Reopening of Pittsfield’s Fred Garner Park Marks Progress in Cleanup Effort
A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the reopening of the Fred Garner Park in Pittsfield, Mass. helps to underscore the advances being made by federal, state and local partners in the long-term effort to address PCB contamination in the western Massachusetts community.
Officials convened today to celebrate the formal reopening of the park and soccer field on Pomeroy Avenue in Pittsfield. Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office joined with Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, and other local officials to mark the milestone.
“Just as Pittsfield children will soon be scoring goals in this rejuvenated park, I am proud that EPA, the state and the community have reached another milestone in our efforts to ensure a cleaner environment for the citizens of this community,” said Varney, who toured the refurbished and transformed riverfront park after a ribbon cutting to celebrate the park’s opening to the public. “The progress we’ve achieved over the past few years - including restoring this urban park - is impressive, and it’s a credit to the hard work and commitment of the many parties involved in this huge endeavor"
The park was closed to the public in January 2005 and has been utilized as a construction support area during the cleanup and restoration work in and along the 1 ½ mile reach of the Housatonic river – between the Lyman Street Bridge and the confluence of the river’s East and West branches at Fred Garner Park.
In addition to the newly constructed and expanded youth soccer field, the park now also features enhancements such as a new guard rail installed around park, a new roadway and parking lot, a new canoe launch and a new walking path constructed along the riverbank in the rear of the park. Further, more than 1200 trees and shrubs have been planted on the park property.
Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto commented, “Re-opening this beautiful park symbolizes Pittsfield’s progress toward being the healthiest and greenest small city in the northeast. With this rededication we also celebrate the power of teamwork and collaboration between the EPA, the city of Pittsfield, and people in the public and private sector who believe in achieving positive results by working together. I thank you, and so do the families and children who will play here this season and for years to come.”
The welcome milestone of reopening Fred Garner Park also marks the progress of further work being planned to address PCB contamination in the “Rest of River” portion of the Housatonic River south of Pittsfield. The river cleanup is a key component of a comprehensive PCB cleanup plan approved by a federal judge in October 2000 for the Housatonic River and Berkshire County in western Massachusetts.
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