The family of the late William Carrigan accepted the Lifetime of Achievement Award from the Springside Conservancy. Carrigan was a longtime volunteer at the park. See more photos here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — For Robert Presutti, Friday night felt a lot like he was a character in a Robert Frost poem, stopping by the snowy woods.
Except it wasn't snowy, it was rainy, and the woods was Springside Park as more than 100 people gathered for the annual Springside Park Gala. The event is a fundraiser for the Springside Conservancy, which is working to preserve and restore the park.
The gala was a night to relax and take a break from volunteering for Presutti, but he knows there are miles to go before the park is what all of the volunteers envision, and he has promises to keep for future generations.
"We are making promises into the future for other generations and we are taking a pause here to enjoy the view," Presutti said.
And he'll be back on Saturday working to improve the park, as he has for years. Presutti is a member of the Hebert Arboretum and the RSVP coordinator for Springside Park. He also headed the effort to develop a seed orchard for the American chestnut, part of a national effort to bring the tree back to the American landscape.
"If you come to Springside Park very often, you've probably seen Bob around. He's out taking care of the gardens, taking care of the trees, climbing up in trees to heights I hadn't dared in many years. And taking his lunch in his car and then getting right back to work," Springside Conservancy President Joe Durwin said.
"You might mistake him for a full-time city staff person. He is not. He is all volunteer."
For all of those efforts, day in and day out, to make sure the landscape is well kept, Presutti was presented with the second annual Vincent J. Hebert Award.
"He has been a huge part of taking care of this landscape," Durwin said.
And the landscape is poised to improve even more. A lot of momentum has grown behind Springside Park and Friday capped off the completion of the first of a five-year plan to rejuvenate the park.
"We've come a long way this year with the help of SK Design. We've completed an engineering study, which we think will allow us to finally restore Springside Pond. That is huge and long-awaited. Also this year we have begun the restoration of the Springside House, which has stood vacant for far too long. We have begun to meet with community leaders and educational partners to craft a plan that will create a state of the art, multi-use natural park, tourism, and educational center," Durwin said.
The volunteers are also working with Morningside Up on a plan to design and build a food forest, and bring more food-bearing plants in throughout the park.
"It's been a great year for this park," Durwin said.
While it has been a good year for the park, not everything was good news. In February, longtime park volunteer William Carrigan died. Carrigan has spent some 50 years volunteering at the park, and his family is going into the third and fourth generations of being members of the Friends of Springside Park.
"He really stayed the course over the years to preserve this park from many, many problems and issues," Durwin said.
The Springside Conservancy also presented Carrigan's family with a lifetime of achievement award in honor of his efforts.
The gala was threatened by rain yet again. Last year, a storm pelted the Berkshires just before the event but the gala was dry. This year, about an hour in, a heavy storm forced the attendees to gather under tents. But, the rain was short-lived.
The event was catered by local restaurants, there was a cash bar, and the Vinette Quartet played jazz. The architects behind the Mastheads project opened up the new writer's studio at Springside Park for attendees to view. Attendees of all ages came from across the city and the event attracted numerous city officials.
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