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North Adams Traffic Commission Advises Raising Parking Permit Rates
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:07AM / Saturday, March 23, 2019
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The Traffic Commission will try to determine if metered parking can be installed along the east side of Ashland between Quincy and Summer. It is currently a no-parking zone.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Traffic Commission is recommending the same price for parking permits in both the Center Street and St. Anthony Municipal parking lots.  
 
The commission in January voted to raise the price in the Center Street lot by $10 but couldn't address the St. Anthony lot because it had not been put on the agenda. On Monday, the commissioners agreed that permits in both lots should cost the same. 
 
St. Anthony's prices have been lower than Center Street's and also took into account a reduction during the winter months that Chairwoman Mary Ann King said had been instituted to encourage more parking there. 
 
"I think it was a little confusing for people," she said. "I'd like to go to one price for the daytime, one for overnight and make them the same [year-round]. It's not going to be as confusing."
 
St. Anthony's permits are currently $15 a month during the winter and $20 a month from May to November, or $20 a month year-round for overnight.
 
"I think it should be the same for both lots," said Commissioner David Sacco. "It's not like the other lot is 5 miles away and that makes the Center Street lot so convenient."
 
That works out, he said, to about $1.33 a day for parking. 
 
If accepted by the City Council, the parking permits would be $40 a month for daytime and $45 for overnight in both lots. Parking passes at $10 for three days can be used in either lot. 
 
Council liaison Eric Buddington asked about the request of the owners in the Holden Street condominiums about reducing overnight parking rates because it had not been clear in the commission's recent report to the council. Sacco said the decision had been to raise the rates. 
 
The commission also reviewed a request by Barry Garton of BrewHaHa on West Main Street to install signs at a crosswalk in front of his coffee shop. 
 
"We have often watched our customers stand at the edges of crosswalk for quite some time, cars whizzing by and rarely noticing a person ready and waiting to cross the street," King read from his letter to the commission. "There's already been one incident of a person being clipped while in the crosswalk. We feel something worse will happen if the crosswalk is not more obvious to the brisk, moving traffic on West Main."
 
King said he had initially asked for flashing signs such as those around Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts but she had explained the college had purchased and installed those. 
 
The placement of caution signs for crosswalks is not in ordinance so the commission can vote to refer the request to the Highway Department. Highway Foreman Paul Markland, a member of the commission, said he would look into it. 
 
Buddington asked if markings could be put down in that area to better distinguish parking spaces along the roadway so it's clear where driveways are. Markland said there technically are no parking spaces but rather it is the shoulder of the road where parking is allowed. 
 
King said there is no state or city ordinance stating how far one has to park from a driveway: "The ordinance says you can't park in front of a driveway."
 
At Buddington's request, the commission also voted to recommend adding the term "bike lanes" to three ordinances in Section 13, Motor Vehicles and Traffic, in the city code. 
 
"This came up when the council voted to put bike lanes in on American Legion Drive," he said. "Right now, ordinance just doesn't mention bike lanes. So I thought it would be appropriate to just tack that authority wherever it mentions crosswalks because it seems like the same kinds of things."
 
Three votes were taken to add "bike lanes" to the ordinances referring to tow zones, marked lanes and designations by council.
 
King said a state law would preclude parking along designated bike lanes so that would have to be taken under consideration when instituting them.
 
"There has been a new law passed by the state that you cannot park where there's a bike lane," she said. "So, technically we would have to take parking away from there."
 
The commission deferred a recommendation on implementing metered parking on the east side of Ashland Street between Quincy and Summer streets until it could determine two factors. 
 
Glenn Maloney appeared on behalf of Very Good Property Development, which had inquired more than a year ago about allowing parking in what is now a no-parking zone. The real estate developer owns the property at 48 Ashland. 
 
"This is not just about my building, it's about parking access along that street," Maloney said. 
 
The commission was concerned that there is a turning lane onto Summer and that there is nothing in ordinance referring to parking setbacks for turning lanes. Maloney asked the commission that it be looked at and a decision be made "based on science."
 
He also asked if the curb cut in front of his building to a garage be ignored. "It's never going to be used as a garage. It's a storage unit so it's no different than walking in the door," he said. 
 
King said it didn't matter how the space was used, the curb cut designated it as a driveway. Markland suggested Maloney look into the process of removing the curb cut, saying he did not think it was that expensive. 
 
The commission voted to determine the length of turning lanes based on traffic manuals and that, once determined,
to measure what standard parking could be implemented along that section of road. 
 
Maloney also brought up issues related to the city's procedures and how difficult it had been to determine who to contact or where to bring his request or how to get on the agenda.
 
In other business: The commission welcomed new members Ian Wilson and Jonathan Beaudreau, who were appointed last month; set a regular meeting time of the third Monday of the month at 6 p.m., except holidays; voted to ask the mayor to appoint a new chairman. 
 
King has served on the commission for 29 years, mostly as secretary and/or chairman. "I'd like to pass it along," she said. "I'd just like to be a member."
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