NORTH ADAMS -- The city will begin searching for a permanent part-time municipal planner as it embarks on the last leg of its North Adams Vision 2030 master planning sessions.
The next planning workshop, focusing on conservation and recreation, will be held Thursday, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at 49 Main St.
"We need a permanent part-time planner to update our antiquated zoning bylaws and ordinances and align them with our new master plan," Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie said Monday during a discussion about the master planning process. "We need someone not only to do the updates, but also to help ensure the master plan gets carried out. The Planning Board is the entity that will do this, but we need that in-house liaison."
Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said the position will be advertised in the next 30 to 60 days, with about $20,000 of the position's salary already earmarked in the budget and the remaining funds being culled from the city's federal Community Development Block Grant's (CDBG) administrative line item.
"We're definitely at the point where we need to have a planner onboard," Alcombright said. "Mike can oversee the master plan, but his responsibilities, just in regards to writing and carrying the CDBG, make it impossible for him to take this on too. With the commitment we've made to this planning process, we need to have a person in place or we're setting ourselves up to put this master plan on a shelf."
Nuvallie added that the last time the city had a municipal planner was in the 1970s, around the last time the city had a master plan.
Hiring a part-time planner now would allow for the individual to become part of the master planning process, he said.
The planning process continues Thursday, with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Amy Kacala facilitating a workshop aimed at identifying the city's recreational needs, as well as generating a list of recreational opportunities residents know of, but may not be so apparent to visitors.
"We really want to hear from a good cross-section of the community," Kacala said. "We've sent home fliers with children at all of the city's schools and have created this session so that people don't have to stay for the whole meeting. We want to know what the city has and what residents would like to see."
While the extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail into the city, the Berkshire Scenic Railway and the planning of the Mohawk-Mahican Bike Path along Route 2 have generated a lot of interest from residents, Alcombright said the city is looking to identify other hidden recreational gems.
"We have a lot of trails and recreational amenities that you wouldn't know about if you're not from the city," he said. "We want to generate ideas of how do we better our trails and get better exposure for our trailheads. We want to talk about how we get the word out about them to visitors."
One example, the mayor said, is the rising popularity of an access road off of Brown Street that residents have begun to use to gain access to a 3/4 mile stretch of trail along the Hoosic River.
"We also need to begin thinking globally about things, like how to make our streets more than car-friendly," Alcombright said.
"We need to think about making them bike- and pedestrian-friendly in the future."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email