|Mount Greylock State Reservation Facing Staffing Issues |
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
03:53AM / Friday, January 26, 2018
|The Mount Greylock Advisory Council is asking DCR for more staffing to prepare for the spring and summer season. |
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The park containing the state's highest peak is facing a significant staffing shortfall in the weeks leading up to its opening.
With winter staffing being reduced, and summer workers not coming on until late April, there will be only two park employees to prepare the state reservation for the coming summer season.
The Mount Greylock Advisory Council voted Thursday at its quarterly meeting to send a letter to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and state representatives requesting more staffing to keep the Visitors Center open during the staffing gap.
The council is requesting either an extension of seasonal help for a six-week period or optimally a full-time employee to man the Visitors Center while remaining staff prepare for the spring and summer season.
"I think we should send a note about this ... it’s an issue because you can’t work seven days a week and you can’t clone yourselves," Chairman Cosmo Catalano said. "I will pen a letter and send it out on behalf of the group because that is the only way it seems to work."
Newly hired Park Supervisor Travis Clairmont told the council during his report that come March 17, they will lose all winter seasonal staff. Summer staff won't be on until April 29.
For nearly six weeks, the only employees at the 12,000-acre park will be Clairmont and Trails Coordinator Becky Barnes.
"It is a six-week gap of staffing and it is hard to run the Visitors Center, open the roadway, clean the entire campground and get the summit ready by ourselves," he said. "So obviously the Visitors Center is not going to be open and staffed five days a week."
Barnes noted that this six-week gap is actually a busy time of year and she expects the mountain will still see between 600 and 800 visitors and the Visitor Center is a key place to have open.
"It is such an important place to have people come before they stat there adventure up on Greylock," she said. "Whether it be hiking, snowmobiling, skiing or even camping ... this is such an important place to make that connection and make sure they are ready and know what to expect on the mountain."
The council floated possibly hiring an intern, however, Barnes said an employee would still have to be present.
She said the only real option is to hire someone full time or extend winter help through this period but the funding is unlikely available.
The council has put pressure on DCR before in regard to staffing. For a stretch of time, there was no supervisor on the mountain and Barnes was the only employee. The council last year had tapped state Sen. Adam Hinds and the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi to advocate on the park's behalf because of cuts in manpower.
In other business, Catalano said he was disappointed the council was not contacted before the radio tower on Mount Greylock was sold.
"I think the council should have been in the loop somewhere at least as a courtesy just to say, 'hey this is pending do you want to comment,'" Catalano said. "Obviously we wouldn't hold up the sale it is just something that would have been in better form to keep us in the loop."
WTEN transferred ownership of the tower late last year to WMAC.
Barnes said because the tower was transferred between two privately owned entities, it was not under the council or DCR's purview.
"We are not involved with it at all. They own the tower, they own the building," she said. "We lease to them, a long-term lease for the square, and we have had that lease for, I don't know, since the '60s. So that lease was ongoing."
Before moving on from the subject, Catalano noted that it would have been an opportunity to see if the tower could be moved.
"I don't want to beat it to death, but there are some of us who think it's pretty ugly and we would like to put it somewhere else if the opportunity ever arose, but I don't think something we would be able to do," he said.
Barnes said the reservation's roads are scheduled to open May 19, depending on the weather.