Bianchi’s Debate Statements On Springside House Prove False

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In response to a question from Linda Tyer about the Springside House in the first mayoral debate of the general election on 10/8/15, Mayor Daniel Bianchi grossly misrepresented the facts regarding the most recent work done on that project under his administration.

Mayor Bianchi extols the out-of-the-box thinking that lead to developing a way for local prison inmates to become trained and certified in removing lead paint.

“This way we can take fellas who are recidivists, who’ve visited that jail more than once, we’re training them in a trade that they can use when they get out, and we’re utilizing them.”

Sounds like a neat idea. The only trouble is that “we” never actually utilized them. The six weeks of training for the inmates, that no doubt took place, and will likely be a useful correctional tool for the mayor’s close political ally Sheriff Bowler.

FACT: At no time did any inmates perform lead paint removal on the Springside House. As confirmed by the head of the Department of Building and Maintenance in a meeting with the Ward 1 City Councilor and a representative from the Springside Park Conservancy planning committee on October 1, the work that was performed involved power washing the surface of the house by city workers.

So Mayor Bianchi’s statement “We trained them, they became de-lead certified, and then they worked on Springside House.” is FALSE, and cannot be supported with evidence, because it’s already been documented that the only work performed this year took place by city workers from the Department of Building & Maintenance.

“The Springside House is an important city jewel.” 06/8/13

Mayor Bianchi should be aware that this is the case, as he just met with staff members for an update on the Springside House on September 18.

He must also be aware then, that this recent work on the house that took place: 

  • Violated the very Preservation Restriction his own administration put forth and the council approved on the Springside House.
  • Took place without any involvement or consulting of the Community Development Department, who have coordinated the development of the assessment, restoration action plan, and funding process for this redevelopment.
  • Took place with no notification of the Mass Historical Commission which funded the assessment and is working with the city on the project moving forward.
  • Bore no resemblance to the actual restoration plan outlined in the assessment plan that was developed and already partially allocated for, which the Dept. of Building & Maintenance has had a copy of for over a year. In fact directly conflicts with the specifications and directives outlined in that plan. [See example below]
  • Ultimately served no purpose, other than to further deteriorate wood which it has been determined will all need to be removed and replaced. Numerous staff hours were wasted, that could have been allocated to other parks grounds keeping activities as well as additional staff time in meetings to determine where communication broke down between departments.
  • Throughout the entire process the SP Conservancy committee that represents 5 different park and neighborhood organizations, and has worked closely with the Community Development deparment in securing the grant for its study and every aspect of the planning of its feasibility assessment and future re-use, as well as the Ward 1 city councilor, were almost completely in the dark as to what work was being done, other than cursory and inaccurate updates.

Every one of the above statements is a documented, provable fact.

-Joe Durwin, President, Springside Park Conservancy

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The house’s wood clapboard’s following the city’s “work” on the project summer 2015. Quote from the feasibility study and restoration plan prepared last year: “In order to protect the original historic fabric, the least abrasive method possible must be used for paint removal. Pressure washing and sandblasting are inappropriate methods of removal.”

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“When necessary, all paint must be removed to bare wood because the original oilbased coating has alligatored and is holding moisture against the wood.” -CME Architects.

Gaetani Guide For Voters: 12 Upsides If ‘The Water Wizard’ Becomes Mayor Of Pittsfield

Gaetani Guide For Voters*: 12 Upsides If ‘The Water Wizard’ Becomes Mayor of Pittsfield** 

#12 Every current city councilor will be gone because he has explicitly stated that he cannot work with any member of existing city council and “in order for me to be totally successful as a good mayor, strongly representing the taxpayer and rate payer, the City Council has to be completely eliminated.”

#11. He will be
exonerated on all charges
by August 19

#10 HE “WILL BE MAYOR BY A LANDSLIDE”

#9 Press conferences on his cool sun porch.

1406085151#8 Every municipal employee you ever didn’t like (and every one you ever did) will be fired, or give notice to ‘explore new opportunities’ and ‘spend more time with their family.’

#7 The new fleet of city employees that gets hired will tow the line and work really, really hard because who wants an unidentified person that is definitely not him or a relative calling and threatening to burn down their house.

