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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Gailanne Cariddi: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, October 08, 2005

Incumbent city council candidate Gailanne Cariddi
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

North Adams – Gailanne Cariddi, 51, of 100 Galvin Road, said that during her time as a Bentley College student, responding to questions about her hometown sometimes proved as challenging as her course load.

When she told people at the Waltham, Mass.-based school that she was from North Adams, they would often believe she’d said “North Andover.”

Cariddi said that people would eventually get an idea of her hometown region if she mentioned a proximity to Albany, N.Y..

“That’s not the case anymore,” she said during an Oct. 6 interview. “People should be a little proud of that.”

Cariddi is among eight incumbent 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.

Cariddi is employed at Cariddi Sales on State Road. Cariddi is seeking a ninth term as an elected city councilor. She is not married and has no children.

Giving back to the community is a part of her motivation, Cariddi said.

“I’ve been honored to be a city councilor,” she said. “It’s quite an experience. I really try to do my best at it.”

Change and Balance

The city is evolving, Cariddi said, and added that whether people have lived within the city for 20 years or a few years, the changes are evident to them. The shift has carried the city from a mill town image to the home of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and “there’s a little bit of a tourism flavor to it.”

“[The city] is different every year, not just every two years,” she said.

Balance is key to city growth, Cariddi said.

“I think the one thing that’s the overall need is balance,” she said. “We need some of this, some of that; we have such a mix of people. Business is needed and I think the [Berkshire] Chamber of Commerce can be helpful, I think the IPDC [Industrial Park and Development Corp.] can be helpful. I think the city council can work with these organizations to help bring about, to create, the atmosphere that makes business want to come here for a variety of reasons.”

Mohawk Theater A "Cornerstone"

Looking ahead over the next two to five years brings focus to the planned Mohawk Theater project, Cariddi said.

“I think the main thing is the Mohawk Theater,” she said. “That’s a cornerstone, a key part to the downtown, something that when it’s up and running could bring hundreds of people, particularly people in the evening, right into the downtown. I think we have excellent prospects of doing that.”

Cariddi said the city is fortunate to have the support of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy “to help us get a little more money to kick that off.”

“I think it was a great idea to start lighting up the [theater] marquee,” she said, and noted that anyone visiting the downtown in the evening enjoys the illuminated promotion of events.

The theater “is really going to shine,” Cariddi said.

“I’m not going to say in the next two years, but maybe in the next five,” she said.

“You need these cornerstones, just like at a mall,” she said, and added that “cornerstones” keep people moving from one end of a venue to another, and draw traffic to the businesses situated between anchors.

"What A Great Facility"

Cariddi cited the city’s newly-renovated and expanded public library as a “cornerstone.” Cariddi was a member of the library building committee.

“The library is very important to the city of North Adams, “ she said. “It just had a major renovation, it’s nice, it’s beautiful, and if people haven’t gone to see it, they really should. It’s another cornerstone for the city, something we can point to and say ‘what a great facility,’ not only for young people but for people of all ages.”

Cariddi stressed that more than books are housed within the library walls. Children’s programs and public access to the Internet are part of the amenities, and the project was built using “green technologies” such as photovoltaic and geo-thermal wells, she said.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “Libraries are there for educational purposes and this [the technology] is like another educational purpose.”

Streetscape

Community was the backbone of the project and support of community residents brought the library renovation to completion, Cariddi said.

City council members and the city’s administration share a sense of accomplishment involving a comprehensive city beautification project, Cariddi said. She feels a particular pride about the improvements, and views the effort as a pivotal change, she said.

“I think it’s in making the city look the way it looks today, and I think the city council and the current administration has had a big part in making the streetscape become attractive,” Cariddi said.

The undertaking resulted in a more modern city “where people want to come, roads are open, and there’s not a lot of [traffic] congestion,” she said.

The improvements did not occur by chance.

“Part of the way we do that is getting block grants that come before city council for approval, to use block grants in that manner; also, you can do it in zoning,” she said.

A site plan review process established about a decade ago included city council input and the process allowed for changes and opportunities “that are showing up now,” she said.

Bring On The Ashuwillticook

Cariddi is an advocate of extending the state Department of Conservation and Recreation Ashuwillticook Trail from Adams to the city and toward Williamstown. Her interest is not linked exclusively to her city council role but stems from being a city resident, she said.

Cariddi said she believes extending the walking/biking trail would be a “boost” for the city. Existing recreational facilities such as the Noel Field athletic arena,which hosts the Joe Wolfe Field, the under-construction Daniel Alcombright Field, and planned improvements for additonal city parks mean that the city has an abundance of recreational opportunities; a trail extension would enhance those opportunities, she said.

“I think this is another spot that can bring a big boost,” Cariddi said. “I don’t know if you’d want to call it a ‘pet project,’ but it is something I’m interested in.”

“It’s not just for walkers and bikers,” she said. “It’s for older people, handicapped people, anyone can go for a small stroll in a nice area and not have to worry about traffic.”

Doing the Homework

Cariddi said she educates herself about pending council matters. During a recent council meeting, Cariddi presented councilors with dog ordinances from New Bedford and Marlboro after reading about a dog attack that occurred in the city and left several people injured.

City councilors plan to strengthen an existing dog ordinance, which Cariddi described as “a nuisance regulation, a leash-law type of thing” that governs barking or pesky dog situations as opposed to dog attacks.

Cariddi said she owns a miniature schnauzer dog, and is not supportive of any breed-specific dog law for the city. Any new dog ordinance should protect residents and offer some protection to dog owners as well, she said.

Her research into the matter illustrates her approach to council service, she said.

“That’s generally what I try to do,” she said. “I try to bring things of timely interest to the council so that we can talk about them. I try to hit all the bases; what’s the state doing, what are other communities doing, what can we do here to help make public safety a little more current.”

A city councilor is called upon to review, discuss, and often make decisions that can affect the nuts and bolts of city life, she said.

“As a city councilor, you have to wear a lot of hats and think about a lot of different things,” she said, and emphasized that city residents and city employees are often sources of beneficial perspective and input.

“It’s not like I have an office in City Hall and go to work there everyday,” she said."I appreciate all that people can tell me about different things."

Cariddi said that she is proud when she tells people that she is from North Adams.

“And I would be even if I wasn’t a city councilor,” she said. “I think anybody that’s from the city of North Adams should be [proud].”

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

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