Pittsfield Parks Commission Sees Springside Bike Park Design / iBerkshires.com
Parks Commission members are reviewing plans for the bike path on Tuesday but decided they weren’t ready to vote on the proposal yet.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A year after discussions began on the proposed Springside Park pump track, the Parks Commission has received a final design for the facility.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the committee said it was in favor of the project but is not ready for a vote as there are still aspects that need to be fleshed out.
In November 2020, the panel approved a concept for the Cycling Skills Park and has since been pushed back by opponents who say it will have negative environmental impacts and is inconsistent with the intended use of the park.
These concerns have not been reflected by city entities. In August, the Conservation Commission ruled that the location of the proposal was not within a wetland resource or buffer zone.
Similarly, city attorney Stephen Pagnotta confirmed in September that, if approved, this proposal complies with the Springside Park Act and does not trigger Section 97, which grants people the right to a clean environment and authorizes the Commonwealth to acquire conservation easements.
The bike park would cover 2.3 acres on the old baseball field behind the North Playing Field. An adjoining location was initially proposed and approved, but the commission later requested that it be moved south.
Its design consists of an asphalt pump track, a skill development area, a flow area and a dual slalom course for one-on-one racing. Additionally, there is also a picnic area and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance features throughout.
The proposal has been called a “pumping track”, but in fact it is only one of four features of the design.
There will be approximately 9,000 square feet of asphalt cover, but the majority of components will be constructed with dirt.
All the elements are meant to work together for an integrated experience. The park can be used by beginner cyclists, advanced cyclists and everyone else.
For maintenance responsibilities, a memorandum of understanding would be created between the city and the Berkshire Chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA.) The organization would pay for the project with fundraising and hired Powder Horn Trail Co. for its design and construction.
“I don’t think we’re in a position to vote on that at this time,” chairman Anthony DeMartino told McGee.
“I think we’re hoping you’ll hear from us that we’re very supportive of this, but we kind of hear concerns about perimeter security, whatever those options are, our landside, looking at the road/the parking lot, your end of it kind of looks at staged building blocks along the way and with timelines, and then we can, in the process, work on the memorandum because that’s obviously a big piece as well.”
The commission members made two suggestions on the final design: that a split rail barrier fence be replaced with a guardrail for added durability and that the pump track be opened first so that its popularity could be studied before the rest of the park is completed.
The suggestions were taken into consideration by McGee and Conroy.
Concerns about overcrowding and limited parking were also raised, as people would likely travel to Pittsfield for the unique facility. President Anthony DeMartino specifically sees possible problems in the double-handed slalom course attracting too many people or the need for large events.
The project is simply too big for Clifford Nilan, who argued for a phased opening approach.
Paula Albro was the outlier of the group, fully supporting it and having no worries.
“We are only talking about 2.3 acres in total,” she said, adding that there was a strong turnout from young pump track supporters at the public hearing held during of summer.
Earlier in the meeting, resident Daniel Miraglia submitted a petition that addressed his concerns about inappropriate parking in the proposed bike park area and parking in the wetland buffer zone.
Miraglia has also spoken out against the project in the past.
Parks, open spaces and natural resources program manager James McGrath said he had exaggerated the situation.
McGrath explained that the access road to the north playground has been maintained for 40 years and that its maintenance could be improved, but that the situation is not dangerous for the surrounding environment.
“Mr. Miraglia, I’m going to take a chance and say this, I think he’s overstated the parking situation here, I think his statements are misleading about the impacts of parking, but we’re willing to look into that,” he mentioned.
“Because let’s not forget that this area will not only be needed for pump track customer parking, but for the rest of the community that uses Springside Park so we can understand that, but really, I don’t don’t want anyone I think parking cars on the side of the road adjacent to a wetland is an environmental abomination because it’s not.”
DeMartino said this project would be a “very positive addition” to the park and it needs to be done the right way. The committee will discuss this again at its next meeting on December 21.
Keywords: biking, Springside Park,