The mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, says today’s visit by a member of Governor Charlie Baker’s cabinet represents the beginning of a new economic opportunity for the city.
Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton was in Springside Park in Pittsfield Thursday alongside Mayor Linda Tyer. He said he was “very encouraged to hear the mayor’s thinking on a lot of the parks projects, but even the greater vision of the way she’s looking at an economic opportunity for the city of Pittsfield.”
“Everything from yoga at Onota Lake to rowing to hiking, this is an opportunity to take all of these assets that are such an important part of our city and elevating that experience for the people that visit here and live here," said Tyer.
The first-term Democrat says she invited Beaton back to the city after meeting at a funding announcement for Berkshire Medical Center in August.
“We’re going to take a little bit of a tour of Springside House and Onota Lake, and so hopefully this conversation will spark some interest and a deeper conversation with our friends in the state, because we can’t do these things by ourselves," said Tyer. "We really rely on our friends at the state to help us push these projects across the finish line.”
Beaton says Tyer’s focus on investing in outdoor recreational opportunities mirrors efforts in his office.
“Recognizing the value of the natural resources that exist in Pittsfield and in the greater Pittsfield area, leveraging that, and recognizing the economic value of that and all that that could bring to the city and the region is precisely the way we’re thinking about it on the state level,” said the secretary.
He said Pittsfield distinguishes itself even at that state level. “Pittsfield is uniquely well placed — simply, geographically. It is an economic center in an area that has so much opportunity.”
Beaton cited the rare combination of both parks within the city and proximity to state sites like Mount Greylock and October Mountain State Forest.
“How do we maximize the opportunity of leveraging those natural resources, starting with conservation, and then unlocking the opportunity, promoting that, and enhancing those recreational opportunities, and the economic benefit that brings to Pittsfield and the region speaks for itself," he said. "Once you get people coming in here, they’re going to eat in the restaurants, they’re going to go to the fly shop, they’re going to go to the bike shop — that’s what we’re trying to encourage here.”
Beaton estimated that his office hands out upwards of $100 million a year in state funding to communities and organizations through more than 90 grant programs. He listed some of the projects for which Pittsfield has applied for funding.
“The Pontoosuc Lake Park, we’re looking at the boat ramp. The West Side Riverway Park, they have a park grant before us now. Springside Park, we’re looking at partnerships here to potentially help out. Burbank Park, develop a master plan. That’s one we’re going to go look at and hear the mayor’s vision of that,” said Beaton.
With that, the secretary was off to examine another symbol of resilience in Pittsfield — the Chestnut tree orchard in Springside Park that’s attempting to revive a species felled by disease. Not all of the 3,000 trees planted will survive — but the ones that do will go on to seed new growth across the Eastern United States.