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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY JULY 14, 2021) — THE PLANET spent part of the pleasantly soggy Tuesday tramping through Springside Park. We did it to get a first-hand appreciation for the size of the proposed mountain bike development being pushed there by a tiny handful of backers for reasons not entirely clear beyond the selfish interests of thrill-crazed young bikers looking to break their necks.

The zealous backing of the Parks Commission, Jim McGrath, and Alison McGee — city officials, all — shall remain for the moment another matter entirely. We have found typically gregarious sources, particularly those connected to city hall, unusually reticent. THE PLANET would be the last to make accusations based on whispers, but such indications usually point to shenanigans your “representatives” would rather keep hidden.

Though the Special Interests pushing hard for this destructive project are minuscule in number, they exert an oversized tidal pull certain city officials.

Bought and paid for?

Signed, sealed, delivered?

Or are we misreading tea leaves placed there for our Braille tips by Mssrs. Lipton and Twining? Hmmmm?

THE PLANET has unearthed the progression of this plan to destroy a large central piece of the park. It began quietly in November 2020, shielded by a pandemic, initiated by school committee member Alison McGee. She quickly got the Parks Commission and parks director Jim McGrath on board. She already had in-hand plans for the development from builder Powder Horn, a private, for-profit company based in New Hampshire. The backers kept the project under-the-radar until April.

In May, THE PLANET ran our first column on this issue. Since then, opposition has mounted, forcing more crawlies to come out in the open. At the same time, the Special Interests have circled the wagons and, we heard, told McGee and McGrath to dummy up if THE PLANET comes for a friendly visit. McGee we’ve never met, though we remain at her beck and call. McGrath we have known for 25 years and have never seen him so reluctant and uptight.

Just an observation, you see. We could be wrong.

———- ooo ———-

Fortunately, the Best Friends of Springside Park, a group dedicated to keeping intact what remains of the natural state of this gem, got involved. In May, they received a huge assist from THE PLANET. Since then, we have been doing our own investigation and the deeper we go, the sleazier it becomes. A million questions hang over this suspicious development, not the least of which involves need, since the New England Mountain Bike Association, Berkshire Chapter, already supervises nine bike venues involving 400 miles.

Oh yeah. McGee is president of the Berkshire Chapter — just another of those “Pittsfield coincidences.”

We’ve said it before: “Follow the money.”

The further we try to trace it back, the more we get the sense that there’s a lot dry cleaning going on. Maybe it’s just the Chinese laundry that used to be on Melville Street making a comeback. No smoking gun yet, but THE PLANET has documents that shall interest Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski. We shall be sharing at some point soon.

The project has all the earmarks of “Done Deal” rubber-stamped in red on its cover. The only question now for the Kapanskis is this: Has the formal opposition come too little too late?

We’re hoping not.

———- ooo ———-

THE PLANET tagged along Tuesday as a small group of Pro-Springside preservationists toured the proposed location and then went to other areas to document damage that’s already been done by reckless (and illegal) bikers, ATVers, and dirt cyclists. Yeah, we know. They aren’t supposed to be doing that at all, just as city law prohibits overnight camping.

That’s why “the houseless,” as clueless councilor Peter White calls them, still make the forest their own. It’s also why the “armies of the night,” including a lively drug trade, rule the darkness. As Edgar Winter said, “They only come out at night.”

We also know that the city for years has basically ignored the health of the park, and the only reason we still have what remains of unspoiled areas can be traced back to people such as Mark Miller, Elizabeth Kulas, former parks commissioners Gene Nadeau and Chuck Garivaltis, Dan Miraglia, Royal Hartigan, Joe Kopek, Mary Jo Marchak, and others.

They are now in The Battle for the Very Life of Springside Park with the Powers That Be, the Suits, and Special Interests.

Which side are you on?

———- ooo ———-

The Tuesday trompers included THE PLANET, MRS. PLANET, Miller, Kulas, and Miraglia.

Our first impression was of the sheer size of the proposed bike track. What started out as a one-acre plan has now ballooned to three acres. When you walk it, particularly amid unspoiled Mother Nature, you begin to appreciate how much of God’s good work this unholy project will consume.

