Tom’s Top 3 for 3/19: Innovation Center Faces New Hurdle
The Berkshire Innovation Center, planned to be deposited on former GE land, must now get over another hurdle. This time it’s tied to the site's legacy of environmental degradation.
The Berkshire Eagle reports that before people younger than 18 are allowed to take part in the center's educational activities, the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority needs to first prove that remaining toxins on the property fall below allowable levels. Corydon Thurston, PEDA's executive director, called the needed environmental review more of a bureaucratic process than anything - and he is confident that the nonprofit center will be built as planned.
The $13.8 million center is entitled to seek changes in the easement, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. It notes however that work required to make the change happen could involve additional soil sampling and, maybe even further steps to remove PCB’s that remain on the land from GE's manufacturing of electrical transformers.
If PEDA cannot secure a change in the site's environmental easement, the center would be prevented from allowing the young people to take part in its tech and life sciences projects.
States Highest Court Will Hear Sides In Art Sale
The battle over the proposed sale of dozens of works of art by the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is headed to the state's highest court. Justice David Lowy of the Supreme Judicial Court is scheduled to hear from both sides of the dispute Tuesday at his request.
The museum says it needs to sell the 40 pieces of art, including works by Norman Rockwell, to stay open and refocus its mission. Several people opposed to the sale say the art is a public resource.
Lawyers from both sides of the issue will be given 10 minutes each to speak to the court in Boston Tuesday. The museum last month won the support of Attorney General Maura Healey to petition the court for permission to allow the sale, expected to raise up-to $60 million.
Berkshire Lightscapes Launches Fundraising Efforts
Berkshire Lightscapes is launched a fundraising campaign on Monday to match a state grant to bring a lighting installation to the Pittsfield’s downtown.
IBerkshires.com reports that the nonprofit committee organized by the Downtown Pittsfield Cultural Association was approved last month for a $50,000 Commonwealth Places/MassDevelopment matching grant. The hope is to raise the $50,000 in matching funds by May 18th. The goal is to create a modern LED lighting scheme for Park Square, City Hall and Dunham Mall at an estimated cost of $100,000. The installation would occur by August.
The Berkshire Lightscapes Steering Committee has developed a plan to create permanent, artistic areas of light on downtown buildings, in public spaces and connecting alleyways. It would be done at a scale and cost appropriate to the city of Pittsfield. The committee says, that in doing this, it will Illuminate the beautiful structures and public spaces, creating a safe, colorful and vibrant downtown Pittsfield.