PITTSFIELD – Renovations to the marquee at the Froio Senior Center on North Street will cost $142,040, Barry Architects President John Barry said in a letter to Brian Filiault, the city’s director of building maintenance.
Filiault told the Public Buildings and Maintenance Subcommittee the existing columns on the marquee could be salvaged; everything else must be replaced due to water damage.
Bonnie Galant, acting director of the office of community development, said the city has included funding for the project in its FY18 budget, which the mayor will submit to city councilors this June.
Filiault said the Building and Grounds Maintenance Department has budgeted for $100,000 in capital in next year’s budget, with Galant adding that the city will allocate $50,000 for the project from the $1 million federal Community Development Block Grant the city receives each year.
The city has previously received more than $1 million from the federal government with the Community Development Block Grant, but Congress has reduced the funds in recent years, Galant later said.
“It is in sad shape and needs extensive restoration,” Barry said in the letter to Filiault.
The director of building maintenance said he initially thought the project would be simple, but has since discovered it’s not.
“It’s a total change from what’s there,” Filiault said. “It sounds awful. It’s something that should’ve been solved years ago.”
According to Galant, the next step in restoring the marquee is submitting the design work to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which must approve or request revisions to the plans within 30 days.
If the Commission doesn’t respond within 30 days, the city can proceed with the restoration.
Galant said she hopes construction will start this fall and the project will conclude by next spring.
“That’s a tight timeframe and something always seems to come up, but that’s what we’d like to see happen,” Galant said.
The budget prepared by Barry outlined $21,500 for contingencies.
“Until we tear into it, we really have no idea how bad this is,” Filiault said.
Director of the Froio Senior Center Vincent Marinaro said he’s also concerned about the marquee.
“A major snowstorm could cave in the roof,” Marinaro said. “We don’t know what’s under there. The lights are on and off. We’ve put a lot of working into that,” he said, adding that each repair costs a couple thousand dollars.
Ward 7 City Councilor Anthony Simonelli said he sees the danger in waiting to repair the marquee.
“God forbid somebody walks by and part of it falls down and hits somebody and becomes a danger,” Simonelli said.
Simonelli said the need to restore the marquee is immediate.
“It’s a nice thing for the city of Pittsfield, it’s not for ward one or two or six. It’s [for] the city,” Simonelli said. “We’re trying to put our best foot forward and North Street does look really nice. We don’t want a crumbling structure falling down in the middle [of the street.]
Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers said the marquee is a symbol of the community, and agreed with Simonelli.
“It’s much more than cosmetic repair at this point,” Rivers said. “It’s one of safety.”
Several subcommittee members expressed concern over maintaining with the restorations once completed will be key in an effort to avoid a reoccurring issue.
“Going forward, if it’s redone, we need to keep a check and balances in place,” Filiault said.
That’s something that Ward 4 Council Chris Connell said he would expect.
“The key is to keep on top of it, because it’s small money now,” Filiault said. “If we don’t stay on top of it it becomes a huge project.”
Filiault said he expects the new restorations to last 30 years.
The subcommittee referred the act of restoring the marquee to the mayor and strongly recommended she include funding for the project in the city’s upcoming fiscal 2018 budget.
This article first appeared in The Berkshire Courier.