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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Robert R. Moulton Jr.: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, October 13, 2005

Icumbent city council candidate Robert R. Moulton Jr.
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

North Adams – Robert R. Moulton Jr., 49, of 1362 Massachusetts Avenue, said that he is proud of the city and all that has been accomplished within the past decade.

City Mayor John Barrett III has done a “great job” of generating interest in the city and creating an attractive community, he said.

“We have the flowers on Main Street, and our Main Street looks absolutely terrific,” Moulton said during an Oct. 11 interview. “You’ve got MoCA [Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art] down here, you’ve got the Steeplecats [baseball team] down here, the library; the things that have been done over the past 10 years are amazing.”

Major improvements to city streets and sidewalks have added to the city’s appeal, he said.

Moulton is seeking a third two-year city council term. He 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 earlier this month that he will be moving from the city and is no longer seeking reelection to the council.

Moulton is the president of the family-owned and operated Spectacle Shop on Main Street, and is a co-owner of Moulton’s Pizzeria on the corner of Main and Eagle streets. He is married to Bonny Moulton and the couple has two children.

A city native, Moulton said that he believes in North Adams and wants to devote his energies toward continued improvements.

“I’d like to see North Adams keep progressing on the track it’s going,” Moulton said. “I always felt I had something to offer to the city.”

Vested Interest

His family has operated the optical and hearing device shop for three generations in the downtown, Moulton said. The years on Main Street led to an appreciation of the city and its people, he said.

“The city’s been good to us,” he said. “I have an interest in local politics and trying to get things done, especially in the downtown. We have a vested interest here.”

Moulton’s vision is to see a K-mart development project completed, whether it is retail or housing focused, he said. The city has come “a long way” and has a lot to offer, he said. With beautification and infrastructure endeavors either completed or underway, it is time for others to show their confidence in the city, he said.

“Now it comes more to the local investors, out of town investors, local landlords, they all have to work together to get some kind of vibrant retail downtown,” Moulton said. “There needs to be an anchor, which I think would be the Mohawk Theater. The potential is terrific.”

Mohawk Theater

The theater is slated to undergo a major renovation. Moulton said that once completed, the possible uses are staggering. The building could be used as a convention center, a performing arts center, a movie house, as well as host plays and film festivals. Special events could be showcased there as well, he said.

“I envision a Laurel and Hardy week; you could have a horror film week down there.”

The venue could also host numerous children’s events and performances, he said.

A theater presence bodes very well for the downtown, Moulton said.

“It brings people downtown, it helps businesses, it gets people into the restaurants, out walking around downtown,” he said.

A restored, revitalized theater would provide a significant downtown destination point, Moulton said.

“Everybody would benefit from that,” he said.

When open and active, the theater would enhance downtown events already in place such as the Mayor’s Downtown Celebration, the Fall Foliage Parade, First Friday events, and other community-oriented activities. People who attend downtown events are often pleased by the area’s attractive look, he said.

“Everyone comments on it,” Moulton said, and added that during the Oct. 2 parade, he encountered people who haven’t visited the city during recent years.

“I talk to people who haven’t been back in years and they are always amazed [at the downtown aesthetics],” he said.

Downtown Housing

Creating housing within the downtown area is vital to economic growth, Moulton said.

“That’s what’s going to make the downtown vibrant, to have people down there, have them shop down there,” he said.

Local property owner David Carver of Scarafoni Realty has stepped up to the downtown business and housing plate, and continues to do so, Moulton said.

“I know he’s spent millions of dollars over the past 10 years and made some beautiful apartments, beautiful condominiums,” Moulton said. “We still have that north side of Main Street with a lot of potential. I don’t know how many apartments could be in there but I know that’s Scarafoni Realty’s plans for the downtown.”

Generating additional business and getting a project underway at the K-mart site would round out the downtown, Moulton said.

"We Are Our Best Advertisement"

Moulton said that he believes that the future of city employment relies on small firms that employ small groups of people. The Northern Berkshire region may have missed some opportunities after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City, Moulton said.

Moulton was a liaison to the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce during that time, he said.

During the months following terrorist attacks in New York City, there were a number of businesses and individuals who wanted to move from that region. The Northern Berkshires was poised to serve as a new home to those interested in relocating, Moulton said.

“The timing was right,” he said. “I asked them [chamber members] about it, and they didn’t want to seem predatory, they said. But I think there was an opportunity that was missed, just because of the way of life we have up here. It would have been terrific. That’s by the board, it didn’t happen, and that’s OK. A lot of people have come to this town and they’ve invested in this town.”

People coming to the community have purchased commercial and residential properties and have launched businesses, Moulton said.

“So it’s the city’s job to get people to come here and once people come here, I think a lot of people just fall in love with North Adams,” he said. “We are our best advertisement.”

Hat's Off

The city’s public service capabilities were brought to the forefront during Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, when about 8 inches of rain pounded the community and caused a deluge of emergency situations, including the evacuation of Beaver Street. City police officers, firefighters, and other employees worked round the clock to keep the city residents safe, Moulton said.

“I happened to be downtown at the pizzeria and you just saw these people going by in their trucks, the fire trucks, the police cars, all night long,” he said. “They do an absolutely terrific job. Unless you’re out there and see what’s going on – hats off to you guys. You do a wonderful job.”

Moulton said that type of response is the norm for the city, and cited city road conditions during snowstorms.

“I travel a lot of communities on a daily basis,” he said. “You can always tell when you are in North Adams. We have by far the best streets. These guys work their tails off. There’s not a lot of ‘em but my hat’s off to them. City services; there’s nothing but laurels for those people.”

Dog Ordinance

Moulton cited recent council work to develop an ordinance to govern vicious dogs. Several people were injured during the late summer when a pit bull attacked a young woman, and councilors are working to construct a regulation that deals specifically with dogs deemed to be dangerous.

Moulton said he does not support crafting a breed-specific ordinance.

“I guess any dog that bites is a ‘vicious dog,’” he said. “I’ve been bitten twice in my life. I’ve been bitten by a German Shepherd and a beagle.”

Moulton said that in many cases, a dog’s conduct directly reflects on its owner.

A Business Niche

His business expertise and his downtown interest and experience are valuable assets to the city council and the community, Moulton said.

“I’m 49 years old and I’ve been involved in North Adams all my life,” he said. “I’ve been in a family-run business in the downtown. I’ve spent my whole life on Main Street, either here or Bennington [the family owns an optical store in Bennington, Vt.]. Business is my niche.”

Moulton said that he is prepared to serve the community well if reelected.

“I think I work hard,” he said. “I think I’m in touch with local issues. This is my community as much as it is yours, and I would want nothing more than the best for North Adams. I hope to be part of that. I’m looking forward to serving my third term.”

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