NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The return of spring inevitably brings with it complaints about potholes and parking. And while the potholes may be aggravating, a "winter parking ban" in April continues to puzzle and frustrate motorists.
Even though the streets are clear, anyone parking on the roadway overnight will get a ticket.
At the request of Mayor Thomas Bernard, the City Council voted Tuesday to amend the city's parking ordinance to shorten the winter ban by two weeks. It also voted on the mayor's recommendation to end this year's parking ban on Thursday.
Next year's parking ban, and for years afterward, will end on April 15 — an easy to remember date since it's also Tax Day and is often Patriots Day.
"This is something I did last year with the support of the council to lift the parking ban early in recognition that we have had a fairly good stretch of nice weather, that the extended forecast looks for the next 10 days or so to be promising, which takes us in to late April, " the mayor told the council, adding that he could enforce a temporary ban should the weather turn bad.
The ban runs from Nov. 1 to April 30 and prohibits parking on the street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. It was instituted to keep cars off the road so snowplows can do their job.
But it can cause problems in a downtown area built pre-automobile and designed to house workers within walking distance of their employment. The number of cars on the road nowadays can make it difficult to find parking in some areas.
"I know there are people who have struggled because they don't have their own parking or driveways and have had to find parking when this ban is in effect," said Councilor Marie T. Harpin. "I think it's a very good idea."
This latest ordinance was adopted in 1988. It may feel restrictive, but it's better than the city's 1938 ordinance that banned all overnight parking everywhere in the city and severely restricted daytime parking to certain times and streets.
"In 2018 and 2019 this administration proposed that the City Council authorize the mayor to supersede the above provisions and to lift the winter parking ban prior to the April 30 date. I propose setting the annual end date of the all night parking ban as of April 15," wrote the mayor in a communique to the council.
It's rare to get a storm in April. There was the storm that hit the Northeast on April 4, 1975, and dumped more than a foot of snow and a few minor "April Fool's" storms, one of which fooled everyone in 2011 by not appearing. Last year, the parking ended on April 16 — and a few inches of snow fell three days later.
Still, the parking bans — at least in recent years — have tended to be terminated early by the mayor's office. In 2012 it was lifted on March 20 and in 2016 on March 22, and in 2015 on April 8. The average snowfall for the Berkshires is about 2 inches total for April.
Councilor Rebbecca Cohen asked what prompted the mayor to consider shortening the ban by two weeks. Bernard said it's because the last two years he's asked to lift it in the middle of April.
"Since that seems to be the place where it is making the most sense," he said. "Even if we get snow in April, it tends to be fast-moving and doesn't stay around for a particularly long time. ... I think it provides more reliability for residents to know there is a fixed date other than an annual float."
Councilor Jason LaForest asked if there had been consideration of eliminating the seasonal parking ban altogether and simply declaring weather emergencies as needed.
The mayor said there had been some but not in depth and his preference at the moment was to leave the seasonal ban in place.
"I think we have enough weather conditions that having something consistent is appropriate," he said. "There are other communities that have a blue-light system or just a regular snow declaration. We could explore that."
The ordinance also states the mayor can institute a parking ban on declaration of "a state of emergency." Bernard asked the council to amend that to "weather emergency" because of the changed way the state and federal government use "state of emergency."
"Such a declaration has significant legal and reporting requirements, including notification to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), as opposed to a snow or weather emergency, the conditions for which are established at the local level," Benard wrote.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Earlier this spring, I announced I was running for City Council while still a senior in college. Within just a few days of taking out my papers, I had surpassed the number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot. I want to thank everyone who lent me their signature, their support, or even just an encouraging word along the way.
Late last week, however, I wrote to the City Clerk and asked her to withdraw my name from the election. I accepted an offer to work for the New Hampshire State Senate that will, obviously, take me out of the city for the foreseeable future. This was an offer that I, a 22-year-old recent college graduate from the college known as New Hampshire's home for politics, could not turn down at this point in my young career. I am very thankful to everyone who supported my campaign along the way. I especially want to thank state Rep. John Barrett III, City Council President Keith Bona, and City Councilor Marie T. Harpin, who all gave me valuable insights and guided me along the way.
I hope to return to the city one day and give back to the great community that shaped me into who I am today and who inspired me to launch my campaign. I would not have withdrawn from the campaign if I did not think that the city would be in good hands while I am away. No matter where I live, I will always consider North Adams home.
But now, starting this year, the Santa Fund will focus on distributing warm winter coats at the end of October, before the cold weather really sets in. This is a partnership with Northern Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Community Action Council and the Rotary Club of North Adams. click for more
Lifting that shame is one of the major goals of the Voices for Recovery event, which starts at noon in Colegrove Park with informational tables and family activities, continues at 1 p.m. with a ceremony of remembrance for those lost to recovery followed by a walk up Main Street to City Hall for a... click for more
And while the commissioners were supportive of the efforts being made by Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts in developing the empty lot into a park to entice its visitors to the downtown, they acknowledged they had no control over the 40-foot by 40-foot installation that's going to be facing... click for more
But when the topics are narrowed down and announced, Executive Director Amber Besaw warned, people in the room on Friday shouldn't be surprised if they saw ideas they hadn't heard mentioned in the room at The Green. That's because, for the first time, the Coalition held a call-in session on Aug. 23... click for more
The 50-year-old municipal camping site has had some upgrades in recent years but the next phase could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Administrative Officer Michael Canales informed the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission on Monday.
click for more