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The city received a state grant to make signage and marking changes to improve pedestrian safety near Colegrove Park Elementary School.

North Adams Receives $6K Safe Routes to Schools Grant

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — East Main Street will be getting new signage, including a solar-powered signal, to improve pedestrian safety near Colegrove Park Elementary School.
 
The improvements will be funded by a $6,000 Safe Routes to School grant accepted by the City Council on Tuesday.
 
The public schools have partnered with the state Department of Transportation program since 2016 and more recently was the recipient of a $622,000 project to reconfigure the entrance and sidewalks to the Northern Berkshire Family YMCA and Brayton Elementary.
 
The application for this latest grant from the federally funded program was accepted last fall. The Signs and Lines program is for low-cost infrastructure around elementary and middle schools.
 
A committee of school and city personnel made plans for the grant that have been approved by the Traffic Commission earlier this month. The city is responsible for implementing the plan and then applying for reimbursement from the grant.
 
The area affected runs from the entrance to the library up to the intersection with Miner and Pleasant streets. It will consist of reduced speed limit, new pavement markings for lines, crosswalks and bicycles, and new signage. The solar-powered, blinking radar sign will be programmable and operate between school hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
 
The grant was accepted overwhelmingly with Councilor Benjamin Lamb, whose wife Emily Schiavoni coordinated the grant, abstaining and Councilor Jason LaForest absent.
 
In other business during the brief meeting, the council:
 
Approved extending the B-2 zone on Massachusetts Avenue east to include 1272 Mass Ave. The property is owned by Centerville Sticks LLC and adjacent to other properties owned or affiliated to Centerville that are in the B-2 zone. The Planning Board approved the change earlier this month after a joint hearing with the council.
 
• Confirmed Christa Sprague to the Human Services Commission for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2024.
 
• Approved the installation of a metal-frame awning at 85 Union St., property owned by Scarafoni & Associates. Proof of liability insurance and council approval was required because the awning will overhang public property.
 
• Referred to General Government and Community Development an ordinance change that would allow the city to revoke special permits if the holders fail to comply with conditions or to pay taxes and fees. The changes are recommended by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and were submitted by Councilor Wayne Wilkinson. 

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First-time homebuyer? Follow these steps

Is homeownership a goal of yours? It does offer some benefits, in addition to meeting your basic need for shelter. The equity you build in your home can be a valuable financial asset, and you may get to deduct your interest payments on your taxes. But if you're a first-time homebuyer, what steps should you take?
 
First, make sure the time is right for you in terms of your personal and financial situations. For example, are you fairly confident that your employment is stable and that your earnings won't decline? Of course, external events can also play a role in your decision. A recent study by Morning Consult and Edward Jones found that 12 percent of respondents postponed purchasing a house during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
But if you're ready and eager for homeownership, consider the following moves:
  • Save for a down payment. The more money you put down for a home, the lower your monthly payments, although there's also a point at which overly large down payments can be financially unwise. However, if you can make a down payment of more than 20 percent of the purchase price, you can generally avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance on top of your monthly payments. Also, as a first-time homebuyer, you might qualify for down payment assistance from your local or state housing authority or a nonprofit group.
  • Check your credit score. A higher credit score gives you a better chance for a lower interest rate. You can request a credit report from annualcreditreport.com, and you might be able to get a credit score for free from your bank. If you need to improve your score, you may want to delay your home purchase.
  • Learn how much you qualify for – and how much you should spend. Once you think you're ready to begin the home-purchasing process, you may want to contact a few lenders to determine the size of the mortgage for which you qualify. Be aware, though, that just because you can get a mortgage of a certain amount, does not necessarily mean that you should. You don't want to become "house poor" – that is, you don't want to spend so much on your house payments that you are cash strapped and can't afford to save for other goals, such as college for your children or a comfortable retirement. You may want to establish a budget for how much you can readily afford to pay for your mortgage each month – and try sticking to it before you buy the house. If you have extra savings, put it toward your down payment.
  • Prepare for unexpected costs. You can plan for your mortgage, utilities, taxes and insurance – but when you own a home, you'll always encounter unexpected costs. You may need to get a new furnace, repair your roof or face any number of other maintenance issues. To help prepare for these costs, try to build an emergency fund containing three to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account. Without such a fund, you might be forced to dip into your long-term investments or take on added debt to pay for these unanticipated expenses.
Homeownership can be a rewarding experience – and the rewards will be even be greater when you've "done the numbers" and prepared yourself financially.
 
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