Monument Square Has New Accessory
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Taylor's Restaurant Changes Hands
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An employee at Taylor's Steak and Seafood on Holden Street has purchased the restaurant and will make it his own in August.
Jared Decoteau has been working at the restaurant for the last two years, becoming good friends with owner Colleen Taylor. Decoteau had always wanted to run a restaurant, and when Taylor found herself and her brother and business partner Sean Taylor becoming increasingly busy with their own lives, what started as a casual conversation snowballed into a deal.
"It's a feel-good thing. It all unfolded well," Colleen Taylor, who also owns the Freight Yard Pub, said on Thursday. "It feels good and it feels right."
The transfer is pending the liquor license transfer that Decoteau expects in August. When that goes through, Taylor's will close down and Public Eat and Drink will open in the space.
"I was looking to start up a place and she was looking to unload one," Decoteau said. "It's going to be a little more casual. It'll be some smaller plates and sandwiches — a little on the lighter side."
Decoteau expects to go in front of the Planning Board on Monday for approval of his signs. He's already launched a Facebook page.
Public will feature "casual and inventive" dining with live entertainment and a late-night bar menu. Most of the current staff will be retained and the inside will be redecorated a bit, he said.
"I can't take over until the transfer is complete," Decoteau said. "There is a lot I'm still working out."
The new full-service restaurant will be open from 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. most days. It will be closed on Tuesday and on Sunday it will be open for brunch.
The Taylor siblings opened the restaurant in 2007, filling the vacant space that had been Gideon's. Colleen Taylor said the restaurant never went on the market because the owners had no intention to sell it immediately. And then the wheels started turning and the conversation became more serious.
"It was a good opportunity for both of us," Taylor said. "There was a seed that was planted. We weren't even looking to do that."
Decoteau said the two were casually discussing the exchange for about a year and the deal became serious. Now Decoteau will have a restaurant of his own and the Taylors get to sell the restaurant to a close friend.
"You always, someday, want to sell your restaurant," Colleen Taylor said. "We're going back to the Freight Yard Pub and square-one."
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Transcript Building Sale Gets Final OK
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Redevelopment Authority on Monday night swiftly approved the relocation of the Brien Center to the building now occupied by the North Adams Transcript at 124 American Legion Drive.
The three-man board has jurisdiction over a group of properties on the south side of Main Street including the former Kmart property.
The board had expected to meet on May 9 prior to the Planning Board but did not have a quorum.
The approval was a bit pro forma — the City Council has already approved a tax incentive agreement for Scarafoni Associates, which will purchase the property and invest $1 million into it and then lease it to the nonprofit Brien Center. The TIF requires the property to stay on the tax rolls for the next decade, netting about $21,000 a year for the city.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said he'd spoken with Brien Center's Executive Director Catherine A. Doherty months ago on how to keep the center's services in the city once its lease ran out on the Marshall Street building it currently occupies.
"We worked very hard together to make sure the Brien Center stayed in the city of North Adams because it provides a very important service for many clients in the community, and also that we were able to maintain them here because of the jobs that they provide," said the mayor.
The center employs 60 to 65 people full and part time; added to that will be the 10-member staff of the Adult Day Center, which will also move into the 16,000-square-foot Transcript building.
The deal maintains the building, the jobs in the downtown and ensures the city a quarter of a million dollars in tax revenue over the next decade, the mayor said.
Authority Chairman Paul Hopkins asked David Carver of Scarafoni Associates if the Transcript was expected to stay in the downtown area. Carver said yes and that he had approached the newspaper's management about what they would need for space when the building went up for sale two years ago.
Alcombright said having staff from the 170-year-old newspaper on Main Street was a good thing. "I think to have a daily in a community this size sends a strong message about who we are," said the mayor, comparing the paper to the hospital, college and airport.
"They understand the importance of that history so they are focusing on one of the spots on Main Street," said Carver.
Signage is the responsibility of the Brien Center and will be provided at a later date. Carver said he expected it would be similar to the logo used at its other locations.
The City Council actually approved the TIF agreement twice after MassDevelopment suggested minor changes to the language. The council also OK'd an application to designate the Transcript property as part of a economic opportunity area for the next 20 years to allow Scarafoni to apply for state incentives.
The TIF, MassDevelopment application and related documents can be found below.
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'Tent City' Raises Safety, Sanitation Concerns
The Board of Health heard concerns about the tent city planned for Noel Field this June. At the table are secretary Dianne Hein, Health Inspector Manual Serrano and Chairman David Polumbo, Brendon Bullett and John Moresi.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health will decide on the limits of a "tent city" planned at Noel Field Athletic Complex to house Wilco fans despite protests from local campgrounds.
A public hearing on the so-called Solid Ground on Wednesday night drew only a few people who expressed concern over health and safety issues. The board said it would take their comments under consideration but insisted that it would set the final conditions.
The city is proposing up to 300 tent sites on the soccer field to house concertgoers to the Solid Sound Festival this June 24-26 at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Solid Ground was prompted in large part by the dearth of hotel rooms and overflowing campgrounds at last year's August event.