The budget likewise keeps going up, now approaching $500,000. Expect the final figures to be much more than that, since the evidence points to this as a “foothold” development meant to pave (pun intended) the way for much larger work.

If the project gets built, it will destroy an orchard of chestnut trees, beautiful meadows, vernal ponds, and disturb wildlife. Just in the first half hour Tuesday, we saw rabbits, deer, snakes, turtles, frogs, and countless birds. All that would be driven away by the loud crowd riding bikes costing anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

We also saw existing damage done by bikers, motorcyclists, and ATVers. Trails were eaten up; tree roots exposed; unlawful “maintenance” that included building jump berms where they cut down plants, bushes, and young trees; flowers, plants, bushes, and young trees crushed; and trash including empties.

Backers make the absurd argument that since the park is being used now for legal and illegal biking, it’s too late to worry about preservation. They say since other development (including what should a law-breaking softball complex rushed into approval) has eaten into the acreage donated to the city by the Miller Family in bequeathals from 1910 and 1930, what’s one more project?

Uh, hello!? McFly!!??

That’s precisely why the city should be safeguarding what remains of this gem.

———- ooo ———-

You will see from our photo gallery below what the building of such a track will mean to the land. This is all-out scorched earth deal involving a full-blown construction project. Check out these pictures and tell us if they remind you of the Big Dig going on at Dalton and Hubbard avenues for the new Taco Bell. Please, open these files and look carefully at what’s in store for Springside Park if the Powers That Be let the Special Interests have their selfish way.

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THE PLANET asks you: Is that what you want at Springside Park?

———- ooo ———-

Finally, here are some pictures taken on Tuesday.

From left: Mark Miller, Dan Valenti, Elizabeth Kulas, and Dan Miraglia. (Photo by Lisa Valenti)


Illegal power jumps for dirt bikes, mountain bikes, and ATVs. The digging for these berms have obviously destroyed countless plants, bushes, and young trees. (Photo by Lisa Valenti)


A rabbit on the trail up ahead. We also saw deer, birds, turtles, snakes, and frogs, all within a half hour of our visit. Can you imagine the wildlife we didn’t see? Who will speak for them about the monstrosity being proposed for their habitat? (Photo by Lisa Valenti)

An empty can of Genesee, representative of a class of garbage and debris being invited into the park by unwanted development. (Photo by Lisa Valenti)


We couldn’t help getting down with the flowers of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin, but look at their beauty. (Photo by Lisa Valenti) 




If you’re against the rapacious onslaught that “your” public officials — McGee, McGrath, the Parks Commission, and don’t forget the silent partners to all this — are trying to shove down your throat, now’s your chance. What can you do?

  • E-mail councilors. It’s an election year.
  • Write to the Parks Commission and DEMAND that they do their job and stick up for Springside Park.
  • Ask state rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier why she hasn’t uttered a peep? Same with the so-called environmental groups, especially the Conservation Commission, which has been notably missing in action.
  • Attend meetings of the Parks Commission.
  • Visit Springside Park, envisioning the destruction depicted in the bike-track building photos.

This type of scuzzy deal has been going on at least since the GE Consent Decree and the Civic Authority coup attempt. If you want to go back further, look only to Hill 78, the rejection of a downtown mall, then the move of BCC from downtown to Outer Mongolia — out by that gated community where the mayor lives. We can’t list a fraction of the “insider trading.”

Those “done deals” have been done.

There’s still time, though not much of it, to undo this one.


“If you gave me a choice between a Black-eyed Susan and a slab of asphalt, I’m a flower child all the way”Sir Donald Turpentine, Knight of the Bath.



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2 years ago

Is it true that the mayor is a graduate of the River City School of Municipal Investing and Urban Planning?
You know the school; it’s the one where all the courses are taught by Professor Harold Hill.
It must be true, otherwise why would every con man in the country be lining up to see how much they can take Pittsfield for?
We got trouble, with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for pump track!

Agent 86
Agent 86
2 years ago

Was there a carving on the tree near the beer can that read Gerry Doyle slept here?