#6 He will cut the city budget in half while installing all sorts of incredibly expensive promised technology AND being able to fund thousands of personnel hours in the new initiatives he has committed to

#5 We’ll be able to eliminate the city solicitor’s department because he is “better than attorneys” and will represent the city in court the same skill and dignity with which he has represented himself on the criminal charges

#4 Colin Powell might visit some day. He has a letter to prove he knows him. And we may get to meet his business partner Dr. Wang  (OR Wong ? depending on which of Mr. Gaetani’s letters you go by)

#3 He will kill the new high school project and “provide other options” for where the district’s high school students will go

#2 Kids will respect their teachers as he has literally promised on the record to take each of the 6000+ public school students in the district aside and terrorize them personally

#1 The new mayor’s office will be located out off of Holmes Road near the 4H fairgrounds, so everyone will have a relaxing space to walk off the PTSD after meetings.

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  *Though it uses a number of facts and direct quotes and links to actual local news, Gaetani Guide For Voters is a work of political satire,  in accordance with the understood social definition and all statutory protection and case law regarding parody and public figures.  It is not affiliated with the campaign to elect Craig C. Gaetani nor with any other campaign or political party, just my own brain and a lot of low hanging fruit.

** “The Water Wizard’ -term coined and intellectual property of Daniel Valenti, Planet Valenti Media, used here with attribution Fair Use guidelines.

PS- I would appreciate it no one threatens to burn my house down or even sue me.  Thank you. 
-Joe Durwin

10 Reasons You’d Have To Be Insane To Support Mosquito Spraying: An Open Letter to the Pittsfield Parks Commission

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To: Board of Park Commissioners, City of Pittsfield

 John Herman <jphermanod@verizon.net>,
 Clifford Nilan <clifford.nilan@jud.state.ma.us>,
 Simon Muil <simonmuil@hotmail.com>,
 Michelle Matthews <michele5610@aol.com>,
 Anthony DeMartino <ademartino@berkshireorthopaedics.com>

I am writing to ask the Parks Commission to please refuse permission this year to Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project to spray a dangerous mix of toxic, carcinogenic, flammable chemicals into Pittsfield Parks this summer.  

Contrary to what you and other local officials have been told by BCMCP in past years, extensive scientific evidence has been published demonstrating both very real dangers, and also a lack of any demonstrable gain, to truck based spraying of pyrethroid based insecticides.  The following are some very troubling facts about this program.

-Only 7 out of 32 Berkshire County towns participate in the Mosquito Control project.  To date there there has been absolutely no published evidence or indication of substantially reduced mosquito populations or any reduction in the likelihood of contracting a mosquito-borne illness through this methodology.
 
Pyrethroids (see additional citations below):
 
-Pyrethroid chemicals Sumithrin, Prallethrin contained in the DUET product used by BCMCP are classed as “neuropoisons” by the World Health Organization
-These pyrethroids have a demonstrated association with cancerous tumors in mammals, and ongoing exposure has been linked to blood biochemical changes in humans
-They are extremely toxic to bees and fish, and have been identified as a contributing cause to the worldwide ecological catastrophe of Colony Collapse Disorder
-Contrary to claims, pyrethroids can persists in soil for weeks or months.  http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/25677.pdf
-DUET spray also contains propane, napthalene, and trimethyl benzene, for a combination of flammability, carcinogenic and genetic-damage causing effects
 
-One of the *non-insecticide* ingredients in the Duet product used by Berkshire Mosquito Control, Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO), is incredibly toxic, and has been linked to delayed mental development in children in two major studies at Columbia and Duke Universities.  PBO also can persist for weeks before breaking down in the environment under certain conditions
 
-A  2006 study conducted in the Boston area found aerosol plumes of from truck based spraying failed to contact the target mosquito groups, and concluded that “may not effectively reduce the force of transmission of WNV.”
 
-A more recent comprehensive analysis of fourteen different communities  found that” The data shows that there is no significant difference in the cases of West Nile virus in communities that spray adulticides compared to those that don’t but use other methods of mosquito control. Therefore, the risks and the costs of adulticiding do not outweigh the benefits.”
 
