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Wahconah Park renovation moves forward

Presented with two potential designs, the Wahconah Park Restoration Committee voted unanimously to recommend a $30.2-million Wahconah Park renovation plan.

Historic Wahconah Park is currently home of the Pittsfield Suns (summer collegiate; Futures League), but it’s one of the most historic ballparks in the United States. Baseball has been played at the site since 1892. Opening in 1919, it’s a unique venue with the grandstand facing west, leading to plenty of 20-minute sun breaks during games over the decades because of batters directly facing the sun. (That issue was lessened in recent years with the installation of a screen.) It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, which doesn’t really impact any potential renovations or a razing.

Deteriorating conditions caused the city to shut down the grandstand for the 2022 Suns season, and the conditions impacted Suns attendance in 2023 as well. The response by the city was to appoint a restoration committee and project manager to oversee Wahconah Park renovation.

The solution, from Brookline-based S3 Design, is a new grandstand to replace the old, deteriorating grandstand in one of two configurations. There’s one big difference between the configurations: an “elevated” design would sit above the ground to avoid flooding, while a less expensive design calls for a ground-level grandstand.

Their recommendation: a more expensive design. From the Berkshire Eagle:

The committee got an update on the plans and saw final artist’s renderings of the so-called renovated plan and the elevated plan. The committee has been in favor of the elevated plan, and by its vote Thursday, reinforced that opinion.

“I’m excited. I’m encouraged,” committee member Bryan House, who played for the Eastern League’s Pittsfield Cubs in 1986 and 1987. “We know what’s in front of us now. We see what we can potentially help bring to this community. Is it going to take work? Is it going to take some hard decisions? Probably, yes.

“I’m encouraged at this point.”

The $30.2 million estimate also calls for an upgraded parking lot and other water-related mitigation. It does not include synthetic turf, which will be discussed later.

RELATED STORIES: Committee moves forward with Wahconah Park project manager; Wahconah Park in need of TLC; Pittsfield to map restoration plan