By Andy McKeever On: 06:00PM / Sunday April 21, 2013
The Maple Grove Civic Club hosted its annual candidate forum on Sunday. The four candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen attended.
ADAMS, Mass. — Candidates for several town positions introduced themselves to the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday.
The annual forum gives club members a chance to chat with the candidates for every office up for election. This year, four candidates are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen.
First of the Selectmen candidates to speak, Donald Sommer, took aim at the Memorial Middle School, which is now vacant after the students were moved to the renovated high school.
The town has set is sights on short-term leases with the Youth Center and a local marinara company, Ooma Tessoro's, to reuse part of the school.
Meanwhile, the Selectmen are asking voters to set aside $50,000 for engineering for the massive amount of capital repairs required and create a reuse plan.
The former selectmen, however, says the town should instead use that money to hire a part-time marketer and reach outside of the county in hopes to reel in a larger business. He said the town should give the building to an interested company and have them make the needed repairs.
"I don't think it is a good utilization of that [building]," Sommer said of Ooma Tessoro's, which he said will bring few jobs to the town.
He pointed to Nuclea Technologies, which recently moved into a 1,700 square foot office in the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield, as a company the town should have made a strong effort to attract. Further, Sommer also disagrees with the recent move to tear down the former Albert's Hardware, saying the town's revitalization focus should be entirely on Park Street.
"Adams has never been able to support two business districts," Sommer said, adding the businesses on Summer Street are for the neighborhood while Park should attract people from outside.
Sommer also said he wants the town to join the Solarize Massachusetts program, bring in a farmers market and promised, citing his history in town politics, that he would "put my heart and soul" into the position.
Michael Young, the youngest of the candidates, followed Sommer by saying Adams has nothing to draw young families to town or to get people to stop. The town needs to have attractions to bring people from out of town to spend their money, he said.
"There are too many empty buildings. There are too many for-sale signs on houses. Young people, young families do not want to come to Adams," Young said.
His friends say they want out so Young wants to provide a financial incentive for young families to stay. More people will support the small businesses that are here, he said.
"I want to make taxes as low as possible," he said.
Meanwhile, he wants to sweeten the pot for young families by "doing something with the [Greylock Glen]" and "the empty buildings."
Richard Blanchard focused his four minutes on the type of representative he would be for voters. He said he would listen to the people and be an independent voice. He cited more than three years of attending almost every meeting, showing he knows the issues in town.
"I can listen to reason and change my mind if the argument is good enough," Blanchard said.
Further, he said he would ask a lot of questions and ask them in public forums so everyone else has a better understanding of the decisions the board makes. Blanchard says he doesn't like when officials tell him to meet privately in the office because others who may have the same concerns won't hear the answers.
He, too, said there needs to be a larger tax base with both new businesses and people. He also thinks the town isn't making the right decision with the middle school.
Blanchard says the Council on Aging should instead be moved to the middle school and utilize the kitchen area and that the town should put the Adams Visitors Center on the market.
"I think the visitors' center is also going to be a money pit," he said.
Joseph Nowak was the last candidate to speak, saying the town needs an "identity" that it currently doesn't have.
"The first thing people see is a high tax rate and a school budget getting cut," Nowak said.
Nowak says he has a lot of ideas ranging from simply putting in signs celebrating the town's claim to fame of Susan B. Anthony's birthplace, joining the Solarize Massachusetts program and supporting the Greylock Glen.
"I like the idea of having a nature center there but we need bigger ideas," he said. "We need to have an anchor business in this town.
However, he does have worries about an amphitheater at the Glen because of the disruption that would cause — such as traffic on sides streets and light pollution.
As for the middle school, Nowak says he'd like to see an entire wing of it torn down and be turned into a fenced in park area for the children at the Youth Center.
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The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
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