-By way of risk comparison, in Massachusetts last year, there was 6 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus and 1 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, of which there have been only 23 cases in the past decade.  Furthermore there has been nothing to suggest that there is any geographical correlation between these cases and the absence of spraying, as a majority of cases have taken place in counties with more robust participation in mosquito spraying than in the Berkshires, where more than 3/4 of our county towns have not seen fit to participate in this highly questionable program.
 
Research continues, and truly comprehensive study of what the long term negative effects are of this type of blanket spraying of toxins into the environment has not yet been undertaken, but the existing data clearly demonstrates a clear and significant risk factor for human beings and overall environmental health.  In short, given the information provided, there simply is no rational, scientifically justifiable way that you can approve the taxpayer-funded poisoning of our local parks, in light of the absence of any conclusive evidence that it produces any desirable effect whatsoever in reducing mosquito borne populations.
 
As the Commissioners sprayingof our public parks, you have a massive responsibility to oversee and protect our park lands for the people of this community, most especially to its children.  I implore you to ask yourself if, given the above information, you can confidently approve this course of action as one that is at all safe or in any way beneficial to Pittsfield residents.
Sincerely,
Joe Durwin
Pittsfield Resident   
 
 
PYRETHROIDS SUMITHRIN  & PRALLETHRIN TOXICITY:
 
Estrogenic potential of certain pyrethroid compounds in the MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cell line
 
Estrogenic and antiprogestagenic activities of pyrethroid insecticides
 
U.S. EPA. Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances. 1995. D-phenothirin (sumithrin) -submission of a 90-day inhalation toxicity study in rats. (EPA ID 06905). Washington, DC, June 13.
U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1989. Sumithrin (d-phenothrin) – review of toxicity studies submitted by Sumitomo Chemical Company in support of EAP#1H45283 and EPA Registration No. 10308-6. Memo from E.R. Budd, Health Effects Div. to J.M. Tavano, Registration Div. Washington, D.C., Mar. 16.
 U.S. EPA. Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. 1989. Sumithirin (d-phenothrin – review of rat reproduction study. Memo from W. Dykstra, Health Effects Div. to J. Tavano, Registration Div. Washington, D.C., Jul. 27
Chemosphere. 2008 Sep;73(3):360-4. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.05.070. Epub 2008 Jul 26.
Human Health Risk Assessment for Prallethrin
Chronic exposure to pyrethroid-based allethrin and prallethrin mosquito repellents alters plasma biochemical profile.

All About the Green: Money and Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

potmoneyThough the new Registered Marijuana Dispensaries are all nonprofit institutions, RMD services in fact may be the most heavily “taxed”, per patient capita, nonprofit health service in the history of Massachusetts, in light of the DPH’s steep fee schedule, a fact that in my view played heavily in the murky and disingenuous process of licensing medicinal cannabis in the Commonwealth.

Already, the total revenues from the two phase application process have topped $3.1 million.  This is no doubt higher than it could have been due to the good faith of nearly 100 applicants that the DPH would actually do a proper job of implementing the voter-approved law’s intent, rather than grant about half as many licenses as anticipated and leave the less populous side of the state largely un-served in some sort of sham process full of cronyism & corruption- ie what actually took place.

It gets better though. Since the candidates they invited to reapply were not applying for the counties that didnt get covered in this round of approvals, they can recoup additional application fees PLUS another 10K “change of location” fee for each RMD applicant they’ve forced to change location.

The location change will have other costs associated as well, but the deepest of these may be the social costs to the public, the detriment to the communities effected, and the further delay in treatment for thousands of very sick patients.

As Nial De Mena, a director with the non-approved Manna Wellness in Berkshire County, stated on Saturday, “I don’t believe transplanting a higher scoring team that applied out east that has no ties to the Berkshires and no hard-won community relationships, groups that do not even know the landscape (available real estate in permitted use zones) nor have vision for the facility nor have an idea of the community impact will do a better job than we would have.”

Nonetheless, the fees will keep rolling in to the DPH, all on top of the $1.1 million a year they’ll make on annual registration off the 20 facilities licensed so far.   Add on to that a $50 registration fee per every patient in the state, or $100 permit for “hardship cases,” a number which stands to be greatly inflated if, say, you have one of the debilitating diseased for which marijuana will be permitted and, say, the DPH neglected to approve a dispensary within an hour’s drive of your home.

