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Adams Forgoes Regular Winter Parking Ban

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The selectmen agreed to not set a winter overnight parking ban this year and will only ban parking during snow emergencies.
Town Administrator Jay Green asked the Selectmen on Wednesday to consider test-driving a new manner of winter parking control that would only go into effect when a snowstorm is anticipated.  
"We talked with people on Park Street about the ban, and we wanted to see if there was a better way to do it," Green said. "... I feel like the timing is right with the snow upon us."
Typically the town sets an overnight parking ban on all public streets and parking lots from November to April to facilitate easier winter cleanup
Green said this parking ban would only go into effect after the town snow emergency declaration
Peter West and Cory Bishop, of Bishop West Realty, attended the meeting to speak in favor of the new parking measure. 
West said as property owners they understand that parking is an issue throughout town. With the majority of homes built around the turn of the century, many have limited parking if they have parking at all. 
"I think if we want to continue improving our housing stock, and the quality of tenant that is moving to town we need to address this," West said. "Because it is very difficult to create parking when it just doesn't exist."
He said Bishop West owns large properties with multiple units that are hard to rent, especially to young dual-income families, because there is simply not enough parking. 
West said people are often forced to make their own curb cuts and even park on their own front lawns, which was an "eyesore." Also, West said some folks end up parking their vehicles on private property.    
"The town has this ban so they can plow," West said. "But it creates problems for me as a property owner because I can't plow my parking lot either because there are people parked there who do not belong there."
West said parking is not just a winter concern and pointed to Friend Street near Renfrew Park where there is no parking for the apartment housing. Residents have to park on the narrow street creating a safety issue.
Selectman Richard Blanchard asked how the town would make this declaration and noted that communication with the public would be key.  
"When you go to bed there may be nothing in the forecast for snow and at 2 a.m. it could start snowing like crazy," he said. "How is someone going to know that they can't park out there?"
Green said he was confident that town officials would be able to anticipate a snow event and said internally these conversations already happen with the Department of Public Works as they prepare for possible winter cleanup.
Selectman John Duval said he was confident the weather forecast was dependable enough for the town to make a determination, but he felt there must be deadlines for this announcement to be made.
Green agreed and also outlined some of these vehicles for communication. He said the town could utilize social media, the local media, and even the Reverse911 system. 
Selectman Joseph Nowak was hesitant to support the change. He felt there were public safety concerns and noted the board only heard about the proposed change that night. He felt allowing parking through the winter could cause problems, specifically with cars parking on the side of the road that would impede plowing. 
"It may end up like bumper cars in hilly areas with black ice," he said. "This could open up a can of worms. This is something that we have to look at, but we have to be careful."
Nowak abstained from the vote for this reason.
The rest of the board felt the change was worth, at least, a trial.   
Green said the selectmen can put the normal ban into effect whenever they wanted.
"We can try it this year and record the feedback," Green said. "The positives and negatives. We may end up a year from now going back to the way we used to do it."
Communications from the Police Department and the DPW were in support of eliminating the outright ban.
In other parking news, the Selectmen set holiday parking downtown from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1.
Nowak asked that the town use something other than plastic bags to cover the meters.
"I think it would be good to have maybe something like burlap ... We have a few new businesses coming in and a lot of storefronts are going up," Nowak said. "So we have some places to shop, and I hope people to take advantage of that."
Green said the town does plan to order new covers. He said the old ones were used recently when the town allowed free parking downtown during the beginning of the pandemic to help restaurants with takeout business.

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Adams Aiming for Summer Reopening of Public Buildings

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The town is hoping to fully reopen by July, depending on public health data.
Town Administrator Jay Green told the Select Board on Wednesday that although he does not foresee completely opening until the summer, he thought it was time to start planning.
Green said currently the town is in the yellow level of the state's COVID-19 categories and that he would not be comfortable opening until the town is consistently in the green or, even better, gray. The levels run from red for high transmission and positive cases to gray at the lowest level.
"As long as we are in the red or yellow, that indicates the presence of COVID-19 at a level that could promote community spread," Green said. "As you can see there are a lot of communities opening up, but we are a little behind. Is it conservative? Yes but I think we are almost there."
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