As North Adams addresses its struggling urban renewal efforts, a Baker administration program has the potential to make a significant impact.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito was in North Adams Friday to mark the city's acceptance into the state's Community Compact Program. The Baker administration program, backed by $2 million in funding earlier this year by the Legislature, is designed to help communities throughout Massachusetts address the many knotty problems posed by urban renewal. (Eagle, December 19).
North Adams has had its challenges in this regard, perhaps best symbolized by efforts to develop the Western Gateway Heritage State Park on land controlled by the North Adams Redevelopment Authority. Negotiations with private investors under the name Greylock Market LLC on a long-term plan for the park unraveled earlier this year in the race of considerable difficulties, and the city has learned it will not receive a $1.6 million MassWorks grant to continue work on the park's infrastructure.
Mayor Richard Alcombright, like the rest of the city, has been frustrated by the lack of progress in the park, which over the years has become wrapped up in a Byzantine relationship among the state, city and Redevelopment Authority which plainly has not encouraged progress. The mayor is correct when he said that changes may have to come with the urban renewal plan "to more clearly facilitate the things that we want to do under urban renewal."
Ideally, the Baker administration's Community Compact Program, which North Adams was an excellent candidate for, will be instrumental in bringing about much-needed and overdue progress in North Adams' downtown.