Gov. Patrick w/ DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, chief architect of the state's licensing travesty.

Gov. Patrick w/ DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, chief architect of the state’s licensing travesty.

Given all the expected revenue, at first glance it may seem crazy they didn’t approve a larger number of dispensaries…… until you consider the  many more millions of dollars from those in the competing pharmaceutical, health care and insurance sectors -all of which stand to lose some revenues from RMDs- that go into electing Massachusetts governors and legislators…

Corrupt DPH Marijuana Process Leaves Bulk Of Western Mass. Without Dispensaries

dph map

In the often-forgotten counties of western Massachusetts, some surprise was expressed when the Mass. Department of Public Health today awarded only 20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses, covering only ten of the state’s fourteen counties, to sixteen nonprofit Phase 2 applicants.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the DPH has yet again successfully stalled full implementation of the 2012 voter-approved law endorsed on the ballot by 65% of Mass. voters, which stipulates that every county in the state shall be permitted a licensed dispensary.  I say not surprisingly, because virtually every aspect of the regulation process has thus far been misguided and steeped in corruption.

The “panel” reviewing these Phase 2 applicants has been, from the very outset, a bit of a joke, consisting of 1 representative from the naturally-competing pharmaceutical lobby, a police official paid as a lobbyist to oppose the ballot initiative before it was passed, and a bunch of DPH employees.  Not that it matters, because as was indicated to applicants at an October 2013 conference, final decision went to DPH Commissioner and self-described “political animal” Cheryl Bartlett.  Though outstanding applicants existed in every county, Bartlett’s group somehow managed to leave a majority of the eligible patients in the entire western half of the state disenfranchised from this form of voter-legalized medical service by approving just over half of the expected number of dispensaries to be licensed in the first year.  With this, Bartlett has (almost, but not quite) implemented the bare minimum of that required by the voter-approved mandate, while being able to reward some long time friends and political allies in the process.

In the grand tradition of Massachusetts cronyism, it’s not surprising that about a quarter of the RMD applicants licensed today turn out, upon closer examination, to be run by former high-ranking state politicians and Democratic party insiders.

dph chart

Take for instance, the top scoring “candidate” for RMD licensing, in the DPH’s final evaluation, who were granted 3 of the 20 licenses: Medical Marijuana for Massachusetts.  This new nonprofit is headed by former state rep. Bill Delahunt, a longtime “great friend,” political patron, and campaign donation recipient of Cheryl Bartlett, and also features as an executive Kevin O’Reilly, former advisor to Mass. Senate President Therese Murray, another known BFF of Commissioner Bartlett’s.

Almost as well-rewarded was the #2 top-scorer, New England Treatment Access, Inc, which is backed by Arnon Vered and the Kessler Group, a substantial chunk of whose total political campaign contributions from 1995-2013 went to Massachusetts Democrats, particularly Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Even former Mass. state senator Brian Lees, who in November raved about what a good job Bartlett was doing managed to squeak by on the lower end of the high-scorers to secure a DPH license to operate a dispensary in Holyoke.

But wait, yes, I remember now, we’re supposed to believe that Bartlett did NOT hold sway over this, and this responsibility was handed over, at the eleventh hour, to a new medical marijuana program director Karen van Uten.  While this new official may lack the visible political entanglements of Bartlett, she is nonetheless an employee answerable to the Commissioner, an employee starting the job a mere two weeks before she allegedly made the “final decision” in a sudden, last minute change from the DPH’s stated policy that came just days after Massachusetts Republicans began complaining of smoky-room politics at work in the RMD licensing process.   That leaves us with either the option that the DPH Commissioner is an idiot, or she thinks we are…

I suppose, then, that it is worth remembering that Bartlett only last summer replaced former DPH Commissioner John Auerbach who resigned amidst the department’s deplorably bad track record of the past two years. The Massachusetts Department of Health *as an entity* has recently been at the center of massive scandals, which cost lives, put innocent suspects in jail and has cost the state untold millions, in failing to properly manage the state crime lab and in regulating compounding pharmacies… in light of that, maybe we can’t expect any better.

