Publication Date

1997

Comments

The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.

Abstract

The purpose of this project was to provide the Morningside Neighborhood Action Council (MNAC) with reuse options for sites within the Morningside Neighborhood. The two connected goals were to develop reuse options for vacant buildings and lots and for the soon to be vacated Berkshire County House of Corrections and Jail.

Methods the studio team employed in this project include literature review, interviews, field work, inventorying and mapping. These methods allowed the studio team to gain a proper understanding of the issues, needs and desires of the neighborhood and to make recommendations based on them.

The studio team found 11 vacant structures and 18 vacant lots in the neighborhood, Of these, 26 were privately owned and three were publicly owned, The City of Pittsfield has been demolishing vacant buildings in the neighborhood, however the general policy is to not foreclose on tax delinquent property. Because 24 of the 29 vacant buildings and lots are abandoned and tax delinquent, one of the major problems facing Morningside Neighborhood is the perpetual existence of non-maintained vacant lots.

it is recommended that the MNAC lobby for more funding to deal with the issue of vacant buildings and lots. They should encourage the creation of an Abutters' Lot Program to systematically transfer ownership of vacant lots to adjacent property owners. Furthermore MNAC should consider forming a non-profit organization to best accomplish the previous two recommendations. The studio team created specific recommendations for each vacant building and lot. These recommendations are part of an inventory and linked to a map. It should be used to benefit and track the progress of all vacant parcels in the neighborhood.

The issues facing the neighborhood with the vacant buildings and lots are intensified with the closure of the Berkshire County House of Corrections and Jail. The jail is located in the center of the neighborhood and will be closing in around two years once a new jail on the outskirts of Pittsfield is completed. The jail and its property will revert to the state. Unless a state agency wants possession of it, the ownership will be passed on to the city. A major problem in reusing large public buildings is that they are usually vacant for a minimum of 10 years before they are reused due to expense, reuse compatibility, and inadequate personnel availability.

The studio team recommends that the property be demolished and the adjacent Morningside Elementary School obtain the land for much needed additional parking and a recreational complex. The MNAC should lead in the formation of an Executive Task Force, representing a public/private interest in ensuring the proper maintenance, security, demolition, and reuse of the property.

This report will assist the Morningside Neighborhood Action Council in having a voice in the future land use issues of their neighborhood. Enacting on the recommendations will be a proactive role in the revitalization of the neighborhood and community.

Pages

Section 2: Pages 1-93