City Hall recently contracted designs to restore the pond, corresponding observation bridge and build a parking lot for visitors.

Before the pond fell into disrepair over the past two decades, it served as a place for people to ice skate during the winter and as a wading pool during the summer. As it stands, the pond is almost entirely filled in with sediment and weeds.

A granite and limestone retaining wall that once bordered the bond has largely fallen in. And parking has long been an issue.

"There is currently no formal parking in this area of the park, and visitors resort to parking along Springside Avenue, which is not legal — and dangerous," said Jim McGrath, the city's park, open space and natural resource program manager. "Or they just don't visit."

Project designs include handicapped-accessible pathways from the proposed parking lot to the picnic area and the pond.

"Access is an important component of what we are trying to achieve here," McGrath said. "Access for all abilities."

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The project dovetails with the city's existing efforts to rejuvenate the Morningside neighborhood, the project description states. McGrath said he doesn't yet know how much the project would cost, or how the city will fund it.

"Once we receive the definitive cost estimates for this work this fall, we will determine the best path forward with regard to funding," he said. "My instinct is that this pond rehabilitation would be an ideal grant-funded project so we'll begin seeking grant opportunities first."

The project description says that currently, outflow from the pond travels through a deteriorated swale to a catch basin, from which pipes carry it underground over to the northwest corner of Silver Lake.

According the description of the project McGrath provided, the city also aims to address issues in the drainage area that contribute to erosion at the pond. It states there could be more than 3,200 cubic yards of sediment to remove during the restoration.

Subsequently, the size of the pond and water quality within it diminished over the years.

People expressed excitement about the project after a city post about the plans made it to Facebook.

"Loved playing near the pond growing up," one commenter said. "I always wished it was still a pool."

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


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