BCAC Giving Tree Needs Another Miracle This Year

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As in the past few years, BCAC’s ELF Giving Tree program is struggling through the holiday season to muster desperately needed winter clothing for over a thousand kids of low income applicant families in central Berkshire County this year.  While it had hoped for a finish date of December 15, it will now extend into the next week until the nearly 200 remaining children are sponsored.
I applaud the many different local charitable drives this time of year, and encourage all possible support to them. Without getting too preachy, making things a little brighter, especially for kids, around what realistically can be a very difficult time for many, is, well, probably the type of thing we’re on this Earth to do.  A lot of the rest is just ribbons and wrapping. In particular, though, I believe this 33rd year old, all volunteer-driven program coordinated by the Berkshire Community Action Council serves a crucial need. The Giving Tree, stationed at the Berkshire Mall these past many years, is remarkable in that it anonymously but directly connects the community with hundreds of real children under 12, children with names and needs.  The process of shopping for or donating for a specific child with a first name, ages, sizes and favorite colors gives back not only the sense of helping out, but also an opportunity to reflect.

Studies have shown that children who lack or have limited proper winter attire face many disadvantages beyond the obvious, limitations which have been linked to academic and social problems as well as numerous health issues.

Volunteering at the Giving Tree table this year, I saw a powerful awareness of this in the generosity of many, and so often from those who can scarcely afford it. Last week, I met an elderly veteran who had just successfully fought to have his rightful benefits, and one of his first acts with what “little extra” he could manage was to get to the mall to make a cash donation. These heart-breaking moments are the daily norm at the Giving Tree; the kids who ask their parents to donate for a poorer child instead of giving them presents, the teenagers who donate their slight earnings, the moms and dads who find a way to take on just a little bit more somehow, or the couple who lost their own child and came to shop for ones they’ll never meet.  And all these other people, people who just know what it is to be cold out there, to live at a lowest-legally-allowable quality of life that’s not actually livable.
Some say it’s the spirit of the season, but I think it’s the cold, too, the reality of New England winter.  This program is triage, a front line of the hierarchy of human needs, and the basic well being of children in our community… and for a few kids out there, maybe survival itself this year.
GT-Dec 21

December 21, 2012

7 Reasons The Springside Dog Park Plan Is A Terrible Idea

springside pretty
1) Incompatible with original vision & master planning for Springside Park
 
In 1910, Kelton B. Miller donated the original acres of Springside Park to the city with an agreement that the city shall “forever maintain the granted tract” along with promised land to be added later “for the use and enjoyment of the public as is usual with lands of this character.”  The Miller family, who continued to obtain and donate many more acres of land to the park over subsequent years, were major proponents of preserving natural land, and were instrumental in preserving many other large tracts of lands for public appreciation of nature, including many of the state forests in the county. Over the years, the Miller family has repeatedly objected to the occasional taking of this land by the city for other uses, and clarified the intent that Springside Park was meant to be preserved in a mostly natural state that would accommodate multiple uses, but no single-use that would adversely impact the others.  In 2007, Kelton’s grandson Mark Miller condemned the proposal for a dog park at the proposed site as a violation of the spirit of the terms under which the land was granted.
 
In the 1960s, longtime Parks director Vin Hebert proposed that Springside Park, which already enjoyed some of the greatest biodiversity and natural wonder of any public land in town, be home to a “world class arboretum” for display and education about native trees and other plants.  “At least one park system of a city should have horticultural interest, and this is highly appropriate at Springside,” Hebert wrote. Five subsequent arboretum master plan assessments and studies by professional consultants, from 1963 to 2000, echoed the wisdom of this use for Springside, above all others.
 
Numerous studies, planning documents and the wishes of the park's donors have always said Springside should mostly be limited to low-impact activities that preserve its natural beauty

Numerous studies, planning documents and the wishes of the park’s donors have always said Springside should mostly be limited to low-impact activities that preserve its natural beauty

“The idea of a single-use, restricted area such as a dog park violates the original intent, the spirit, and the letter of the deed, as well as subsequent plans developed by the city’s park commissioners and superintendents,” according to Friends of Springside founding member Royal Hartigan. “It is a betrayal of the Millers, and the public trust in what the park is, and the people of our city and county, whose public access to the core of the park’s beauty is an essential and unique part of Pittsfield’s heritage and quality of life.”

