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Pittsfield Looks to Move Vietnam Memorial Mural with CPA Funding
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:18AM / Saturday, November 20, 2021
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Pittsfield is planning to move the Vietnam mural on South Street to a more accessible location.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city is looking to move the Vietnam War memorial mural "Lest We Forget" from the corner of West Housatonic and South Street to a new location for better visibility.

"I guess the idea is, it's not a mural that anyone really enjoys unless they're stuck in that intersection and looking over on it," City Planner CJ Hoss said. "So the goal would be to move into a more accessible location."

The Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development is requesting $15,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) for the endeavor, which is described as a restoration of the mural that was completed in the late 1980s.

Earlier this week the Historical Commission deemed the project "historically significant." It will now continue in the eligibility process before going to the Community Preservation Committee.

The total project cost is $32,000.

The mural features Vietnam War veterans from Pittsfield and Berkshire County who were killed in action. It is meant to honor the fallen soldiers and educate the public about the ultimate cost of war.

It is not painted directly on the building and therefore will be easier to move.

The city has engaged Vietnam Veterans Chapter 65, members of which are represented in the mural, the city's Department of Veterans Affairs for project oversight, and the original muralist Daniel Galvez in this process.

A new location that is more centralized has been identified but was not revealed.

The commission also voted a tax and vital records project as historically significant. It is being undertaken by the Berkshire Athenaeum in partnership with the city.

The library is seeking $88,000 in CPA funding for a wide-format scanner and accessory equipment, supplies, and contracted costs of three temporary part-time staff members.

The total project cost is around $96,000.

Library history supervisor Ann-Marie Harris said they have been getting a lot of use of these records.  The problem is, the books are over 3 feet wide when opened and weigh around 50 pounds.

"You can't scan them on a regular scanner, they're just too huge," she said.

After realizing that City Hall has about 300 large books containing vital records, the Berkshire Athenaeum asked to collaborate for the acquisition of a large scanning machine to get the job done quickly and easily.

City Clerk Michele Benjamin then gave permission to include the library in the grant.

"These tax record books have historical records in it, way back from 1900 up to 1960 I believe," Harris said.

She added that the scanner machine would likely be open to the public and the scanned documents would be available online.

Digitizing both of these forms of documents will provide a user-friendly format for accessing the information and will preserve it.  Reportedly, the tax books are beginning to degrade in the library's basement for lack of proper storage climate and frequent use.

A Bookeye 4 VIA wide-format scanner has been quoted for $35,000 for just the machine.  

Hoss will be following up to make sure that the funds can be used for the purchase of a machine under CPA guidelines.

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