Mayor isn't to blame for North Adams' struggles

To the editor:

Steven Dew's May 17 letter blaming North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright for being "nothing more than a spectator to the slow-motion catastrophe" of closures in North Adams was so mean-spirited that it reminded me that not all the political venom these days comes from Donald Trump.

I grew up in North Adams, came back from college to teach there, and still care about the city. And I don't like people ripping a leader who has tried to bring the North Adams community together under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. It reminds me how people have tried to blame everything from Benghazi to the Ebola epidemic on President Obama. Would Mr. Dew also like to personally blame former Mayor John Barrett for the closure of Sprague Electric or the mills on Union Street?

The reality is that the demolition of the church, closure of the hospital, closure of Price Chopper, closure of The Transcript, while all gut-wrenching, are examples of the kind of economic dislocation that is happening all over America. Economic forces are mostly beyond anyone's control. You might as well try to stop bad weather from happening. Social and economic change happen. Inexorably.

So when Mr. Dew writes that "protecting his citizens and those who rely on North Adams in the surrounding towns is apparently beyond Mr. Alcombright's capabilities," he ironically offers the only insight that is worth preserving in his bitter letter: nobody that I know of has those comic-book super powers to "protect" us as he wants. Like it or not, some of our cherished landmarks are gone — but we are replacing them with others like a vigorous MCLA, an ever-evolving Mass MoCA, mills restored and repurposed, a renewed Conte school, and more.


This is not to say that North Adams isn't still struggling, like most post-industrial communities around our country. St. Francis of Assisi once said, "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." I think Mayor Alcombright's style and philosophy live up to these words.

Bob Scrivens, Williamstown