North Adams lifts winter parking ban early

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NORTH ADAMS — The clouds have parted, the snow has melted, and the parking ban has been lifted.

The city has lifted its winter parking ban — the annual curse of every resident-motorist without easy access to off-street parking — three weeks ahead of schedule as the long-term forecast shows so signs of snow's return.

"We've had a fairly good stretch of nice weather," Mayor Thomas Bernard said. "The extended forecast, at least for the next 10 days or so, looks promising, which takes into mid- to late April."

More important, Bernard won the City Council's initial approval Tuesday to permanently end the ban  April 15, a full two weeks earlier than the city's ordinances states.

Traditionally, the parking ban runs from Nov. 1 through April 30, during which time cars are not allowed to park on the street between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. for more than one hour at a time.

With regularity, the mayor moves to lift the ban before the actual April 30 deadline. The new deadline reflects that pattern.

"Even the snow that you get in April tends to be fast moving and doesn't stay around for a particularly long time," Bernard said. "Just to be able to have, as a matter of code, April 15 — I think it provides more reliability for residents to know that there's a fixed date rather than an annual float depending on when the council meeting happens."

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While only a small change, the move to reduce the ban by two weeks will surely be welcomed to those who deal with it on a nightly basis.

"This does help the residents that don't have their own parking and have to use off-street parking," Councilor Marie T. Harpin noted. "This is 15 days they can go back to parking the way they normally park."

The overnight ban could be re-imposed on a temporary basis if winter's last gasps result in an unexpected snowfall in the coming weeks, prompting the mayor to declare a snow emergency.

Councilor Jason LaForest asked Bernard if he had considered permanently lifting the winter parking ban and relying solely on declaring snow emergencies when the city needs the streets cleared.

"I know other communities do that, [but] I think we have enough weather conditions that having something consistent is appropriate," Bernard said.

The council voted unanimously in favor of ending the winter parking ban April 11 this year and an ordinance change ending it on April 15 in all future years. The ordinance revision requires a second vote to take effect.

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


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