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North Adams Council Sets Vote on New School Borrowing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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New Administrative Officer Marya Kozik with Councilors Andrew Fitch and Lisa Blackmer. Kozik was introduced to the council on Tuesday night.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council will hold a special meeting on Monday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m. to authorize borrowing for the Greylock School project. 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey said she had asked for the special meeting to allow for more time for presentation and discussion.
"I knew your agenda would be full on the 23rd," she told the council on Tuesday. "But we specifically want to have enough time for the council in the beginning of our outreach for the public to be read in about the Greylock project."
The proposal to build a $65 million school to replace the aging Greylock School in the West End was approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority two weeks ago. 
"We will also do a significant amount of outreach to the public, which will eventually involve a debt exclusion vote," said the mayor. 
Macksey invited the public to attend or watch the July 22 presentation to the City Council.
"We're also going to have some community forums on Thursday, Aug. 15, at Greylock School," she said. "It will also include a tour of the school as well as a full presentation of the new project."
The mayor anticipated a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion sometime in September. The city has 120 days from the MSBA vote to obtain borrowing approval and a positive vote on the debt exclusion. 
The Colegrove Park Elementary School project did not require a debt exclusion. The city had nearly $1 million in annual debt falling off the books a decade ago when the project was authorized. 
The estimated cost for a new Greylock School is $65,362,859 with a maximum grant estimated at $41,557,218.
An exclusion would means debt incurred from the borrowing would not permanently affect the tax rate or the city's levy capacity as it would only last until the estimated $23,805,641 in debt is paid.
The mayor also introduced Marya Kozik as the new administrative officer and Stacy Abuisi as auditor. Katherine Eade, who has been filling in part time as administrative officer for the past two years as the mayor tried to fill the post. She will continue part time as special assistant to the mayor.
Kozik is a former Adams selectwoman and worked in the office of former state Rep. Peter Larkin. She has worked in finance, management and development for business and educational entities, most recently for Berkshire Country Day School.
Abuisi had been business manager in the Public Safety Department before becoming grant administrator and procurement officer at City Hall. She replaces David Fierro Jr. who is now finance director in the Williamstown accountant's office. 
The mayor said procurement would now fall under the administrative officer and that Abuisi, Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie, Eade and herself would monitor the grants. 
"We haven't really navigated that," she said. "We want to get everybody in their new roles and see where we're feeling the pinch so to say. But Stacy has done an excellent, excellent, excellent job in that role. The number of grants that she's applied to and worked with the public sector on has been incredible. ... we're going to give Marya some time to get up to speed, get into our new swing of things and then we'll evaluate that position as well."
In other business: 
The council postponed to July 23 final adoption of a zoning ordinance change to include a property on Rickard Street and changes in fee and fines because there was not enough time to publish them 10 business days prior because of the holiday closings.
• A change in the marijuana ordinance to include delivery and set the number of retail establishments to four was postponed to the first meeting in August because it has not yet gone through the General Government Committee.
• Ordinances on litter and feeding wildlife were also continued to July 23 and referred to the Public Safety Committee.
• The council authorized account transfers totaling $702,265.98 to close out the fiscal 2024 books and $56,171.35 from the land sale account to close out the city's share of the $753,000 Northeast hangar project at the airport. 
• Lisa Dent, director of public programs at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts, spoke of some of the public programs at the museum at the invitation of Councilor Andrew Fitch, including a $350,000 grant from MountainOne that will enhance programs and cover free community days. 
• Fitch, during councilor's concerns, expressed concern over a post by the departing Stamford School principal that detailed some of his experiences with bigotry and prejudice within the small Vermont town. The principal, who is gay, has been accused of promoting an "agenda" by some residents.
"This is happening everywhere, this kind of prejudice, bigotry, if you will, social shunning. And it's just something that we really need to be careful of here, too," said the councilor, an organizer with North Adams Pride. "I mean, North Adams has been overwhelmingly welcoming in my experience, but this is out there."
• During open forum, Benjamin Lamb of Marion Avenue said police had failed to curb unleashed dogs on West Main Street despite repeated complaints the dogs had chased and attacked neighborhood residents including his family.
"For years now these dogs have been allowed to defecate on neighboring properties and to terrorize, chase, attack and, in some cases, cause bodily harm to at least a dozen known individuals since 2020," he said. "All that has been done was a single set of fines in 2023."
He said no actions had been taken against the owners despite repeated calls to the animal control officer and police and that he found reports had not been taken of some calls. 
"Meanwhile, these animals remain off leash almost daily harassing and chasing everyone from babies to seniors with owners who unapologetically permit their dogs to be a danger to others," he told the council. 


Tags: borrowing,   brayton/greylock project,   

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By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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See a list of Farmer's Markets here
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Bousquet Mountain, Pittsfield 
Time: 1 to 10:30 p.m.
Dance to the rhythm of The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow and other performers as mountains surround you. The ski resort's Mountain Day festival returns, featuring performances by Bella's Bartok, Vaguely Pagan, Love Crumbs, Jackson Whalan, and, of course, The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow. Information here
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