North Adams Council Wants More Data on Parking Lot Changes
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An unconvinced City Council on Tuesday referred a proposal to restore parking meters to the Center Street parking lot to committee.
The lot has had a parking-ticket kiosk for a number of years, but it's been broken for at least four. Police Director Michael Cozzaglio had approached the Traffic Commission about restoring the meters last month, saying it was impossible to enforce parking limits in the short- and long-term areas.
"We're unable to enforce that lot and we have folks who buy for the long-term area and are parking in the short-term," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "The easiest and most efficient way is for police to drive through the lot and see who's red [on the meter]."
The updated ordinance would remove the free two-hour parking limit from the municipal lot and restore some 65 parking meters with a limit of four-hour parking at 25 cents an hour. The metered parking would be in effect between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The mayor said the city would do the work, with the idea that meters could be recycled from the St. Anthony Municipal Parking Lot that is little used during the week. Delaying a decision too long this summer could push the project out to next year, he said.
But Councilor Lisa Blackmer almost immediately motioned to refer the matter to the Public Safety Committee, which was swiftly seconded by Councilor Ronald Boucher.
Councilor Eric Buddington agreed that it should go to committee for review.
"It's been a bone of contention with many people I've heard from," he said. "I would appreciate a discussion on the fundamental problem we're trying to solve."
While the cost of the meters was less than he anticipated, "I'd like to be convinced it's time well spent for the city."
Councilor Keith Bona thought it should go to the Community Development Committee, too.
"I think downtown itself has changed a lot, from how traffic flows to who's parking downtown," he said. "I think that should be part of this discussion. Maybe this is the opportunity to take a look at what else .... should we be making bigger changes?"
The councilors batted around some ideas, such as the use of technology in the form of apps or cameras to eliminate meters, or eliminating the paid parking altogether.
Bona said the discussions were better saved for the committee rather than council.
"There are a lot of interesting questions to explore," said Councilor Kate Merrigan, who wondered if the city had ever done a parking management study. "I think there are questions that should be answered with real data."
A study by Williams College students three years ago found plentiful parking in the downtown area — nearly 3,000 public and private spots — that were severely underutilized.
Councilors asked for more information on parking and the lot, including the Williams study.
The city's newest Fire Department lieutenant, Michael P. Sherman, was sworn in by City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.
Sherman joined the department Sept. 11, 2007, as a reserve and was appointed as permanent in 2009. Also a paramedic, he passed the Civil Service Fire Promotional Exam and began his new duties on June 27.
The mayor congratulated Sherman on his hard work and commitment to passing the difficult exam, and acknowledged the department's night shift, who quietly entered Council Chambers to watch their colleague be publicly promoted.
Sometimes firefighters, police and first responders are taken for granted, said Alcombright. "It's like water, it's always there."
"I don't think that any of us know what it's like to run into a burning building or to walk up to knock on a door and not know what's behind that door," he said, thanking the city's public safety personnel for keeping citizens safe.
In other business:
• The council also approved $615,815.51 in internal transfers to close out fiscal 2016. The funds came from the Transfer Station ($422,815.51) and the reserve account ($75,000) to offset deficits in General Government ($23,104.91), Public Safety ($189,306.19), Public Services ($130,037.67), unclassified ($91,806.47), Capital Items ($37,941.02), and retirement of debt ($25,619.25). The School Department transferred $118,000 from salaries to expenses.
• Referred to the city's attorneys modified ordinances over concerns of language in one section regarding earned vacation for employees who are fired.
Tags: firefighters, parking, parking meters, promotions, swearing in,