Public Safety Committee OKs Montana Parking Ban
The overnight parking ban would cover Montana from Hoosac to Bond, all within the campus area,
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Public Safety Committee will recommend the City Council amend its parking regulations to ban overnight parking on Montana Street between Hoosac and Bond streets.
Instituting a year-round winter parking ban on the residential street comes at the request of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts because of the instances of students living on-campus parking in the street rather than in college parking lots. The overnight parking reduces the spaces for commuter students and residents of the neighborhood, according to college officials.
A couple councilors expressed concern at the last City Council meeting that instituting the ban was forcing the city to deal with student parking rather than the college. They also noted that the city's winter parking ban covered most of the college's academic year anyway.
"If I had another option I would propose it but this seems the least harmful to everyone," said James Stakenas, MCLA vice president of administration and finance, at the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday. He said the college's public safety department would aid in any ticketing and enforcement.
Committee Chairman Alan Marden asked if the college was looking at long-range solutions for future growth, considering the construction of the new science center.
MaryAnn King, chairman of the Traffic Commission that had previously approved the request, expressed concern that students in the Townhouse dormitories were perforce having to park on the street because only one parking permit was being allowed with each three or four-person dorm.
Stakenas said 25 spots were being added across the street and that that college expected to stay at about 2,000 students over the next five years. However, he couldn't guarantee the ratio between on-campus and commuter students; this year, the number of commuter students has risen.
The committee also approved, pending approval from the state, the painting of the MCLA letters on two crosswalks on Ashland Street near the Townhouses and two on Church Street near the Berkshire Towers and its parking lot.
King said she had spoken to state officials who indicated to her that the state would not approve the lettering because of safety and liability concerns. The state must approve any street changes in the college area.
Stakenas said the college would still submit a letter seeking endorsement. "I'd like the opportunity to try."
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City Questions Parking Ticket Revenue
The city councilors passed a study about parking performed by resident Mark Trottier onto the Finance Committee to explore additional revenues.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city will analyze its use of parking meters after resident Mark Trottier did a micro-study of possible ticket revenues.
Trottier walked the city's downtown area for an hour and a half nearly every day for the month of July counting parking violations. He found 3,017 violations that were not ticketed, which he said translated to an additional $22,025 for the city.
While conceding that the study was on a micro-level, Trottier explained that it can be used as a way for the city to re-think its revenue sources.
|Mark Trottier walked downtown nearly every day in July and noted all illegally parked cars that were not ticketed.|
"I believe I have presented enough evidence to warrant an independent commission to be made up of three to five citizens appointed by this council and the mayor to look into not only this issue but all issues regarding fees, fines, permits and charges," Trottier said. "If you have the laws on the books then you must enforce them. If you don't enforce them, then you are losing money for the city. I only did this to show that there is lost revenue."
The city Councilors referred the study to Mayor Richard Alcombright's office to gather additional numbers — which will be forwarded to the Finance Committee. And for the councilors, it will give them a chance to reflect on how they envision downtown.
"I'd hate to have a revenue for the city be the people shopping downtown," said Councilor Keith Bona, who opened by stating his opposition to parking meters altogether because of negative effects on business. Bona operates a business on Main Street. "If anything, I'd like to see the opposite. I prefer it to be more welcoming."
City Councilor Lisa Blackmer said ticketing could discourage patrons from coming downtown and that those revenues Trottier found would disappear because residents will start parking in the free parking lots.
"They would feed the meters, they would move their cars or they wouldn't come downtown. While we might have lost it in the short term, it's not money we'd gain in the long term," Blackmer said.
The ends of the spectrum are getting rid of the parking meters — eliminating the need for a parking clerk — or hiring additional patrols in an attempt to generate revenue.
Trottier said the job would require a full-time officer dedicated only to parking as well as at least one part-time officer to cover the hours needed. The current parking clerk is working additional jobs with the Police Department, he said.
The council also set the preliminary city election for mayor for Tuesday, Sept. 27. Alcombright, Ronald Boucher and Robert Martelle are all eyeing the corner office and the election will narrow the field to two. Wards 1,2,3 and 5 will vote at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center and Ward 4 will vote at Greylock School. The polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Councilor Marie Harpin proposed opening the polls up at 7 a.m. instead to accommodate early-morning voters but was out-voted by the rest of the council. The other councilors questioned the worthiness of paying the election workers for those extra two hours, which have typically been slow during the state and national elections.
James Canavan was appointed to the North Adams Housing Authority to fill the unexpired term of Jennifer Breen-Kirsch, who recently stepped down. Canavan's term will expire in 2014.
"Jim has a strong background in public housing, management, finance and nonprofit organizations. He will bring significant expertise to this very important position," Alcombright said.
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Council OKs Land Buy; Handicapped Signs Coming
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night authorized the mayor to buy a section of the parking lot of the Armory for $1.
The .166-acre plot should have been included in the city's purchase of the former National Guard Armory on Ashland Street several years ago. Mayor Richard Alcombright said Michael Nuvallie of the Office of Community Development had worked over the past year with the state Division of Capital Asset Management, which set the value at $18,000 after an appraisal was done.
"This parcel is obviously very important to the project and while erroneously omitted from purchase, it was pretty clear we would have to pay," the mayor read from his communication to the council. He credited Daniel Bosley, former state representative, for getting the priced dropped to a dollar in one of his "last legislative efforts" and saving the city $18,000.
The Armory is currently undergoing an extensive renovation through the use of federal and state grants with the idea of using it as a community or youth center.
