Adams-to-Williamstown bike path gets $210,000 boost from Cariddi estate

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NORTH ADAMS — Former state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi was a yearslong champion of a bike path in North Adams.

More than a year after her death, Cariddi is still contributing to the effort.

On Tuesday, the city announced that it received a $210,000 distribution from Cariddi's estate for "the purpose of maintenance and upkeep of the bike/pedestrian path connecting the Town of Adams and the Town of Williamstown."

The gift was one of several unveiled at a special announcement at the North Adams Public Library. Cariddi also left an unrestricted gift of $175,000 to the North Adams Public Library and $35,000 to Drury High School for its library.

"This is a remarkable testament to the representative's legacy," said Mayor Thomas Bernard, who noted the "quiet, humble" way that Cariddi conducted herself.

Cariddi had quietly battled cancer until her death at age 63 in 2017, in the middle of her fourth term serving the 1st Berkshire District.

"Her passing last summer was a shock to many of us and a tremendous loss to all of us," Bernard said. "We miss her service, we miss her insight, but we take comfort, we take inspiration from her example."

The last 1-mile leg of the proposed bike path was already unofficially dubbed the "Cariddi Mile" by former Mayor Richard Alcombright, in recognition of Cariddi's advocacy for the project, which remains in the planning stages.

The gift to the North Adams Public Library has already been accepted by the City Council, but the $210,000 gift for the bike path is expected to be on next week's council agenda.

Bernard said he envisions the money being set aside and earning interest until a path is built.

"In the design meetings that I've been at, the question has always been, `How's it being maintained and who's going to pay for that?' " Bernard said. "This helps to answer that question."

The library's board of trustees will be tasked with determining how to use the $175,000 unrestricted gift Cariddi left.

"We're very happy to receive it, but we'd rather have Gail back," said Rich Remsberg, acting president of the library's board of trustees. "We're very happy to be the recipient of her generosity and will try to do something with it that is in keeping with the growth of the library and her sentiments and spirit."

The School Committee must vote to accept the gift slated for use at the Drury High School Library and will then deliberate how to appropriate the money, according to Bernard.

"I would like to thank you, Rep. Cariddi — wherever you may be. We know that you held education in very high regard," said Superintendent Barbara Malkas.

Friends and family of Cariddi's have established a scholarship in her honor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts that will be available to a sophomore or junior. Preference will be given to local students with an interest in politics or the environment.

"This scholarship will help students from the communities she represented, as well as those who share her commitment to politics and the environment, to join our MCLA community," President James Birge wrote in a statement.

Tuesday's announcement also included a gift of an unspecified amount to the North Adams Historical Society — a timely windfall, as the society plans to move its Museum of History and Science from Western Gateway Heritage State Park to the Holiday Inn next spring.

"Certainly, the gift is going to assist us a long way in the endeavor," said North Adams Historical Society President Charles Cahoon.

After Cariddi's death, the city announced last year that Cariddi had left a $7,000 gift to the North Adams Public Library for the purposes of funding the purchase of astronomy-related materials and programs.

"[Cariddi] thought deeply about civic and civil life. She worked tirelessly on behalf of our city library," said Library Director Mindy Hackner.

The gift came as a surprise to city officials — many of whom had known Cariddi for decades but were unaware that she had any passion for astronomy.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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