 
2) Will cost thousands in taxpayer dollars for this new construction, while even the most rudimentary park maintenance has gone neglected for years due to budget 
 
Even if a majority of funding is provided by the Stanton Foundation, as suggested in the proposal, the cost of implementing this project will amount to at least $15,000 dollars, not including unforeseen costs and necessary future upkeep.  Meanwhile, requests for such simple items as trash barrels and other minor expenses have been largely ignored, and park organizations have been told that even the cost of replacing simple signs made in-house by the city (such as those prohibiting motorized vehicles which have wreaked untold destruction on the natural forest) are simply “too expensive” for the city to take on, despite a cost of only a meager few dollars.  A request for removal or replacement of a broken and potentially dangerous bench has been neglected for more than a year now.  The city has allocated no funds whatsoever to support efforts to further establish and enhance the unique attraction of Berkshire County’s only arboretum at Springside, a plan approved by Mayor Wojtkowski and the city council more than 20 years ago.  If funds are lacking for even some of the most basic upkeep of the existing park, it is hard to see how room can then be found in the budget toward a new major capital project, and even more doubtful that the requisite funds for its maintenance will be available in the future.  
 
3) Poses environmental issues not suitable for an ecologically sensitive area
 
Dog urine and feces have a measurable environmental effect which is exponentially increased when many dogs are concentrated in a small area. Dog waste is commonly cited as either the 3rd or 4th largest contributor of bacterial pollution in urban watersheds.  Dog feces has higher phosphorous rates than that found in cow manure, broiler chicken litter or swine manure.  Dog urine contains significant levels of excess nitrogen, a form of nutrient pollution that is compounded when concentrated, and excess runoff can lead to serious water quality issues.  A 2002 study of a Colorado dog park found that native grasses (especially plentiful in the meadows of this section of Springside) accustomed to low nitrogen levels were unable to compete with nitrogen-loving exotic invasive species that flourished when dog waste increased on the site.  While signage at the dog park will indicate the expectation that owners pick up after their dogs (only feces, and not urine obviously), there is little reason to think this will be universally or even largely obeyed.  Analysis of other dog parks has shown that hundreds of pounds of feces can be left behind in a matter of weeks, and given recent park history, it is absurd to think that city maintenance staff will rigorously maintain upkeep in this regard. 
 
Additionally, further ecological damage to this area will be caused by the construction of the dog park itself, which includes the need to install underground plumbing for water access.
The proposed site of the dog park is flanked on both sides by wetlands and biodiverse watershed area

The proposed site of the dog park is flanked on both sides by wetlands and biodiverse watershed area

 
wetlands2All of these factors make a dog park extremely inappropriate in the proposed location, immediately adjacent to wetlands and at a nexus of several different model ecosystems of the Arboretum, at a site that is frequently used as a gathering point for naturalist programs for the general public and schools from around the region.
 
4) The decision process has been undertaken without regard for public transparency and community input
 
The original determination to locate a dog park at this particular site in Springside was made quietly behind closed doors by a hand-picked ad hoc committee in 2007, without any attempt to seek or acknowledge input from the public or volunteer park groups.  At subsequent Parks Commission meetings on the issue, no members of the public spoke in favor of this concept, while many spoke against it. It was voted in favor 3-1, with the sole opposing vote by Charles Garivaltis, who was then not re-appointed by former Mayor Ruberto. Funding never materialized, and attempts to raise funds privately for this project failed, demonstrating a lack of true interest and widespread disdain for the plan as approved.
 
When an outside funding source for a large portion of the project was finally found, in the form of a private dog park foundation who will oversee and control much of the process, preparations quietly resumed.  Springside Park organizations were finally notified that this resumed effort had progressed significantly just one week before a city council vote to accept a grant for design of this dog park, and at a meeting on Saturday were informed that while public input is nominally “welcome,” it would have zero impact  on the decision of where to locate the proposed dog park, and that ultimately this call would be made by a landscape architect hired through this design grant, sounding suspiciously like a foregone conclusion that would conform to the opinion (of officials, not of the public) already advanced.
 
