Historic Valley Campground Sets Open House
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Historic Valley Campground at Windsor Lake is hosting an open house on Saturday from 10 to 3 to meet the new managers and check out the improvements made to the city's camping area.
Area residents are invited to meet Susan and Steven Landry, who are managing the family campground this season, and their family. Free refreshments and hot dogs will be available.
The Landrys have been working on improvements to the 100-acre campground. They also are planning themed weekend activities throughout this year's camping season
The city recently refurbished the bathrooms, with the help of students from McCann Technical School, and last week's citywide cleanup brought volunteers and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students to paint and rake.
You can also meet the new concession manager, Eric Dean. He is opening Coastal Smokin', a new barbecue food and snack bar at the public beach at Fish Pond.
The campground is open from May 1 to Oct. 15. It offers a private beach for campers and is within walking distance of the larger public beach and concession area. Fish Pond is also a favorite spot for anglers, canoeing and kayaking.
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Carr Hardware Eyeing Scarafoni Ford Lot
Carr Hardware is hoping to move into the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Carr Hardware is planning to relocate from its space on State Street to the former Scarafoni Ford building on State Road and Roberts Drive.
Carr President Bart Raser said on Friday that a lease has not yet been settled with landlord Scarafoni & Associates but believed a deal was close. "We're feeling positive about the opportunity but it isn't done yet."
The company will appear before the Planning Board on Monday to apply for a change-of-use permit for the State Road property.
Carr Hardware has operated out of the former Tucker Toy building for 14 years, after purchasing the 192 State St. building from what was then International Outlets in 1997.
The car lot has had a couple different dealerships, the latest being Carbone Ford, which moved to a new building in Bennington, Vt., last fall to be near Carbone's other dealerships.
According to documents on file in the city's Community Development Office, Carr will have a full-service hardware, paint, lawn and garden and rental facility in the 10,000-square-foot building.
No significant changes to the color, existing footprint or parking are planned but the garage doors will be replaced on the former automotive service area.
Details of how the store would be laid out inside.
Raser said the offerings will be similar to the Pittsfield store; the company also has locations in Great Barrington and Watervliet, N.Y.
"This will be a real full-line operation," he said. "The Curran Highway store has been very limited to paint and rental."
Carr has also formed a relationship with Agway to sell its products in the new store. The last Agway in the area closed in Williamstown in 2009 after 45 years in business.
"It will be a green goods business, with flowers and plants and pets and birds supplies, which Agway is known for," said Raser.
The State Street location has had a significant drop in revenue since work began on the Hadley Overpass in 2009, to the point that it incurred the ire of the Planning Board when it was painted a bright yellow to garner attention. The Route 2 location will make the store easily accessible to customers from both Williamstown and North Adams.
"It's a great location and allows to do what we're very good at doing," said Raser. "We do a lot of commercial business that comes from our Pittsfield store. We know our North County customers will be happy with this.
"We've been trying to do this for a while. We have to move or close."
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Broken Pole Blocks River Street
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — River Street was blocked off Friday morning for a short time after a cement truck backed into a utility pole at the corner of North Holden and River streets. Fire and police responded and the road was blocked for safety reasons until the broken pole could be fixed.
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North Adams Prepping For Override
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright has canceled all contract negotiations and is preparing a ballot question for a Proposition 2 1/2 override.
Alcombright said deals had been struck with some of the city's seven public unions but all would be put on hold until the budget is dealt with. The city is facing a budget gap of $1.2 million for fiscal 2012, caused in large part by falling state aid and rising costs.
An override would add about $237 a year to the tax bill on the average home, which in North Adams is assessed at $138,500.
"Unless we can really find some different way to attack this, I will probably call a special council meeting to bring in a ballot question for an override," the mayor told the Finance Committee on Thursday.
He said he planned to present a ballot question to the committee at this meeting ahead of next week's City Council meeting but was "looking into some things that could be interesting." He declined to elaborate but it became apparent as the conversation continued that what the mayor was looking into was selling off some properties.
Committee member David Bond thought putting properties up for sale, even if they didn't find buyers, would send a message that commercial opportunities were available.
However, the mayor said he didn't want to use sales to cover the shortfall since it wouldn't fix the city's finances in the long term. The land sale reserves had already been used to cover three years of budget gaps, but the city still had a deficit and now no cash to cover capital projects.
"If I sold $4 million in real estate today we would still be a $1.2 million in the hole," he said. "We have to fix today so we can work tomorrow."
Even if the properties could be sold and the funds used to pay down the tax rate, said the mayor, the override would still be needed now to balance the budget.
Alcombright and Bond went round and round about the conundrum that cutting services now to save costs would make the city less attractive to the very businesses and people they were hoping could drive growth and expand the tax base.
Resident Wayne Goodell asked the mayor if he had asked the public unions to take a cut in pay or increase their share of insurance costs.
The mayor said he had not discussed pay cuts but had raised the insurance issue. He noted that the Legislature is considering a bill that would loosen restrictions on municipalities negotiating over insurance options. The deal struck with the public unions on insurance last year might delay implementing such a measure until 2013, he said.
Alcombright said nearly a half-million dollars has been reduced from the original deficit of $1.8 million but it was getting difficult to find more places to cut either in the city or schools without affecting services or getting minimal return.
He used the example of laying off four firefighters: The city would be responsible for 28 weeks of unemployment and, since so many firefighters had seniority and five weeks vacation, the amount of overtime to cover shifts would eat away at any savings.
Even so, the mayor said he met last week with city workers to inform them of the possible consequences if the override fails.
City Council President Ronald Boucher said he did not think there was support for an override and asked what Plan B is should it go down. The mayor said once the override is placed on the ballot, he would give presentations on what would happen if it failed — Plan B.
"Numbers don't lie. I stare at these for hours; it's very disheartening," said Alcombright.
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School Project Goes Back to Drawing Board
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's going to "take a step back" from the school building project.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said a press conference regarding the project will be held Friday at noon to explain the whys and wherefores.
The school building committee and its designers have come under withering fire from parents and neighbors of Sullivan School on Kemp Avenue when it became apparent it would likely be sacrificed for the renovation of Conte Middle School.
During a three-hour meeting last Thursday, parents hurled charges that the committee and designers hadn't spent enough time on finding ways to renovate the school. They oppose sending youngsters downtown to Conte, which had operated as a high school and middle school for nearly 100 years, but never as an elementary school.
The designers and school officials, including faculty, say the hillside school is problematic because of its multiple levels and limited expansion options because of the steep grade.
In an email announcing the press conference, Alcombright said the decision was being made in consultation with Superintendent of Schools James Montepare.
"This time will allow the design team to more fully explore Sullivan School options and will allow us to meet on any new proposals," he wrote. "Upon receipt of new design options, we will re-engage the School Building Committee, School Committee and City Council through public process as well as convene additional public sessions with the result being more significant and consistent support."
The mayor said he and the superintendent would be available for questions on Friday.
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