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Alcombright Seeks Funds for Campground, Lake

Tammy Daniels

Mayor Alcombright says the aged concession and public bathrooms at Fish Pond are an embarrasment.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday will be asked to authorize up to $150,000 in borrowing to update Windsor Lake (Fish Pond) and its campground.

Mayor Richard Alcombright told the Finance Committee on Thursday afternoon that the money would be used to revamp the two bathroom buildings at Historic Vally Campground and build a new concession stand and bathroom facility closer to the beach.

"The idea is how can we renew the excitement and enthusiasm about the lake," said the mayor. "It's a beautiful, beautiful place."

Alcombright said the two bathroom buildings built in 1969 are in a state of disrepair; the concession stand and public bathrooms at the lake "are in deplorable condition, they are embarrassing quite honestly."

The concession and facilities were built in 1959. They are now located far away from the public beach area as is the playground equipment.

"It's inconvenient, it's old, it's nonfunctional," said the mayor. "Considering the idea is to enhance the lake, to remarket the lake [we would] build a new concession/restroom building on the green space as you walk toward the beach."

The estimated cost for refurbishing and making the campground bathrooms handicapped accessible would be $60,000; building a new one-story concession modeled after the one at Noel Field about $70,000 to $80,000. The playground would be moved and needs new equipment.

A possible beach volleyball court could be put in but Windsor Lake Recreation Commission Chairman George Forgea said that would not be included in the borrowing. "There may be other ways to do that."

A lot of the exterior work would be done by McCann Technical School students and most of the rest done by city workers. The cost would be primarily materials.

Revenues from the lake and campground go into the general fund. Forgea said the campground "is nowhere near the capacity of the revenue it could generate." But the park is in dire need of upgrades beyond just the bathrooms: its roads and buildings need serious upgrading as do the sewer and electrical.

"The wiring goes back to 1969," said Forgea. "We had several campers who came up and found we only had 20-amp service and turned around and left."

The campground isn't prepared for the larger campers and their multiple appliances. Forgea said the idea isn't to turn the campground into a "Disneyland" but to make it attractive to the types of people who are coming to spend money at places like the local museums and theaters. They're not coming in tents, he said.

Of the park's 100 campsites, 48 were occupied by seasonholders but the remaining 52 had only a 30 percent occupancy rate.

Some changes are already under way. After operating on a cash only basis for decades, campers will now be able to use charge cards, make reservations online and, more importantly, be required to make deposits. A new management team will take over in the spring as well.

Finance Committee members were in favor of the investment because of the likely future return.

"Any money spent on the lake is money well spent," said committee Chairman Michael Bloom.

In other business, the committee voted to recommend borrowing for $650,000 to complete the the $6.3 million airport project. The matter was referred to the committee at the last council meeting.

"It's our obligation as a city to finish this airport," said the mayor. "This is an amount of money we can work with to get this done."

The city would use $150,000 to complete its 2.5 percent match of the runway funding (another 2.5 percent is being paid by the state and the rest by the federal government). The balance of the borrowing would used to pay any overruns regarding the Runway Safety Areas.

The RSA work is currently in litigation over a dispute with a subcontractor regarding the design and amount of work needed to complete it.

"The bonding request that the mayor sent [the council] is larger than the estimated local share of the project," said Administrative Officer Jay Green. "That is to have a buffer zone to make sure we're covered."

Not all money may be used, he said, because there is a federal wetlands grant for the project that may provide more funding. The city's attorney is in talks with the subcontractor to reach a settlement.

 

NA Letter Winds or Lake

Tags: campground, lake, airport      

North Adams Panel Takes Up Vendor Rules

Tammy Daniels

David Lewis said limiting the number of vendor licenses was valid. 'We don't want to put anyone out of business.'

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee's looking to update the city's peddling ordinance but will first have to answer a few questions. 

The matter was passed to the City Council subcommittee earlier this summer after a hot dog cart sparked complaints from some local businesses and after a boost in vendor applications for the Solid Sound Festival. The panel members Chairwoman Gailanne Cariddi, Lisa Blackmer and Keith Bona met Monday in the City Council chambers with Health Inspector Manuel Serrano.

Mayor Richard Alcombright, while supporting the vendors efforts and enthusiasm, was concerned that the definitions of hawkers and peddlers as outlined in the city's current ordinance were not clear and forwarded to the committee a bylaw adopted by Adams earlier this year.

"I think one of the main concerns or issues is public safety," said Serrano. "Street vendors whether they're selling food or products, it has to be safe to do so."

Serrano said any food vendors have to be licensed by the Board of Health and have SafeSERV certification; others need a license, including anyone who has more than three tag sales a year at the same address. Those with state licenses still need to register with the police.

