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Wetlands Derails Restoration of Pontoosuc Beach
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:58PM / Thursday, July 18, 2019
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The Parks Commission was updated on the status of a number of ongoing projects on Tuesday.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Wetland issues have derailed planned improvements to Pontsoosuc Lake Park.
 
The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake received $15,000 from the Community Preservation Act with the intent to restore the beach on the Hancock Road side. The city's Parks, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim McGrath, however, said it was found that the former beach has essentially turned into wetlands.
 
"We can't disturb that area of Pontoosuc Park," McGrath told the Parks Commission on Tuesday.
 
McGrath said the way the drainage currently is in the park has led to wetland soils and plants covering the former beach so it is now treated as a resource area. McGrath said options now would be to re-orient the stairway and create another beach in another location. But, "it is going to be an involved project."
 
"If we are looking for an upgrade at Pontoosuc Lake park, it will be a bit more involved and we will have less space than we've had in the past," he said.
 
That section of the lake was once a highly used beach in the past but over the years the drainage led it to become mostly unusable because of wetness and mosquitoes. The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake hoped there could be a relatively easy fix to at least make that section usable but that won't be the case.
 
McGrath provided the update as well as an update on a series of park projects that are ongoing this summer. 
 
Greenagers are currently working on improving the trails at Springside Park as well as working at Wild Acres to create a handicapped-accessible trail.  
 
The Taconic track has been repaired, with a new surface in spot repairs. The next step is to fence in the baseball field to make the entire area inaccessible to vehicles. The city has had trouble with vehicles driving on the fields and causing damage.
 
The Durant Park restroom project was completed a few weeks ago and this past weekend it was vandalized. McGrath said the doors were spray painted and have since been removed. McGrath said all city parks have had a lot of trouble with vandalism this year.
 
Repairs to the dugouts and fences at the Doyle Softball Complex is being sorted out now and the work is expected to be done in the fall.
 
The bids for the Westside Riverway Park are due by Thursday and McGrath said he hopes a contract will be signed by the end of the month for construction to start in September.
 
Clapp Park's renovation is currently underway. McGrath said the underground work of water, sewer, and drainage has been put in, which will support the splash pad. He said substantial completion of the project should be completed by the end of August. However, there is still discussion over where the batting cage will be installed once the project is completed as space near the field has become tight.
 
The Parks Commission also adopted new rules to govern both parks and conservation areas. Since the last discussion, the only change of much substance was rewording of the section on firearms.
 
"There was some concern that the prior language would exclude properly licensed gun owners," McGrath said.
 
The language now is consistent with state law and McGrath said anybody who is legally able to carry would be able to do so without being out of compliance park rules.
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