North Adams Sends Diagonal Parking Plan to Committee

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Several councilors spoke in favor of diagonal parking.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The proposal for diagonal parking on Main Street was referred to the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday night but not until after more than 20 minutes of debate at City Council.

The yearlong parking experiment planned for the north side of Main Street ran again into objections from Councilor John Barrett III, who described it as "the craziest idea I've seen come forward."

Barrett said previous attempts at diagonal parking had been sparked by downtown parking problems that no longer exist. Putting in diagonal parking without a study would cause "havoc," he said and doesn't take into account the desires of the public.

Councilors David Bond and Keith Bona said they have heard repeatedly from businesses in the downtown that there was a desire for more parking. Bond, who works for major property owner Scarafoni Associates, said there is a serious problem with safety because of the speed of traffic.

"We need traffic calming measures," said Bond, adding afterward, "If it doesn't work, we go back."

Bona, who owns a business that would not be included in the new parking plan, said he frequently hears from people about the difficulty of finding parking spots and parallel parking. "Customers want convenience," he said.

Barrett said diagonal parking had been looked at in 2007 when the streetscape project was being formulated but there was no desire to move it forward. The public's needs should be foremost, not the businesses, he said.

Councilor Lisa Blackmer countered that without the businesses, there's no reason to go downtown.

"I hope the public shows up [at the Public Safety Committee meeting] and says what they think," she said. "I have heard people complaining that it's too fast, that there aren't enough spots."

Mayor Richard Alcombright said a lot of thought had been put into the plan and pointed to its success in Lee, Northampton and Greenfield.

"It's never been a problem but it did create a slow traffic environment," he said, adding that while safety was the paramount issue, "we want people to stop and shop."

In other business:

► The council referred a report on delinquent taxes from the mayor's office to the Finance Committee. Administrative Officer Michael Canales said he is the process of distinguishing between the late payments to determine consistencies and will also provide the committee with state laws on collections.

► Approved a motion to have Scanlon & Associates attend the next council meeting, or the one after, to answer questions about the city's annual audit and management letter.

► The mayor read a letter from the city's bond counsel stating that the order to rescind $3.2 million in unissued bond debt two weeks was in order but suggesting the next time, they review it.

Barrett, who had opposed the order, said the information from the city's bond issuer, UniBank, was wrong and that the age of the bonds didn't matter and the funds would not be limited by time or rate.

 "I just don't think I should have $3.2 million of open credit," said the mayor. "There's accountability ... If I need $500,000 for streets tomorrow, I will come to the council and ask for $500,000."

► The council renewed the secondhand licenses for Hudson's at 1112 Mass MoCA Way and MaryAnntiques at 615 Ashland St., and a license for Michael Girard of West Road, Clarksburg, to drive a taxi for Lori Smith, pending a signature from public safety.

► Also, Robert Cardimino was removed from the City Council chambers by police after refusing to put down a sign criticizing the council president and two members.

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