Mayor starts site

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Inspired by a "brainstorming" discussion on the Transcript's Topix forum, Alcombright has launched a new Web site, northadamsideas.com, and is soliciting ideas that range from installing downtown benches to tripling parking fees.

"We promised an open and inclusive environment, and we promised to listen to ideas," Alcombright said Sunday. " We have an energized community right now. The site is taking on a life of it's own, and that's what we're hoping will happen."

The site, which started with little fanfare last week, welcomes input from anyone interested in offering suggestions, solutions or insights that target city improvements. Alcombright said local resident Bonnie Jean Spencer first discussed brainstorming venues with him, and Shima business owner Brian Miksic subsequently developed the Web site.

Glenn and Nicole Maloney are moderating.

City Councilor Ronald Boucher, who is expected to be elected council president in January, is already a fan of the site.

"I think it's a real good thing," Boucher said Sunday. " This is what was called for [in the mayoral election] - transparency and a sharing of ideas. You get a different viewpoint from people and that's good. You get things opened up. I think it's good." The following categories for forums already have been established, with all drawing at least one, and in some cases several comments: Downtown Business/ Development, Parks/Green Space/Public Art, City Government, Kids/Young Adults, Housing and Community Outreach.

Discussions and suggestions are blossoming. For example, the Kids forum is generating lively thoughts about the pros and cons of building a city-based skateboard park. Additional subjects include cooperative play space for mothers and children and the possibility of establishing an arcade.

The Housing forum seeks discussion about moderately priced housing, as opposed to "high end" and subsidized housing the city supposedly doesn't need. On the City Government forum, posts suggest that City Council agendas, city ordinances, the city's budgets and its property- assessment records be posted on the North Adams municipal Web site. The Downtown Business forum discusses easing sign restrictions and compliance codes and also offers thoughts about adding new festivals besides the Fall Foliage Festival to celebrate spring, summer and winter.

"When we get into office, we are going to try and prioritize ... look and see what we can do - on the cheap - with volunteers," Alcombright said. "We all know the news from the state is 'no money, no money,' so we'll be looking for things that our volunteers can do that will be visible and exciting to the community."

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