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Carr Hardware added yellow to its color scheme in an effort to drum up business.

North Adams Planners Reject Carr Hardware's Yellow

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The almost fireplug yellow has drawn praise and condemnation.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Carr Hardware's bright yellow trim may evoke "safety" but it's too shocking for the Planning Board, which ordered the old red color restored.

Two months ago, the local hardware chain painted the front trim around the windows and side trim around the entrance in a blazing yellow owner Bart Raser described as "Carr Hardware yellow." Raser, who attended Monday's meeting, said the paint job was designed to get attention.

Planners, however, had rejected a letter request in June from Raser to use the color, weeks after the paint job was done.

The North Adams store has seen a significant drop in traffic since work began on the decking of the Hadley Overpass, just a few hundred feet away. The bridge work has caused backups and traffic jams; many motorists are avoiding the bridge — and State Street — altogether by detouring over Church Street. Contractors working in Williamstown are going to competitors rather than take the time and effort to go back across the bridge.

Raser explained his  business predicament.
"Sales have been dreadful for the past two months," said Raser. "Business is awful; it's a very challenging time."

Planners were sympathetic to the business, but not to the color. While Raser said the store had gotten positive comments about the yellow, Chairman Michael Leary said his experience has been the opposite. "People are asking me 'how could you possibly allow them to use that color on that building?'"

Leary also questioned how the trim would increase business if the problem was the bridge. "We do get a lot of added visibility because they're stuck in traffic," said Raser. "It's certainly drawing attention to our business ... they see us so they know we're there."

Planner Joseph Gniadek said his problem was that the store had been approved for a particular paint scheme, including a deep red trim, but had repainted the trim without coming before the board. "I just feel that you're taking this board and throwing it aside. ... my vote is to have you adhere to the special permit you have."

Leary said the board was willing to work with Carr Hardware on other types of signage — window signs, sandwich boards — that would help promote its products but it drew the line at the unpermitted yellow.

"We're not here to be controversial," said Raser. "We're here for your help."

In other business, the board:

►Postponed a request by The Hub for an outdoor seating area on the Main Street sidewalk until next month's meeting. The restaurant owners provided a diagram and description but were not in attendance at the meeting for questions. "I am at a loss to go forward without the applicant here," said Leary. An attempt to reach the owners during the meeting was unsuccessful.

►Approved a sign for J5, a new clothing store opening at 24 Eagle St. by Michael and Tracy Jackson, and a replacement sign for Little's Pharmacy at 109 Eagle St.

►Postponed again a request by Frederick Spooner, owner of the Pitcher's Mound, to construct a fence between his property and Xtramart. The board has been concerned about property lines, the size of the parking lot and safety in vehicles entering and exiting both properties. Spooner was asked to meet with the building inspector to discuss square footage and to determine whether the issue would have to go before the Zoning Board. Planner Paul Senecal, who is an abuttor, removed himself from the board during the brief discussion.

All the votes were unanimous; Planner Paul Hopkins was absent.
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'My Favorite Year': Vintage Laughs

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic
I wish that I were reviewing one of the several movies about this pox upon our house that are certain to be made when the horror is deep into our rearview mirror. But until that glorious return to normality has us resuming all the simple joys of life we take for granted, like going to the movies, I'll be retro-reviewing and thereby sharing with you the films that I've come to treasure over the years, most of which can probably be retrieved from one of the movie streaming services. It is my fondest hope that I've barely put a dent into this trove when they let the likes of me back into the Bijou.
Oh, that we had a swashbuckling hero like Peter O'Toole's Alan Swann in director Richard Benjamin's "My Favorite Year," about the early, comically innocent days of television, to swoop down just in the nick of time and save our republic.
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