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A presentation on infrastructure plans at Blackinton shows where culverts and stormwater systems will be upgraded to prevent flooding.

$2.4M Grant Will Address Water Issues Around Blackinton Mill

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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An illustration showing the easement that will allow for work around industrial waterway and banking.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is using a $2.4 million MassWorks grant to fix infrastructure issues that have slowed attempts to redevelop the Blackinton Mill.
 
Zachary Feury, project coordinator with the Office of Community Development, said the $2,436,000 in funds will be used to fix an industrial waterway that runs under the mill, install a box culvert on Ashton Avenue and improve stormwater drainage on Wood and Massachusetts avenues. 
 
The mill was purchased several years ago by The Beyond Place LLC, the developer of Tourists on State Road. The initial renovation of what had been the Redwood Motel has spread to both sides of the river as the hospitality group has expanded its vision of the resort.
 
"In addition to enabling a redevelopment of the mill, these infrastructure improvements will also create distinct public benefits in the Blackinton neighborhood," Feury told the City Council on Tuesday night. 
 
He explained that the waterway under the mill and the culverts on Ashton Avenue had become clogged with sediment and debris.
 
"As many of you likely know, when it rains on Massachusetts Avenue, it doesn't just pour, it often floods," he said. "This is due to the large amounts of water flowing down the mountain in excess of stormwater drainage capacity."
 
The industrial waterway connected to the mill is so clogged that the water can no drain to the west as originally designed. 
 
"This combination has resulted in years of flooding within the mill basin and impeded its redevelopment," he said. "This project will increase stormwater drainage capacity to 100-year storm levels."
 
In addition to the correction of the failed waterway and the stormwater capacity, the   third public benefit will be the reduction of blight in terms of the undeveloped property on the west side of the mill. 
 
The parcel had been the site of the Blackinton tannery that was destroyed by fire years ago. The Beyond Place had taken out an easement on the property, which is owned by the city, with the purpose of revitalizing it as part of the resort.  
 
"Due to its contamination, the parcel has remained undeveloped and is now largely blighted open space," Feury said. "The MassWorks grant will allow for the preparation of the parcel development, as the front entrance to the Blackinton Mill."
 
The grant was applied for the by the city in conjunction with Tourists and the city's state representatives. 
 
The matter before the City Council was acceptance of an easement agreement with the owners of 1476 Massachusetts Ave. that would allow the city access to the area around the mill where the work is to be done. 
 
Allan and Cynthia McLain of Clarksburg will allow access to the project for the price of $1 for a period of three years. The council approved the easement with Councilor Jason LaForest complimenting the administration for its efforts in gaining the grant, which had been rejected at first.
 
"The mayor himself will probably be surprised but ... I need to applaud the mayor, and his team for the extraordinary amount of work that went into securing this MassWorks grant," he said. "The mayor worked very hard with the lieutenant governor to ensure that this money was made available to the city, so that this extensive redevelopment of the Blackinton Mill and surrounding property could go through."
 
He also thanked state Rep. John Barrett III and state Sen. Adam Hinds for their efforts on the city's behalf. 
 
The council also approved an easement onto land owned by Cumberland Farms on Ashland Street. 
 
The company is relocating the water main at 227 and 245 Ashland (the former City Yard), where it is building a new convenience store and gas station. Once moved, the city will take over responsibility for maintaining the line as part of the public water system. The easement is necessary to access the main. 
 
The council also continued a number of matters that have been lingering for months, passed the changes in transfer station charges to a second reading and approved transfers between accounts totaling $466,964.09 to close out fiscal 2020. 

Tags: Blackinton Mill,   MassWorks grant,   

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North Adams Preparing to Launch New Website

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is finally getting a new website designed to be far more user-friendly than the current one. It's set to be launched on Aug. 24.
 
The city's website is more than a decade old — ancient in internet terms — and hasn't had much in the way of upgrades since. 
 
"The current city website has a lot of shortcomings. First and foremost is security," said Mark Pierson, the city's chief information officer. "The site is very vulnerable, it is hard to navigate, it is not modern at all. You cannot resize this for a tablet, a phone, it's very clumsy."
 
He told the City Council on Tuesday that editing the site is extremely difficult, the content management system is limited, it has a lot bugs and is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, something the city is under order from the Department of Justice to fix. 
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