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Spitzer Center, Armory Work to Begin This Summer
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
07:00PM / Thursday, June 14, 2018
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Work is expected to start soon on the Mary Spitzer Center. The building will get a new roof and heating and cooling system and an upgrade to the electrical.

Parts of the Armory have been wrapped in plastic for nearly two years to prevent water getting into the building. Bidding for repair work will be going out soon. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Work on the Mary Spitzer Center and final exterior repairs on the Armory should both be underway by mid-summer. 
The city is using Community Development Block Grant funding for fiscal 2017 to do the first phase of improvements at the senior center and the last phase, No. 12 to be exact, on the Armory on Ashland Street. The work on both projects should be completed by this fall. 
Michael Nuvallie, director of special projects, gave an update on Tuesday of the items being covered through the $825,000 grant for that fiscal year. The grant cycle runs 18 months so the projects under this funding will be closed out in December. 
Of that funding, $342,000 is going to the first phase of improvements at the Spitzer Center and preparation of a second phase of work. 
"Back in the FY2014 block grant year, we received money to do a building analysis and inspection of the entire building and grounds. We got this nice report and we've been using that as a future blueprint of what to do next," Nuvallie said. "The first phase we identified is roofing work, HVAC work and electrical service upgrading work."
Salco Construction of Pittsfield was awarded the contract at $278,792 to address the exterior and infrastructure improvements. The company has been getting its scheduling, permits and materials set and should start soon with an anticipated completion by mid-fall. The senior center may be closed or programs postponed at points during this construction period.
Caolo & Bieniek Associates of Chicopee had been hired to do the plans, and will next begin identifying work for the second phase of improvements. 
"What we would like to do is get bid-ready specifications and a good cost estimate and then narrow that down to what we can afford to do so we have something very bid ready that can be inserted into a future CDBG grant application," Nuvallie said. The next phase will likely focus on interior improvements such as finishes, window replacement and kitchen upgrades.
The other major component of the grant is the completion of the Armory. 
"As many of you know, the city of North Adams purchased the Armory in January 2007 from the commonwealth and we've been slowly chipping away at it trying to transform it into a community youth center," he said. "We've done a lot of phases of work. I've been in that building since the fall of 2006."
The $5 million project has used state and federal funds to slowly improve the former National Guard building. These improvements include total window replacement, roofing, repairs to the gym, installation of an elevator, a new sprinkler system, a  kitchen area in the basement, improved new office space, and a repaved and expanded parking lot. The building is used for youth basketball and other activities and currently houses the public schools' E3 Academy alternative education program and the North Berkshire Academy, a collaborative North County special education program. 
This final Phase 12 for the Armory will be a second repair on the stone steps and parapets. The work had been part of an early phase of the project and completed about nine years ago but the mortar began falling out and water was seeping into the newly upgraded interior. The city was unable to get the previous contractor to fix the failing areas because the guarantee on the work had expired. So, another $254,250 from the FY 2017 grant is being used for this final phase of work.
Caolo & Bieniek Associates also has been preparing the bid documents and the package for this project should be ready for bid in a few weeks. 
"The project is in good shape at this point," he said. "We did not build anything new in our FY2018 grant year so this would be the last phase of CDBG money for the Armory after that long consecutive streak for the other 11 phases."
The city is on its fourth phase of updating its Historical Survey, which was first done in the 1970s. Some $10,000 in CDBG funds is expected to be matched by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and is done along the commission's guidelines on how to inventory a property or asset.
"A lot of that initial survey is antiquated some of the buildings that were in there at that time have been demolished and when a property becomes 50 years or older, it becomes eligible to be in the inventory if it has some historical flavor or architectural significance," Nuvallie. 
More recently, the city has been using the CDBG money to "chip away" at the backlog. J.M. Goldson Community and Preservation Planning of Boston has been doing this phase and is about 90 percent; just about 100 properties or assets should be inventoried on completion. That would bring the total so far to about 1,000.
Goldson's work has been "very very thorough," Nuvallie said. "It's much more intense than the initial cards had shown." Justyna Carlson, chairman of the Historical Commission and member of the Historical Society, agreed, providing some examples from the lengthy current survey and from the older 1970s version, which often had only a sentence or two. 
"If you looked at the first one at all you know that the historical narrative does not look anything like this," she said. "They are just so much more detailed and thorough ... I wish we could really do an update but Mass Historic does not give you money for that."
The Berkshire Family YMCA has completed its full roof replacement. The YMCA building is owned by the city and attached to Brayton Elementary School. The city provided $75,000 toward the estimated $375,000 cost including engineering, which was picked up by the YMCA. The final construction cost came in at $235,990.41.
The city also provided $20,000 in social service funds for the sixth consecutive year. Berkshire Nursing Families, All Saints Church's weekend Meals on Wheels program, and Josh Bresette Commit to Save A Life (substance abuse prevention) each received about $5,000. The Salvation Army's gap program for youth received $3,000 and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Foundation received $1,916 toward preparing people to earn their high school equivalent degree. 
The Human Services Commission reviews the applications and ranks the proposals. 
"All five agencies are at about their 80 percent completion point. They've all had on-site monitoring conducted by [Office of Community Development] staff last month," Nuvallie said. The Human Services human services commission reads and ranks the proposals.
The balance of the funds, 15 percent or about $124,000, goes toward administrative costs. That amount is down from 18 percent from in the past, according to state guidelines. The city has been receiving CDBG funds for 36 years and, since 1996, as a mini-entitlement grant.  
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