North Adams faces a variety of challenges as the new year begins, most or all of them based, not surprisingly, on economics. Addressing them successfully to any extent will, as Mayor Richard Alcombright said Thursday after being sworn in for a third term, involve putting policy over politics, which is a challenge in itself for most communities.
Of course, what one observer of government sees as shameless political shenanigans another will see as legitimate challenges to the powers that be. That aside, however, too many of the disputes in North Adams in recent years have been based more on personalities and trivial pursuits, and the mayor’s admonition Thursday that the city "not spin our wheels in politics" was on target and needed to be said.
The City Council Mayor Alcombright is working with has five new members, an unusually high turnover, but as the mayor noted that inexperience should be balanced by the diversity of experience the councilors’ many professionals offer from a variety of fields. New Council President Lisa Blackmer brings institutional knowledge back to the board.
North Adams will take a blow this month when North Adams Regional Hospital closes its Greylock Pavilion as parent company Northern Berkshire Healthcare continues to wrestle with financial difficulties. The city, however, is going forward with the Heritage State Park (into Greylock Market) and Conte School renovations, the Mohawk Theater offers potential, and both the city and the private Partnership for North Adams will be unveiling plans for the city’s future. Mass MoCA and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts continue to be solid bases upon which to build. The city’s challenges are formidable, but with a cooperative effort, they can be met. Progress is key in 2014.