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North Adams Parks Commissioners Open to New Duties, Members

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Parks & Recreation Commission is hoping for more support as its asked to take on a bigger role in overseeing the city's recreational areas. 
Chairman Richard Wood on Monday said he has spoken with Mayor Thomas Bernard about issues of concern to the commission, including the proposal to give it oversight of the Armory, Windsor Lake and the skating rink. The Armory and skating rink are operated out of the mayor's office and the lake and campground through Windsor Lake Recreation Commission.
"I had a little meeting with the mayor in August, just a little get together, to see how things are going," Wood told the commission. "I gave him some of our points of view about some things and he agreed, so I don't know if he's going to talk to somebody. 
"Let's not make promises that we can't keep or to make it look like it's our fault."
The commission's been looking for more members to fill out the seven-person board, particularly people with some connection to the newer venues. There have been difficulties, however, in finding people who can commit. The last few members appointed rarely or never showed up. 
Wood said he was told that there was a new person being added and members agreed that the board could expand further in light of any added responsibilities. 
"I don't mind if it's put on us but people got to remember ... we have no control over money or promises," he said. 
Commissioner David Willette agreed, but added, "if you're going to put it on us, you got to listen to us, too."
With that in mind, the commission is asking for a City Council liaison to keep communications open with that elected body. It would be another "tool in the tool belt," said Willette.   
One of the "promises" has been listed under "Old Business" on the agenda for months: the relocation of the walking track at River Grove Park. 
The dog park was constructed over one section of the path and residents have asked for it to moved so they don't have to walk thorugh the wet grass in that corner. Nothing has been done to date. There has also been a request for more benches and Wood said he was looking into the cost of those. 
The commission also reviewed some changes to the Brayton Park renovation with the major change the removal of a walking path to lower costs when total bids came in high. Willette advocated for a sliding area, as he had in the past, but the city has been reticent to restore Brayton Hill for that activity. 
The park will have the practice board he suggested. He forwarded to the commissioners of how the hard surface could be lined to match the board. "I'm really excited to see this wall," he said.
In other business:
The LaFesta Baseball Exchange has been confirmed for games on July 25 and 26 at Joe Wolfe Field next year. The year 2020 will be the youth baseball program's 30th year. Commissioner George Canales, who heads the exchange, said a ceremony is being planned in North Adams and that the Boston team is hoping to involve Fenway Park in some way.
• Canales also asked what the plans were for Kemp Park. The initial idea had been to remove the fences and make it a grass field as most youth programs have moved to Noel Field and Alcombright sports complexes. Canales said programs were practicing at Kemp over the summer and people were using it as a dog park. 
"I have never seen so much dog mess up there," he said, adding that the players were sliding and stepping in it. There also had been a problem with adults drinking at the field during practice, he said, and thought there should signs prohibiting that activity.
• The commission also said there have been talks with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for its baseball team to play at Joe Wolfe because of the conditions at its sports complex off West Shaft Road. Canales said the Drury High and McCann Technical teams would have priority for home games, followed by the North Adams SteepleCats, before MCLA would access.  

Tags: parks & rec,   parks commission,   

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North Adams Eyeing Street Closures to Aid Local Businesses

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

One possible option for Eagle Street would close it to motor vehicle traffic.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is looking for ways to expand opportunities for outdoor dining, starting on Monday with Center Street. 
A section of Center Street near Marshall Street will be shut down on Monday along with part of a private parking lot between the Mulcare Building and Juvenile Court. Traffic will be able to enter the St. Anthony Municipal Parking Lot from Center and exit the parking lot off Holden.
Officials are also working the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses in submitting a grant application to the state Department of Transportation's Shared Streets and Spaces. MassDOT has set aside some $5 million in grant funding designed to aid communities in supporting outdoor and pedestrian activities during the pandemic. There are also MassWorks grants available, according to Stantec's Liza Cohen.
The grant application was the subject of a meeting on Thursday seeking input from downtown restaurateurs on several possible dining areas on Eagle, Holden and Center streets. 
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