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Pittsfield Con Comm OKs Barkerville Conservation Area Parking Lot
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:19AM / Thursday, January 13, 2022
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A new parking lot at the conservation area off Barker Road will allow more people to enjoy the wilderness.

The lack of parking sometimes means Eversource's access to its nearby substation has been blocked. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will be adding a parking lot to the Barkerville Conservation Area so that nature lovers will have better access.

Last week, the Conservation Commission approved an application for the construction of a grass-on-gravel parking lot on the property located at 320 Barker Road. The work is to occur in a riverfront area, triggering a need for approval from the commission.

"This is an important project for the city," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said.

"It will prove access tremendously for those that use the Barkerville Conservation Area."

The lot will be about 9,300 square feet and yield about eight spaces. It will be an interior lot set back about 250 feet from Barker Road, a location that was chosen because it will require minimal tree cutting.

McGrath said there will be adequate erosion control and other performance measures applied since the construction will be within the riverfront.

The application was granted with two extra conditions proposed by Thomas Sakshaug: that "no parking" signs are placed on the east, or riverside, of an onsite access road and that a barrier is placed on the west side of the parking area.

Last year, the city was awarded $30,000 in Community Preservation Act funding for the project's cost.

"The goal of the project is to provide safer and more convenient parking for visitors to the
Barkerville Conservation Area, while addressing access issues for the utility," the CPA application reads.

"The project will also serve as the first city-owned parking area that incorporates environmentally sensitive design components by including both a vegetated and pervious parking surface."

Barkerville's lack of parking amenities was a driving force for the project. The conservation area is hard to access for vehicles because the only parking currently available is a small pull-off that can accommodate just two or three cars.

The area shares an access road with Eversource that leads to the Oswald electric utility substation, which cannot be blocked but sometimes is. The gate will have to be moved just beyond the parking area.  

"It was in 2011 that the city acquired the 71-acre conservation property off of Barker Road, of course, it's a publicly accessible conservation site and we welcome the public, although, since 2011 parking has been really tricky on this site," McGrath explained.

"Folks that access the site access it by vehicle off of Barker road at the entrance, where they're immediately confronted by a gate which is an Eversource placed gate, Eversource has an access road that brings them into the interior of the property where they maintain a substation."

When the project was being presented to the Community Preservation Committee for funding, the Conservation Commission sent a letter of support. It is anticipated that the public will also be in favor of the parking area, as Barkerville is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching.

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