Topless sunbathing in Pittsfield?

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The petition, filed by Katherine Gundelfinger of Lakewood Drive, also asks the city to restrict the right of any sex to walk shirtless in downtown Pittsfield. That portion of her proposal is geared toward males, Gundelfinger said yesterday.

A Pittsfield native, the 36-year-old portrait and landscape artist is not alone in her beliefs. Along with her petition, Gundelfinger has submitted a second petition containing the names of 50 city residents who back her proposal for top-free sunbathing on Onota Lake. She created her petition on June 21 and began collecting names in July.

"It just doesn't seem right that women have to wear something tight around their neck," Gundelfinger said, when asked why she filed her petition. "I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way."

Council President Gerald M. Lee said yesterday that he had seen Gundelfinger's petition, and expected the council to refer it to the Park Commission because Burbank Park is under that board's jurisdiction.

The council probably will address her petition Tuesday at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

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"I don't think it's appropriate," Lee said. "When you have an ocean site of 20 miles, there could be a small area maybe. It's a small area up there. But that's the Park Department's call."

Gundelfinger said she would be interested in placing a top-free sunbathing spot at Burbank Park in a shoreline area separated from the beach by a small grove of trees. That area is in the vicinity of Controy Pavilion.

"I don't want to be in a secluded area beyond Controy Pavilion," she said.

She envisions the topless sunbathing area being separated from the rest of the park by a white lattice fence, high enough to conceal standing sunbather's chests, but low enough so that people inside could see the rest of the park. "I think one of the fears is that if women gain this right, people will be demanding a full nude beach," Gundelfinger said. "I have no desire to make a nude beach or to go to one."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski: tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com, (413) 496-6224


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