PITTSFIELD — For decades, volunteers manned the Pittsfield Visitors Center from a gazebo along Park Square, followed in recent years by various locations on South Street.

This tourist season, due to a lack of funding, the center was reduced to an unstaffed, self-serve operation in a small space behind the box office at the Colonial Theatre.

City officials say they are looking for someone with a highly visible storefront who is willing to provide the space at reduced rent or free of charge.

“Every city needs a visitors center and definitely on a prime street, not a side street,” said Sheila Pia, executive director of RSVP. The city’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program is responsible for staffing the center.

“We need something to showcase our uptown,” Pia added. “Our volunteers are upset they have no place to go.”

Finding the Pittsfield Visitors Center a new home is one of dozens of items the city can’t afford, but the private sector might be willing to pay for, according to Councilor at large Barry J. Clairmont.

“There are local organizations which already donate their time and expertise that would appreciate seeing projects the city really needs get done,” he said.

Clairmont was the driving force behind developing the city’s “wish list.” In February, the councilor received unanimous approval from the 11-member City Council for his effort to get individuals and businesses to sponsor city projects. Currently the list of city department head re quests include new picnic tables and playground equipment for city parks, streetlight banners and holiday decorations and various equipment and furniture for the public library.

“We recognize the challenge in fully funding some of these projects,” said James McGrath, manager of Pittsfield’s parks and open space. “We welcome individuals and community groups to help out any way they can.”

The estimate cost of the “wish list” items range from a few hundred dollars for computer software at the Berkshire Athenaeum to a new $2 million administrative/terminal building at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

Clairmont expects the public will likely tackle the moderately priced items.

“I would encourage city department heads to create a more extensive, inexpensive list,” he said.

 

As originally published in Berkshire Eagle

By Dick Lindsay