NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council held one of its briefest meetings in some time, leading Mayor Thomas Bernard to joke his remarks would likely be longer than the agenda.
"I'm somewhat terrified that I'm going to spend more time with what I have than the council spent on on the agenda tonight but I will go as quickly as I can," he said.
The mayor's remarks were largely to remind residents of the virtual tree-lighting ceremony being broadcast on Northern Berkshire Community Television starting at 6 p.m., that City Hall offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and as will the transfer station.
He cautioned residents about Thanksgiving gatherings, saying "experts locally statewide and nationally are really sounding warnings about what could happen after Thanksgiving and it's not just the potential for a sharp rise in cases related to the holiday, but also concerns about the capacity of our health-care system."
Bernard said the city and its public health officials have been working with the "strong collaborative network" of local officials and agencies, including the school district, COVID-19 Operations Center, Berkshire County Boards of Health Alliance and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, which made some testing capacity available to the school district.
"That network has been an asset for us, since March, and I really do want to emphasize that it's been a model for collaboration," he said, but added, "we are all keeping a close eye on Thanksgiving and asking people to follow the state and national guidance."
The council voted to postpone a presentation from the North Adams Housing Authority at the request of City Councilor Wayne Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, liaison to the Housing Authority, had asked for time for Nathan Bondar, the authority's Low Income Housing Tax Credit consultant, to provide a presentation on the financial arrangement between the city and the federal public housing agency. NAHA is seeking to undertake a multi-year project to repair and rehabilitate its 304 units, many of which are 60 or more years old.
Some of the funds will be through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance Demonstration Program and the authority is forming a limited purpose "governmental instrumentality" of HALO Homes Inc. to which to transfer its assets. It would be seeking an agreement with the city on payment in lieu of taxes.
"I spoke with Steve Nary today, he's an attorney for Donovan & O'Connor who represents the Housing Authority. And they thought they might be a little premature and bringing this to council," said Wilkinson. "They had a presentation for us all tonight but they would like to postpone so I'm going to ask for a motion to withdraw without prejudice."
In other business, the council declared property at 568 Mohawk Trail surplus, which will allow the city to request proposals for its use. The land had been taken for delinquent taxes. The property had included a three-bedroom single-family home that was demolished using funds from the state attorney general's Abandoned Housing Initiative Strategic Demolition Fund and Community Development Block Grant funding. Use of the AGO funds means the city must offer it to the private sector through the request for proposals process and allows it to make certain restrictions. The lot is conforming, meaning it is a building lot.
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The Berkshires are expected to get hit with up to 6 inches of snow as the leading edge of a 1,500-mile storm system moves in the region on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., has issued a winter weather advisory for the Berkshire and Southern Vermont beginning noon Tuesday through 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
NWS is forecasting total accumulations of 3 to 6 inches with up to 8 inches possible in some higher-elevation portions of eastern New York. Snowfall could fall as fast as an inch an hour during Tuesday afternoon.
The city of Pittsfield has already declared a snow emergency from 7 a.m. on Tuesday until 7 p.m. on Thursday. City residents are reminded of the alternate parking scheme for snow emergencies: park on the even side of the street from 7 a.m. Tuesday through 7 a.m. on Wednesday; then switch to the odd side through 7 a.m. on Thursday.
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Principal Justin Kratz told the School Committee last Thursday that instead of inviting area eighth-graders to the school for the annual showcase and look at after-school programming, the school's recruitment efforts will be virtual.
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