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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Alan Marden: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, October 07, 2005

City Council incumbent candidate Alan Marden
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

North Adams – Alan Marden, 64, of 568 West Main St., said he believes that there is one arena in which he could top city Mayor John Barrett III.

“If they could develop a love meter, I would challenge the Mayor over who loved the city more, and I’d win,” Marden said during an Oct. 5 interview. “I’m in love with the city and I love this community.”

Marden is among eight incumbents city councilors and seven challengers vying for nine city council seats during a Nov. 8 city election. City Councilor William Donovan announced in September that he will be moving from the city and is no longer seeking reelection to the council.

Marden is a real estate agent with the Alton and Westall real estate agency and also works part-time at the Porches inn.

Marden is seeking a 10th two-year city council term. He is a believer in giving back to community, he said.

“No matter where in life you are, you have an obligation to give back,” he said. “Public service is one way I can do that.”

Marden came to the city in 1967, met and married his wife Nancy and raised his family in the city, he said. During the late 1960s, Marden served as director of the city’s Redevelopment Authority and was involved in urban renewal planning at that time. The city council recently approved a five-year renewal of the city’s urban renewal plan.

Tough Straits

Marden noted the early days of his council service, and noted that his path “echoes” that of Barrett, who was first elected in 1984 and took office in 1985.

“When we got started, North Adams was in pretty tough straits,” Marden said, and cited the Sprague Electric Co. lay-offs and mill closings. Downtown stores began to shut their doors as well, he recalled.

“That was the depth,” he said.

It was about that time that “the MoCA [Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art] idea was percolating,” Marden said.

Stay the Course

“A lot of people laughed at it and thought it was absurd,” Marden said, and added that the MoCA plan was about 20 years in the making and is proving itself after five years of operation.

The museum has changed the city, and now North Adams is recognized nationally and internationally, he said.

“MoCA’s been the engine,” he said. “There’s been a renaissance. North Adams has changed immeasurably, and I think for the better.”

“Nothing comes easy,” Marden said. “You do have to stay the course. And we’re doing that now on the south side of Main Street [site of the K-mart plaza].”

“People get impatient and they want things to happen fast,” he said of development. “We’re not a huge market. We’re a fringe market for some of the national retailers.”

The “fringe market” status comes from the city’s population and the amount of citizen disposable income, he added.

Set the Tone

The challenge for the city is “to keep the momentum,” Marden said. City government and the city council have a role in that, although the city council role is somewhat minimal, he said.

“[City council] can set the tone and react appropriately, as we did with the urban renewal adjustment plan recently,” he said.
City councilors are able to concentrate on the city’s infrastructure as well.

“The city looks good and the infrastructure is there, especially in the downtown, to support private development,” Marden said.

With infrastructure in place, private development and the private sector must “step up to the plate and do what they do best; provide jobs and capital improvement,” Marden said.

Common Sense

Marden said that he wants to continue doing something that he feels he does best; serve as a city councilor.

“Al Marden loves the city and works hard, and will continue to work hard, to improve it,” he said. “I think at this stage in my public career, there’s two things I that I offer perhaps to a more significant degree than other candidates. One is, now, institutional memory.”

At least one new councilor and possibly more will join the council following the election, he said. Councilors now serving often seek his perspectives and thoughts because of his longevity, and Marden said he believes that his nearly two decades of experience and background knowledge are assets to the council.

He’s had a “long standing economic development and community development background,” Marden said.

“I think those two attributes will serve the city well,” Marden said. “My campaign slogan has been ‘Common Sense, Uncommon Experience.’ That to some degree describes what I bring to the council.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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