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The Public Safety Committee is recommending seven metered parking spots on the east side of Ashland Street.

North Adams Public Safety Committee Advises Parking on Ashland

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Public Safety Committee voted to recommend metered parking on the east side of Ashland Street during a brief meeting on Tuesday. 
The request had been made to the Traffic Commission more than a year ago by Glenn Maloney on behalf of Very Good Property Development, which owns one of the buildings on that side of the street. Maloney said allowing parking in what is now a no-parking zone would allow more convenience for not only his building but other commercial businesses on the street. 
The matter was before the Traffic Commission twice before it also voted in May to recommend the City Council approve the seven metered spots between Summer and Quincy streets. 
The council had kicked it to Public Safety after several members raised concerns about traffic and a neighbor about about pedestrian safety. 
"I've reviewed the packet that Mr. Maloney sent, I've compared it to the ordinances and have reviewed this area multiple times," said committee Chairman Jason LaForest. "There are only minimal moments of congestion, primarily relative to the Cumberland Farms space. As that moves farther south on Ashland Street, presumably opening in late winter, early spring, I think that issue will be alleviated."
Cumberland Farms recently closed on the old City Yard and is expected to begin construction on that parcel later this summer. It's current location between Quincy and Chestnut streets has created some congestion with vehicles entering and exiting at certain times of the day.
Committee member Benjamin Lamb noted that the full council had debated the issue in some depth at its last May meeting. 
"Suggestions were made that they can park in parking lots [across the street], well, that's a private parking lot, that's not a viable option," he said. "We need to recognize that fact that not all parking spots are public parking."
It was important to note where there are gaps in parking for buildings and operations and to keep in mind that there are grant applications outstanding to renovate Ashland Street, he said.
"So that's also something just to keep in our the backs of our minds that this is actually not a permanent situation," Lamb said. "Nor are any of the parking spots necessarily permanent on the street based on what the future design might look like for that quarter."
Maloney said he was glad to have a decision either way. 
"What I'm hearing is actually what I was asking for is that a decision one way or the other be vague, based on common past practices in ordinance and information, which I think is important," he said. 
He also found that in reading the state's manual on traffic calming practices that parking spots along a roadway was one option. Also, that bringing customers closer to a business or service may mean fewer people crossing streets. 
"I don't see a problem putting parking there," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, who has an office in the nearby Oasis Plaza. "The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that all the parking, the metered parking, on Summer Street, the [east] part of Summer Street, is basically used up by people that are working in around downtown area."
Maloney, who is president of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, said that is a problem and will require convincing business owners it's in their best interest to leave parking open for potential customers. 
"I'd just like to point out that the form of the order in keeping with tradition how other parking ordinances are written in the city is not specifying the exact location or the number of spaces," said committee member Eric Buddington, who drafted the order. "The council would have that authority."
Lamb concurred that the order does comply and "has the vetting of the Traffic Commission, whose purpose is to address these issues directly."

Tags: ashland street,   parking meters,   public safety committee,   

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MCLA Gallery 51 to Host Artist Talk and Book Signing with Photographer

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Arts and Culture (MAC) will host an artist talk and book signing with photographer Lydia Panas from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at MCLA Gallery 51 on Main Street. 
A screening of Panas' work will follow at MASS MoCA from 9-10 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.  
Panas' recent work, "Sleeping Beauty" a series of photographs and video installations, has been exhibited across the country. According to a press release, this series of color portraits of reclining women and girls reverses roles, with the artist's and models' gazes intertwined, incorporating the viewer as participant in an often uncomfortable connection.  
After an artist talk at 5:30 p.m., Panas will sign copies of "Sleeping Beauty," which was named one of the best photography books of 2021 by PopPhoto.   
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