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The Wahconah Park Restoration Committee has unanimously selected a Braintree-based design firm for the grandstand project

The Wahconah Park grandstand

A committee working to renovate or restore the aging grandstand at Wahconah Park has unanimously selected Braintree-based S3 Design for the project. 

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PITTSFIELD — The Wahconah Park renovation or restoration is one step closer. There is still a long way to go.

The Wahconah Park Restoration Committee approved on an 8-0 vote Wednesday night to recommend that the city of Pittsfield hire S3 Design of Braintree, one of three companies that interviewed to take on the designer services for the Wahconah Park project.

“We thought they all did a very good job and were very responsive to the questions the subcommittee asked and answered them well,” said Pittsfield Parks Commissioner Tony DeMartino, a member of the subcommittee. “We did feel that one company separated itself, connecting itself to the mission of the city itself, the focus on their scope of their business and their target projects. Their ability to engage the public in whatever project we wanted to advance or phases of that. They did separate themselves significantly.

“I thought, and our subcommittee was unanimous in this, that S3 Design meets the requirements.”

The unanimous vote sends the recommendation along to Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer, who will then put it before the full Park Commission for its vote.

Parks Commission Chair Clifford Nilan, a member of the Wahconah Park Restoration Committee, made the motion to accept S3 Design’s plan. The eight members of the committee who were on the video conference call Wednesday all voted in favor of the recommendation.

The restoration committee actually approved a pecking order for the three companies that submitted proposals. S3 Design was ranked first, followed by CHA Consulting of Albany, N.Y., and BH&A of Boston.

“The recommendation will be for the particular firm, in this case S3,” said James McGrath, the city’s park, open space, and natural resource program manager, to the committee. “If for some reason during negotiations, if we can’t agree on a price or scope or both, and S3 drops out or we drop them, then we have to go to the second recommended firm. Of course, there’s a third recommended firm.

“It’s part of the procurement process in how we have to rank these firms.”

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McGrath told the committee that since the city would like to begin work as quickly as is feasible, he would expect the mayor and the Park Commission to act expeditiously in pushing ahead with the recommendation.

“This recommendation from the Wahconah Park Restoration Committee would go to Mayor Tyer as early as [Thursday] morning,” he said. “She would turn that recommendation around to the Parks Commission. Parks Commission Chairman Nilan is, of course, part of this committee. I would think he would want to call very quickly a Parks Commission meeting — presumably a single topic Park Commission meeting — in order to endorse the recommendation that has come down from the mayor and this committee so that we can get a contract and get the firm going.”

Wahconah Park is, of course, the home of the Pittsfield Suns of the Futures League.

As of now, the plan is for the first “shovel in the ground” for the project will be at the conclusion of the 2024 Futures League baseball season. Whatever direction the committee recommends to Skanska and to the design firm, whether it is renovation of the existing grandstand or rebuilding, the plan is to have the project done for the start of the 2025 season.

“Two of the companies in the interview process seemed to stand ahead of the third,” DeMartino said. “All of them brought substantial experience. They brought multiple team members with experience and proposal plans for flood-water management as well as stadium design and alternate uses, different revenue streams, some different park plans and amenities that they have done in projects that were at least in similar scope and size to this. Each of these two did have a plan and articulated a pretty good plan in regards to building consensus from the public, listening to public input, listening to stakeholder input and being sensitive to the city’s situation. Not just financially, but in the scope of the project.

“The S3 group did that significantly better.”

The S3 Group had done work on the baseball facility at Rollins College in Florida, the physical education complex at Coppin State University in Maryland, the athletics and recreation master plan at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the renovations to the Prince Athletics Complex and Fauver Stadium at the University of Rochester.

CHA was involved with the Weston Athletic Complex project at Williams College, designed a proposed football stadium for Tufts University and did Joe Bruno Stadium at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y.

Howard Herman can be reached at or 413-496-6253.


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