"For instance, the [Fall Foliage Festival] Parade, all hawkers, peddlers have to register," he said. "We'll issue them badges so the public knows they're registered with us."

Blackmer said there was a concern of vendors operating outside established venues. "You don't want to hurt existing business but you don't want to discourage entrepreneurship," she said, adding that the more happening in the downtown the better. "But you have to make sure there's enough of the pie."

Vendors should perhaps get permission from other competing businesses, said Bona, before setting up in the downtown.

Serrano said it was up to the city to decide whether it wanted to limit the number of vendor licenses or where such vendors could operate.

 

Committee members listen as Health Inspector Manuel Serrano explains how the city licenses different vendors.

The exception, all agreed, was in the case of special events during which food and other vendors would be encouraged to set up. Serrano questioned whether that would include SteepleCat games or youth activities, and how broadly such a policy would be written.

David Lewis, who operates the hot dog cart Guys and Dogs on Saturdays with Vincent Melito, objected to the panel members desire to safeguard businesses.

"When I was in my several businesses, I wish that someone would have regulated my competition," he said, adding that he and Melito had gone out of their way not to intrude on other eateries. "We did it for foot traffic. ... We thought it would be a nice segue from Mass MoCA to the Hub."

Jennifer Barbeau, who's organizing Saturday's annual Fall Foliage Arts & Crafts Fair, also stressed that not having a storefront doesn't mean the operator isn't contributing to the city. Barbeau, who operates two businesses out of her home, also wanted the panel to keep in mind that crafters aren't necessarily in the same league as reguler vendors.

Bona agreed, saying that many are more hobbyists than businesspeople.

Cariddi said the panel would take into consideration the comments from those in attendance, which also included Gail and Phil Sellers, Councilors Ronald Boucher and Marie Harpin, Rhea Lewis and tourism director Rod Bunt.

The panel members will consider definitions for vendors and special events, and consider a range of vendor limits. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 5:30 in the council chambers.

 

Tags: vendors, ordinances, licenses      

Planners: Auto Garage Not in Violation

Staff Reports

Planners said they can't find anything wrong with Tunnel City Auto.

The Planning Board on Monday accepted with no discussion a report by the Compliance Committee that found no issues with Tunnel City Auto.

Abuttor Susan Lefaver of 690 State Road and other neighbors have complained consistently about the automotive repair shop for some years, saying owner Mark J. Laveriere has failed to attain or maintain a number of conditions placed on the property.

Lefaver finally brought her complaints to the City Council last month, armed with photos, and had the matter referred back to the Planning Board.

Last month, Building Inspector William Meranti said he had been called to the property a number of times but other than mild violations - such as a car left for pickup past working hours - nothing was out of order. Some of the complaints of the shop being open past business hours seemed to center on the owner doing work on his own car, which was allowable, he said.

The Compliance Committee did a site check on Sept. 10 and found the garage substantially in compliance with the 30 conditions set by the board in 2002. The committee also found no issues with visibility on exiting Chantilly Avenue, another issue the neighbors have raised.

In other business during the brief meeting, the board:

Continued a hearing on the application of Thomas Snow, perating as Snoford LLC, to reopon the former Crystal Hard Hat at 176 Union St. as a tavern until Snow appears before the Licensing Committee.

Signed off on the aesthetics of a new privacy fence with black slats to replace a decripit stockade fence at Price Chopper on State Road; new signage for Mount Williams Greenhouse and the reopening of The Alley at 23 Eagle St. under David Atwell on condition that a signage plan be submitted.

 

Tags: auto, restaurants, signage      
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Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.

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City Council

Returned Papers
As of 8/9 at 5 p.m.
 Lisa M. Blackmer* Yes
 Michael Bloom Yes
 Keith Bona* Yes
 David Bond* Yes
 Marie Harpin* Yes
 Alan Marden* Yes
 John Barrett Yes
 Eric R. Buddington Yes
 Nancy P. Bullett Yes
 Robert Cardimino Yes
 Catherine Chaput Yes
 Roland G. Gardner  
 Diane M. Gallese-Parsons  Yes
Shane Gaudreau  
 James B. Gyurasz  Yes
 Michael Hernandez  Yes
 Jennifer Breen Kirsch  Yes
Brian L. Flagg  
 Kellie A. Morrison  Yes
 Greg Roach  Yes
 Gail Kolis Sellers  Yes
18 candidates returned papers
 
 Mayor  
 Richard J. Alcombright*  Yes
 Ronald A. Boucher  Yes
 Robert Martelle  Yes
 Preliminary election will eliminate one
 
 School Committee  
 Mary Lou Accetta* Yes
 Lawrence K. Taft* Yes
 Leonard Giroux Jr.  Yes
 Tara J. Jacobs  Yes
 David Lamarre Yes
   
McCann School Committee  
 George M. Canales Yes

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