A proposal for a hawkers and peddlars ordinance that's been floating around for most of a year was filed at the request of the mayor.
"We've been successful just by monitoring them and running them through the Board of Health," said Alcombright of food vendors operating at events in the city. General Government Committee Chairman Keith Bona and committee member Lisa Blackmer concurred that there had been no issues to date. The mayor said he will meet with Bona and Tourism and Cultural Development Director Veronica Bosley to craft a city policy for vendors.
Councilor Marie Harpin expressed her concern over the continued detioration of the Hoosac Mill and the safety of the sidewalk area where parts of the roof had collapsed over the winter. The mayor said he would be meeting with the owner and the building inspector on Thursday and that jersey barriers would replace the current plastic fencing to prevent people from using the sidewalk.
Councilor Alan Marden asked about the disappearance of the handicapped parking spots on Main Street. The mayor said the spots still existed but the signs had not been installed.
"Everything we paid so much attention to for ADA compliance ... and handicapped parking signs were not drawn on the plans," the mayor said. "We've gotten that resolved."
In the meantime, he reminded those with handicapped plates or placards that they could park in any spot, not just the designated ones.
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Cascade's Request For Street Name Rejected
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Community Development Committee on Tuesday voted not to recommend a change in name for a section of Grimes Street.
Cascade Paper Co. of 1 Brown St., which has been operating on Brown and Grimes street for more than 80 years, had asked to change the name of Grimes to Cascade Way from the intersection on Brown Street to the point where it takes a turn toward State Road.
The business's offices are on Grimes Street, not Brown Street, said Todd E. Shafer, vice president. "It's little bit misleading because it's not our address."
While the company doesn't get a lot of traffic, "we put our street address on different things and to me it adds a little status to have the street named after your company as opposed to something else," he said.
"I'm pro Cascade," said committee member David Lamarre, who said he worked there as a teenager. "But from a general manner of principal, I'm opposed to renaming city streets. I don't see a real value, I don't see a necessity in it for the company."
The address change would only affect Cascade; all the homes are on or after the turn. However, several neighbors objected, saying it would change the historic and residential character of the neighborhood.
"It is a family-oriented neighborhood, not a business zone," Garry and Mary Robert of 2 Grimes St. wrote to the committee. They were concerned that a new name would indicate the company owned the street and change the character of the neighborhood.
John Larese, who owns his grandfather's house at 4 Grimes St., said the neighborhood had been named in honor of a family that had done much for the city in the 19th century. "There is a lot of history there."
Lamarre said he understood how it might be more attractive to have a street address with the company name but didn't believe it would "make or break Cascade after 80-plus years in business."
Committee Chairman Lisa Blackmer said unless it involved a public safety issue, such as the confusion over addresses on Barbour Street that resulted in part of that road being renamed Brayton Hill Terrace. "I really don't think renaming this street is a good idea."
The committee noted it had also rejected the idea of renaming part of Summer Street for horticulturist Lue Gim Gong.
Shafer said he had hoped that renaming part of the street would continue to honor the Grimes while also recognizing the Wells family's committment to maintaining Cascade in the city even though they have moved away.
"I thought it would be a nice thing for our company; the company's been there for 80 years, and I thought the owners would like it," he said. "The owners live out of state, they are not involved in the day-to-day operations but they are very proud that they keep business in North Adams."
Larese said he would support signage at the four points on Brown and Grimes street indicating the business and the location of its offices.
The committee suggested Shafer contact the Historical Commission to see if that board had any ideas on how better to recognize the company and its history in the neighborhood.
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Pocket Park Restored on Main Street
An unnamed volunteer, left, Barbara May and Kait Cornell look over plans for the park. Behind them is Lorraine Maloney, in red.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — On Saturday morning, if you drove down Main Street or past the post office you probably noticed a lot of activity going on at the corner of Main and Ashland streets.
A local group, Develop North Adams, and volunteers were hard at work rejuvenating a pocket park for the whole community to enjoy.
Coordinators Glenn Maloney and Kait Cornell worked for three months to plan the day. With the help of donors and volunteers, in the span of one day they transformed what had been a plot of overgrown bushes back into an inviting urban gathering place complete with chess table.
Why? "We realized that rejuvenating the life in our downtown was imperative," said Maloney. "As a community we need to have simple reasons to come together, we need to have a reason and a place to interact and get to know one another. If we are going to grow as a community we need to have a sense of community and make an attempt to know and like each other. We have a beautiful city center, a perfect place to walk, sit, chat.
"We also hope by learning to gather we could begin to support our local small businesses and shops better. We talked about benches and flowers. People came to me wanting to donate money for benches; we then realized that there was a huge amount of interest in the project."
A number of benches have been installed around the downtown in the past year and a pocket park created on Eagle Street in a lot left vacant after the Tropical Gardens pet shop building burned.
DNA has plans to continue, Maloney said.
"We have a growing base of muscle. MCLA's Community Day of Service is a part of the Greenspace Initiative, helping to maintain the spaces. Pat Wol has joined our group and will be working with the veterans agencies to put together a plan to better maintain the veteran's park. She helped us discover an unused park improvement donation fund; there will be some improvements coming to the veteran's park very soon."
Maloney said as the details are finished and the last bench installed downtown for this year, the group will begin to identify to the next project, possibly small quick projects and maybe one larger project.
"Our goal is simple: Get people to come together, give whatever it is they can give, be it money, time or positive energy and use it to make our community a bit prettier."
If you'd like to get involved, donate or just keep tabs on the group you can visit the DNA website.
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