North Adams Committee Looks to Aid Volunteers, PermittingBy Tammy Daniels
09:24AM / Thursday, February 02, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Community Development Committee is considering ways for citizens to get involved.
Meeting Tuesday for the first time this year, the committee now headed by David Bond discussed an agenda for the future that included streamlining information on permitting and making access easier for residents to volunteer their time.
Resident Mark Trottier said he had been disappointed at the lack of communication with the administration after offering his services last year.
He said he became involved because of attending the Finance Committee and would like to do issues and complaint research. Other citizens, he thought, would also like to help out.
"Now that you have more of an open-door policy, just to know that it's offered for [citizens]," said Trottier. "What can you get from the community to help out?"
"We were trying to figure out the best official way for citizens to contact folks at the city and offer a service they have, a skill they have, a certain amount of time they may have and then we can present it to a certain department," said Bond.
The committee said there may be opportunities for citizens to help in the parks, cleanups, volunteering at city events such as the upcoming Winterfest or with local organizations.
Committee member Nancy Bullett, who also serves on the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission, said there could be opportunities to help up at Fish Pond and the campground. "It's new energy, positive kind of stuff," she said the commission is working on.
There are projects looking for volunteers, said committee member Lisa Blackmer, pointing to work done during the Martin Luther King Day of Service and the upcoming Community Service Day. While some of it is physical — cleaning, painting — different skills could be useful. Even an hour puttering around the city parks and playgrounds "keeping an eye on things," she said, would be helpful.
"If there are more people around, people are less apt to be negative and they're also less apt to trash the place," she said.
Bullett said the problem is "trying to figure out a vehicle to pool all of these potential resources."
Bond said he would talk to the mayor about possibly using an intern to develop a hub for residents to list their skills to be matched with local projects and activities. In the meantime, he said residents can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will try to get them in touch with the right department.
Residents should contact Veronica Bosley, director of tourism and events, at 413-664-6180.
In brainstorming initiatives for the committee, Blackmer said the panel had had a slate of resurrecting some form of the old Downtown Development Inc., developing a marketing plan for the city, creating a website and streamlining permitting.
Develop North Adams had taken over some of the DDI functions, but the committee had stalled on marketing and the website because of a lack of money and the departure of the former tourism director. (Current Tourism and Events Director Veronica Bosley is working on an events website with DNA.)
The committee decided that making it easier for businesses to determine what permits they needed to start a business would be a manageble, and useful, goal.
Bond said he had somebody from out of town go to City Hall as a "sort of a guinea pig" to see how the process worked.
"He got the runaround and didn't know where to go, because it's very difficult to say who's doing what, who's responsible for what," said Bond. "We need to simplify the process and hand them a packet specific to the type of business they have."
Blackmer said retail shops reopening in retail spaces, or moving down the street, shouldn't have to jump through hoops to find out what to do and people planning events should have an easy checklist.
Bond was concerned the city wasn't prepared to provide businesses with crucial information, especially online.
"People are looking around the globe for where to relocate a business and they happen to come across North Adams, I'd like to have a clear, concise way for them to find out what we have available in North Adams," he said. "We're not really competing on the same level as other communities."
The committee hopes to bring in employees and members of other boards involved in the process to discuss how it works and how to make it easier.