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Gov. Patrick Highlights Berkshire Focus In Lenox

Jim Levulis

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has just over a month left in office. The Democrat made his way out to westernmost portion of the commonwealth for what may his last visit as governor Monday.Governor Patrick was welcomed by thundering applause and gratitude at Lenox Town Hall. The Democrat, who expects to be spending more time at his Richmond home after he leaves office in January, responded with a “Good morning, neighbors.”  Patrick was on hand to celebrate a $125,000 grant to help restore overgrown Baker’s Pond in Kennedy Park, as described by Lenox Town Manager Christopher Ketchen.

“Soon Baker’s Pond will be dredged to make it deeper and more defined,” Ketchen described. “Invasive plants and fish will be removed. This spring, an abandoned and broken pipe will be reconstructed from the cold spring that feeds Baker’s Pond the way it was in the early 20th century.”

While the water chestnut and algae blooms are removed, Patrick says the man-made pond will serve as an environmental and educational resource.

“The town has partnered with Berkshire Community College to assist with project monitoring and implementation and then turn the pond and the areas around it an outdoor classroom, a hands-on learning opportunity for everybody,” Patrick said. “The result for the residents of Lenox and all that visit the park and the pond is improved water quality, habitat protection and a learning experience as well.”

After the announcement, Patrick met with the chairman of the Kennedy Park Committee, Bob Coakley, a distant cousin of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Coakley, who has worked for decades to restore the pond, showed the governor pictures of his father Walter and brother William, a Navy pilot who was shot down and killed in Vietnam, enjoying the water back in 1934.

Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC
Bob Coakley holds a 1934 picture of his father Walter and brother William, a Navy pilot who was shot down and killed in Vietnam, enjoying Baker's Pond.

“When my dad was a young fellow, all the young people in town used to swim there and play hockey there in the wintertime,” said Coakley.

Patrick also announced a $1.1 million state grant to assist in funding a multi-sport turf field at Berkshire Community College’s Pittsfield campus.

“This field will be the only one of its kind in the whole county, improving the lives of students, athletes and residents while also improving drainage and redirecting runoff to vernal pools and wetlands,” said Patrick.

The Pittsfield City Council recently approved $200,000 for the field, which will cost more than $2 million. The remaining funds will be privately raised. State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield says the field, expected to be ready by next spring, will also be a community-wide asset.

“Youth sports is one way that we can reach out to what I consider a very vulnerable population,” Farley-Bouvier said. “In the city of Pittsfield and Berkshire County we’re making great efforts to reach out to our youth so that we can keep them healthy and we can keep them safe.”

The event’s speakers all took time at the podium to thank Governor Patrick for his dedication to the Berkshires. Representative Smitty Pignatelli joked he will file legislation to rename Baker’s Pond, Patrick’s Pond, while BCC President Ellen Kennedy invited the governor to add professor to his post-office duties. Patrick said he has tried to be governor of the whole state, both geographically and demographically.

“That the governor pay attention to the not-connected or disconnected as well as the well-connected,” Patrick said. “That’s the kind of leadership we through this whole administration have tried to bring and I hope you felt it here in the Berkshires.”

Patrick did not seek a third term. Republican Charlie Baker edged out Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and is set to take office in January. One of Baker’s first visits after the election was to the Springfield area.

Governor Patrick also traveled to North Adams Monday where he celebrated a major state investment in MASS MoCA.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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