Councilor Eric Buddington gives a rundown on the state of the internet in North Adams and some ideas for making it better.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday accepted an unknown amount of money left by late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi for the North Adams Public Library.
Cariddi, who died at age 63 in June, named the library as a beneficiary under an insurance policy and apparently left cash benefits in her will.
I want to acknowledge with great thanks Gail's commitment to our library and our community," Mayor Richard Alcombright read from his communique to the council. "This gift further ensures Gail's legacy of generosity and goodwill."
The library trustees voted to accept the funds on Oct. 11; with the council's approval, the funds would be established in a separate account for use for library programs, maintenance and operations. But no one knows how much that bequest totals.
"We don't know what it is and we can't know until we have accepted the gift," the mayor explained. "I don't know if it's by order of the will, or order of the policy, but in all respects the solicitor has poured through to develop the order as presented."
Cariddi served on the City Council for two decades before being elected representative for the 1st Berkshire District in 2010. The library has already received other legacies, including $7,465.47 in July from the representative's credit union account to put toward astronomy programs and memorial donations.
"Gail left two retirement accounts to the library and one was for a certain amount and we've received a check already," Library Director Mindy Hackner said. "This second one, which comes from the state retirement [fund], they won't release any information on it until you decide to accept the gift. Apparently there's some legal reason they won't do that."
Responding to a query by Counselor Wayne Wilkinson, Hackner said there were no restrictions on the funds.
The library was also apprised that Cariddi had left the institution something from her final estate, but again, that bequest is not yet known.
"None of these gifts will be expended quickly," Hackner said in response to a question from Councilor Keith Bona. "It's going to take some time to decide what to do with them. There's $8,700 and some odd dollars for astronomy."
The council also was provided some information on the operations of the Water Treatment Plant as requested by Councilor Eric Buddington. The city has twice been cited for compliance violations in the last few months. The first was for lab delays in reporting three failed tests to the state; the three areas were retested immediately and no evidence of coliform bacteria found. The second was for failure to use soda ash treatments to adjust the water's pH and prevent corrision in the pipes.
The mayor reported that the filtration plant is monitored daily through the use of technology, including for pH, turbidity, particulates and other factors. Reports are sent monthly to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Twenty random sites are tested coliform around the city, both private and public, and the water is checked regularly and at entry points for contaminants and byproducts.
The two water technicians are certified, one at Level 3 and the other at Level 2, he said, and the plant's management structure has been approved by DEP.
"We're in a good place, our water is good," the mayor said. "Everything we do that I've just read is as required by the DEP. So we're meeting all those standards."
Commissioner of Public Services Timothy Lescarbeau has been out for five weeks after having some type of medical incident at the new Department of Public Works building. He is expected to return to work part time this week.
In other business, Buddington gave a brief rundown of possibilities for municipal internet.
Most users here have cable or DSL connections. Cable has about an download speed of 25 megabits per second, and upload of 3 Mbps; by comparison, fiber optic offers 40K Mbps/40K Mpbs.
"We have a publicly owned backbone in Western Massachusetts, Mass Broadband fiber, it's owned and managed by the Mass Technology Collaborative," he said. "When hear about fiber to the home, that's the speed that's often available."
Communications between computers on the current DSL and cable systems are difficult because providers can change addresses at times of their choosing and you can't run a website from your home. There's also no guarantee of neutral access or to court arbitration.
"The terms of service for these are very limited its a matter of you having internet access and using it however you want," Buddington said. "I would very much like that to be the case."
A new version of the internet would allow the city to buy a million addresses (like having a phone number) — more than enough to cover every household — for $1,000 a year. He would also like to get access to the fiber network, which is already connected to public buildings. Buddington also held out the hope that as the city continues to work on its water and sewer, conduits could be laid underground to get away from the expensive problems in running lines on poles owned by utilities.
"This is obviously a long project and I'm not going to propose anything concrete right now," Buddington said. "But I wanted to get this down for future discussions."
• The council also set a tax classification hearing for Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Councilor Lisa Blackmer offered kudows to the city's financial team for making it easier each year to get state approval for tax classification. In the past, the council has been holding classification hearings in December and several times special meetings had been held to them done prior to the new year.
"I really appreciate the work that's been done to get this, and dealing with the state in getting you're numbers done I can attest is not an easy task," said Blackmer, who is tax collector and treasurer for the town of Buckland.
The council set the municipal election and special election for state representative for Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all five wards at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center.
• And finally, Councilor Ronald Boucher submitted a resignation letter effective Oct. 23 because he is moving to Clarksburg. The former mayoral candidate and seven-term councilor is the second member of the council to resign because of relocation; Nancy Bullett in June tendered her resignation to move south.
Bullett was replaced by the council with Wayne Wilkinson, but President Benjamin Lamb said he leave the post open since the election is only a couple weeks away. Boucher has not attended the past few meetings.
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North Adams Finance Advises More Information on Sullivan Proposal
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Finance Committee members Wayne Wilkinson and Chairwoman Marie T. Harpin want more information on the funding and time line.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Finance Committee is sending a proposal to create a manufacturing training center back to the City Council with a recommendation to get more information from the mayor.
Councilors expressed concern over the purchase offer of $1 as well as the proposed $14 million in financing for the project and zoning, since the proposal referred to future maker spaces and business incubators in the residential neighborhood.
"I think the concept of what you guys are trying to do is absolutely wonderful. Whether we want to give you a building for dollar, I have a hard time swallowing," said committee member Wayne Wilkinson.
The council put the sale of Sullivan School to the newly organized Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, on pause last week even as it approved the sale of two other city properties.
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The Historical Society recently moved its museum from Western Gateway Heritage State Park to the first-floor of the Holiday Inn. Because this space is smaller, the entire collection could not be moved.
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