Volunteer effort spruces up Clapp Park

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PITTSFIELD — Volunteers known for building homes put aside their hammers and saws on Thursday, and instead grabbed rakes and paint brushes to spruce up Clapp Park.

Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity and Lowe's Heroes teamed up with other community members for garbage cleanup, maintenance, painting and repairing Little League building stairs, doors and restrooms. Other of the some 50 volunteers worked on cleanup and marking of the trail from the playground to the Little League field.

Vincent Marinaro, past president of the Pittsfield Rotary Club, was thrilled to do some trailblazing.

"When I get asked to help out, I will jump at it," he said while raking tree debris from the trail.

The Lowe's/Habitat effort to improve Clapp Park will complement the $680,000 overhaul of the park. A $400,000 state grant and city funds will pay for most of the project. Rotary is donating $180,000 toward a splash pad to be installed adjacent to the basketball court along West Housatonic Street.

Among the park upgrades are additional trails and walking paths, a seasonal bathroom serving the playground/basketball court area, and making the playground more handicapped accessible.

Barbara Arpante, who was walking the trail with her 11-year-old Australian shepherd, Lila, on Thursday said she appreciated the extra care of her favorite path.

"This is the perfect walk for Lila," she said standing under the canopy of trees. "When there's really good foliage, it's beautiful in here."

The four-hour work shift on Thursday was a collaboration between Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit usually focused on building houses for first-time homebuyers, and the employee volunteer program of Lowe's Home Improvement.

Lowe's Heroes works with Habitat nationwide in helping construct new or renovating existing houses for families rebuilding their lives. Lowe's is providing $40,000 for materials and the preparation of installing the splash pad next year.

Dawn Giftos, local community outreach and development manager for Habitat, said it's not just about house building for the two organizations.

"We're about improving the quality of life in the community and encouraging people to live here," she said.

The Lowe's volunteers came from their South Hadley and Ware stores. Juan Rivera, of South Hadley, was freshening up a restroom with a new coat of paint.

"I enjoy this type of work," he said. "I did work for the YMCA in Connecticut, so that carried over working for Lowe's. I'm no stranger to volunteerism."

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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