5) Plan lacks community support and is opposed by the volunteer organizations who actually take care of Springside Park.
 
Since the first attempt to move this forward by a small group within city government 6 years ago, it was unanimously opposed by the Friends of Springside Park and the Vincent Hebert Arboretum, and some members of the Springside Greenhouse Group and Morningside Initiative have now joined this chorus.  Just in the past year, the decades-old Friends of Springside and Arboretum on their own have contributed more than 1,000 hours of labor to clean up, maintain, improve and beautify Springside Park, far more work-hours than all city staff combined. It is probably safe to say that no one knows the park, its users, its needs and appropriate uses than the very organizations who conduct all of their activities toward maintaining the park for the good of all residents.  Those who arguably know better than any what best suits the future of Pittsfield’s largest park are entirely opposed to the plan *as currently proposed.*   This input has been entirely overlooked by a small number of decision makers in advancing the plan anyway.
 
In addition to park groups, other parties with knowledge of this plan have also concurred that the proposed location in this iconic, historic area of the park is a poor choice.
 
6) Pittsfield has numerous other recreational areas more fitting for a dog park
 
The city contains some 30 parks and playgrounds other than the one that has been designated for the preservation and appreciation of nature, which the state has identified as having prime agricultural soils, and which serves as the most intensive constant site of ecological education for students from elementary school to college. Additionally, Springside Park is the only Pittsfield park on the National Register of Historic Places, and which the city just recently entered into a Preservation Restriction with the Commonwealth.
In some of these alternate open spaces, a dog park is not only more appropriate, but actually desired by residents, in contrast to the widespread opposition at Springside. For instance, an online poll conducted by former Ward 4 city council Michael Ward found that 83% of his constituents desired a dog park at Kirvin Park.  
 The decision to try to site this project at the core of Springside Park, where it is strongly opposed, versus other neighborhood parks favored by many, is hard to understand, except in terms of the haste in which cursory site visits were conducted as part of the Parks Commission subcommittee process in 2007, a speedy evaluation that has not since been revisited for this new project.
 
 
7) This development is being touted as a “solution” to a perceived problem of off-leash dog walking at Springside Park, but there is no logical reason to believe there is any correlation between the two.
dog park
 
“I would walk on a path system through woods with strategically placed trash barrels spread over the entire Springside Park.  That’s doable…designated  dog paths,” said Pat Pritchard, Co-President of the Springside Greenhouse Group and an avid dog walker   “It would be less costly and more human and dog friendly.  An enclosed area with strange dogs running around is a very bad idea.”
 
Diverse opinions on the complexities of canine psychology aside, even common sense should dictate that the long scenic rambles through hundreds of acres of wooded trails, as is the habit of virtually all dog walkers currently, is a completely different animal than running dogs about in a less-than-one-acre fenced in patch of dirt.  While a demand for both may well exist in Pittsfield, it is absurd to suggest they are the same thing, or that the latter would replace the former activity for most dog owners.
__________
__________
Conclusion:
It is time for the city to go back to the drawing board on this project, and restart the planning process with an open, inclusive discussion that has never taken place, one which takes into account the opinions and voices of Pittsfield residents and park advocates, as opposed to just a tiny handful of city staff and officials deciding without asking anyone.

 —

ADDENDUM:  While the original project ok’d 3-1 by the Parks Commission was dubbed an experimental “pilot” program that called for simply an $8,000 fence which could be removed if unsuccessful, this new proposal calls for a $150,000+ major construction which cannot be easily or cheaply undone, if at all.  Source: Berkshire Eagle, 2/13/08  As such, this completely new, completely different proposal has never been voted on by the city’s Parks Commission, and therefore a request to the city council to approve a grant for its design is premature for a project which has never been properly put out for public input or approved by that board.  The City Council therefore, has a procedural obligation to refer the request for this project back to the Parks Commission, hopefully with an emphatic message that said body invite, and listen to, input from the public, in a way that was not done during the approval of the previous  smaller-scale project.