Steve Daniels, co-owner of Shady Pines Campground in Savoy, continued to express his concern over sanitation and state guidelines related to the site. Daniels and other campground owners had protested Solid Ground last month at a meeting with Mayor Richard Alcombright and Charles Kaniecki, district health officer for the state Department of Public Health.
Daniels sent a large package to the board outlining concerns and referring to the state's housing guidelines in relation to information provided by Kaniecki. But health officials said the material didn't apply in this case.
"Ninety percent of what you gave us was about housing, about rented apartments, living space ... this is not permanent living space," said Chairman David Polumbo.
Health Inspector Manual J. Serrano said the temporary housing fell under the auspices of the Board of Health, which can set the number of tent sites and sanitation requirements.
"If we didn't have the temporary housing capabilities in the housing code, you wouldn't have carnivals, you wouldn't have circuses, you wouldn't even have the Big E ... that all falls under temporary housing," he said.
"I believe it is unsafe and I'm still protesting this situation," said Daniels.
The camping is being operated by the ROPES program, which is staffed by volunteers almost entirely from local police, fire and ambulance departments. Police Lt. David Sacco, representing ROPES at the meeting, said the group's purpose was to facilitate whatever whatever was asked. "If you want 12 portapotties down there we'll put in 12, if you want 24, we'll put in 24."
Local business owner Jennifer Barbeau said she hoped it was successful but wondered if the scale of the event was too much for an all-volunteer group. She suggested using Windsor Lake and History Valley Campground for overflow.
Robert M. Moulton Jr. said he was concerned that there would too many people at the site and about the damage to the field.
"Potentially, maybe a 100 tents could be posted there, where we have showers already in place and system in place," she said.
Robert M. Moulton Jr., also a local businessman and a former city councilor, also objected to the scale, noting up to 1,200 people could potentially be on the field damaging it. "I'd like to see how this goes," he said, but added, "I think it's going to hurt businesses ... I think there's more of a downside than an upside."
Any profits from the tent city will used first to repair any damage to the field, city officials have said.
Ernest Gamache, who operates a used-car dealership abutting the field, said he was concerned about policing and restrooms.
"I'm in favor of the whole idea because I know what this can do for the city," said Gamache. "But I've got a big investment and that's what I'm worried about."
"Our intention is to increase the visibility of police down there, Ernie," responded Sacco, who said there will be a regular police presence and command center in addition to the volunteers. "We are cognizant of your business ... we'll keep an extra eye on it."
About 140 tent sites, with a maximum of four people, have been reserved so far through the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; Historic Valley is filled and has a waiting list.
Palombo said the board will issue its decision at a later date. That will likely be next week when it also hears a request for a temporary housing permit for Northern Berkshire Relay for Life, which annually hosts hundreds of Relay team members for 24 hours at Noel Field.
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City, College Look at How to Draw Students Downtown
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — College students are looking for more retail variety and information about events in the downtown. They also feel pretty safe in the city and would like more recreational opportunities.
The data comes from a survey done by Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts seniors Corey Brown and Meghan McMahon, who presented the information to the City Council on Tuesday night.
The project, part of a class with professor Nancy Ovitsky, was designed to find out what would draw students from the Church Street college to the city's main retail center. Councilor David Bond had met with the students in January as part of conversations about how better to tap into the college's 1,000-odd population.
Brown said 160 students responded to the survey, citing they would like more restaurants (including a bakery and health food) and more retail outlets, especially sports or discounters like TJ Maxx.
"A lot of the students, what they're looking for is for businesses to stay open longer," said Brown.
Councilor Lisa Blackmer agreed that later hours would be nice but said the city had little control over businesses opening. She wondered if retailers were doing their best to reach out to students.
Meghan McMahon and Corey Brown, seniors at MCLA, said students were interested in the city but often didn't know what was happening or available downtown.
McMahon said social media was the best way to reach students now, a situation that had changed dramatically since she'd entered college. "It used to be coupons in our mailboxes but now students just throw them away."
Students want to do things in North Adams and the area, she said, but many venues were not easily accessible, such as Greylock Bowl. Students would like to see more recreational activities, such as bowling or a skateboard park, closer to the college and have more information about events.
"I think the students would like to see a lot more marketing to those events downtown," McMahon said.
In response to a question by Councilor Alan Marden, McMahon and Brown said they had not included Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the survey because it was a major attraction and the college was already heavily involved with the museum.
Both students and councilors agreed that the city could not be described as a "college town." Mayor Richard Alcombright said he was working with the college on coordinating sidewalk clearance during the winter and would look into more lighting around the Pitcher's Mound, which some students felt was unsafe.
He also held out some hope that the city would be able to move forward with a basic skateboard park at MoCA.
"We do see a great change from being a freshman," said McMahon. "I think we can make it better. There are other college towns much bigger than this that we could get ideas from."
Councilor Keith Bona noted that students will spend if they find something they like. He said the college clientele at his Main Street store had increased tenfold.
"I didn't think college students liked antiques but they do ... ."
In other business, the council:
• Put off a recommendation to adopt the state's anti-idling statute until it could be submitted in order form.
• Appointed Aurora Cooper, a student at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, to the Youth Commission.
• Referred to the Community Development Committee a request to change all or a section of Grimes Street to Cascade Way at the request of Cascade School Supplies.
• Read through a lengthy list of committee reports.
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