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A group of six Drury High students painted the old callboxes that will be set out along Route 2 by the Center Street Parking Lot.

Callboxes Decorated by Drury Students to Be Installed Downtown

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Public Arts Commission hears about the callbox project.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Public Arts Commission has given the go-ahead for a student-art project along Route 2, pending an installed example. 
Emily Schiavone, outreach coordinator for the North Adams Public Schools, presented the plans to the commission on Thursday. 
Ten callboxes that were recently decommissioned by the Fire Department were given to Drury High School for an art project. Schiavone said the boxes were painted by six students to displayed downtown. 
"The thought was to display them along the Route 2 corridor, along the backside of downtown, and loop along to Main Street," she said. 
The brightly painted boxes will be attached at eye level on light poles between Holden and Eagle streets, and then on Eagle, to encourage pedestrian traffic. 
"So what we've designed is metal strapping that will loop around the pole," she said. "They have to be strapped securely."
Schiavone confirmed to questions from the commission that city officials and the superintendent were aware of and approving of the project. 
"As soon as we get approval our hope is to get them installed by the end of July," she said. "Volunteers will be installing them."
The project goes somewhat in hand with the NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative being spearheaded by Schiavone's husband, City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, who is also volunteering with the installation.
Commissioner William Blackmer thought it a good use of the old boxes. "They're going to be bright and colorful."
"I think it's a way to get people down an avenue they might not necessary travel," Schiavone said.
The installation will have an expiration date. The boxes have been painted with an antigraffiti gel but the expectation is that they will last about two years with regular wear and tear.
"So we're thinking at the two-year mark, we will uninstall them and have another group repaint them," Schiavone said. 
Chairwoman Julia Dixon, however, was concerned about the installation and how it was being done. 
"They're 15 pounds each and you're not having them installed by anyone from the city," she said. "I would just like a little more assurance that the volunteers know how to install these."
The commission wanted to be confident that the boxes wouldn't slide down the poles and scratch them or fall.
Schiavone explained that they would be secured with two metal straps and metal screws to ensure they stayed in place. It was agreed that one would be installed for review; the commission also wanted to hold off until a contract could be made ready. 
Dixon also suggested that signage for the project be considered to let people know that the works had been done by students. Schiavone thought that could be done. 
In other business, the commission spent some time going over a draft contract. The purpose of the commission has been to oversee the installation of artworks on public lands and ensure documentation spells out the rights and responsibilities of both the city and the artists. 
Dixon said the draft contract provided by the city's new solicitor, KP Law (formerly Kopelman & Paige) was more geared to commissioning agencies. 
"I don't want the city to have contracts with artists," she said. "The purpose of our contract is to protect [city] property."
Commissioners Blackmer and Cynthian Quinones reviewed parts of the contract with Dixon, agreeing where words needed to be switched to better reflect the city's needs and touching on image rights, maintenance, and ultimate responsibilities. The contract will be returned to KP Law for further review. 
The commission also hopes to get two new members to replace Nancy Ziter and Erica Manville. Dixon said the mayor is expected to put forward two names at the July 10 City Council meeting. She did not know who would be named but said the mayor had asked her for some recommendations for the at-large seat. 
It also determined it would not make any rulings regarding artworks on private spaces that impinge visually on public ways. The panel had reviewed a solar light project that will be placed on a privately owned building along the brick alleyway between Center Street parking lot and Eagle Street. 

Tags: Drury High,   public art,   school project,   

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North Adams Council Puts Brakes on Sale of Sullivan School

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Councilor Rebbecca Cohen takes the gavel when both the president and vice president had to recuse themselves from the Sullivan sale discussion. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council hit the brakes on the sale of Sullivan School on Tuesday night, saying the proposal to transform the vacant elementary school into an advanced manufacturing training center needed further discussion. Two other bids were accepted with little debate.
A locally organized group of businesses and entrepreneurs operating as Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, bid $1 for the 50-year-old building but their proposal says they will be investing $11 million into the building and another $3 million in equipment. The Kemp Avenue property is assessed at $2.1 million.
"There's an expression of raising a lot of money but I don't see anyone writing a lot of checks," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, recommending the proposal go to committee for review, adding, "there's a lot more information needs to be known before we move forward with this."
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