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Sue Bush
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North Adams City Council: Donovan Out of Council Race; Cab Fare Increase Approved

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, September 14, 2005

City Council President Michael C. Bloom attended a Sept. 13 council meeting as a councilor; acting City Council president Gailanne Cariddi presided at the meeting at Bloom's request.
North Adams – City Councilor William E. Donovan Jr. of 74 Chestnut St. has announced that he will not be seeking reelection to the City Council during the November election.

Donovan surprised fellow councilors with the announcement, which came during a Sept. 13 City Council meeting. Earlier this year, Donovan filed nomination papers to seek a third consecutive two-year term.

Donovan Leaving the City

Donovan said that he is moving out of the city and will be ineligible to serve as a city councilor. During an interview following the meeting, Donovan said that he is planning to get married next year, and was seeking a new home.

“The hunt took us to Adams,” Donovan said.

Donovan was first sworn in as a city councilor in 1992 and served two consecutive elected terms. Donovan sought and won a council seat during the 2001 city election and was reelected during the 2003 election. Many city residents perceive Donovan as a voice for the community’s middle-income citizens.

“I don’t want to leave the council,” Donovan said, and stressed that his announcement is rooted in necessity as opposed to choice. “I put my heart and soul into this. I think that I spoke for the everyday person. I will really miss the council and I have always liked talking with and working for the people of North Adams very much.”

Because of the timing of Donovan’s announcement, his name cannot be removed from the ballot, said City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.


City Councilor William E. Donovan Jr. announced that he is dropping out of the city's November city council race.
Donovan’s withdrawal means that eight incumbent councilors and six challengers are vying for nine city council seats.

Warm Welcome for Bloom

Councilors delivered a warm welcome to City Council President Michael C. Bloom, who attended his first meeting since a weeks-long absence due to a health matter. City Councilor Gailanne C. Cariddi has been serving as acting council president during Bloom’s absence; she presided over the Sept. 13 meeting at Bloom’s request.

Bloom told those at the meeting that he needs to regain vocal strength before resuming the rigors of leading the council meetings. Bloom expressed deep gratitude to the many city residents who sent good wishes during his absence, and thanked Cariddi for taking on the responsibilities of acting council president.

“I want to thank the community for all the cards,” he said, speaking directly into a Northern Berkshire Community Television camera that was broadcasting the meeting. “People I didn’t even know sent me things.”

All councilors and Mayor John Barrett III, gave Bloom a hearty round of applause.

Five-Month Cab Fare Hike Approved

City taxi company owners were granted a temporary $1 increase in cab fares because of the recent gasoline price hikes. Zone 1 fares will rise from $3.50 to $4.50 and Zone 2 fares will increase from $4.50 to $5.50. The increase is effective as of Sept. 14 and is set to expire on Feb. 14, 2006. The increase is expected be reviewed in February. The fare increase was unanimously approved.

Fares have not been raised since March 2001, according to councilors.

The move came as a result of a letter from Mark Chittenden of the Veteran’s Taxi company.

“As we are no longer able to absorb the loss from the fast ballooning cost of fuel, we submit this request at this time,” the letter states. “In order for us to keep level with our fuel expenditures, we have concluded that a $1 increase in all fares would be commensurate with our basic costs of daily operation.”

Barrett urged councilors to act on the request immediately.

“Something has to be done quickly to keep these people in business,” he said.

Cariddi asked for a meeting recess so that an order for the change could be written, and she returned with an order for a $.75 increase in Zone 1 and Zone 2 fares.

Cariddi said that gas prices are coming down and that is why the order proposed a lesser increase than was requested by Chittenden.

But after several councilors said that they were prepared to approve a $1 increase, City Councilor Clark H. Billings moved to amend the order to reflect a $1 increase, and after the amendment was approved, councilors voted to approve the fare hike.

“We are all being pinched [by rising fuel costs],” Billings said. “We need public transportation.”

Fares and regulations governing zone crossings, multiple passenger taxi calls, and other situations were not raised.

Athletic Field Project Borrowing Approved

Councilors unanimously approved a written request from Barrett to borrow $550,000 for the reconstruction of the Daniel J. Alcombright and Greylock youth athletic fields. The revenues will be used to pay for the project’s first phase, which includes constructing a baseball diamond, two softball fields, two soccer fields, and an area designated for Marty’s T-ball. The field construction could be completed by June 2006, Barrett said.

Upon completion of Phase 1, the city will likely seek additional Urban Self-Help funds for the project’s second phase, Barrett said.

In 2004, councilors approved seeking an Urban Self-Help grant expected to bring about $500,000 to the projects’ first phase. The revenues awarded totaled $400,000, Barrett said in the letter.

According to Barrett’s letter, the city must commit an additional $400,000 to an initial $150,000 in matching funds.

During the meeting, Barrett said recommended that the money be repaid over the next three fiscal years. The borrowing and repayment is very unlikely to impact taxpayers financially because the city is expecting revenues from sources such as the sale of the Broad Brook watershed property in Pownal, Vt..

The field construction project is vital to the city and the many youth athletic programs available within the community, Barrett said. Youth sports programs are drawing increased interest and participation levels, he said.

“Our responsibility, I’ve always felt, is to provide the facilities,” Barrett said.

He noted the willingness of the city’s athletic organizations to raise money for field amenities such as backstops, and said he expects that cooperation will continue.

Barrett was also given unanimous approval to transfer $14,000from the city’s Overlay Surplus account to the Unclassified-Capital items account. The transfer was needed so that the city can complete a state-mandated cyclical inspection and data collection involving all city-based commercial and residential properties. The inspection has been partially completed and involves inspecting personal and real properties.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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