As a casual observer of local government, I just finished watching the meeting of the North Adams City Council of March 27. As a result, I have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that when a Sony TV is well struck with a 3-iron, it does not carry nearly as far as a well-struck Titleist.
One of the issues discussed at the meeting is a proposal for diagonal parking (on a trial basis) on part of Main Street. There are, in my opinion, a few points that bear further scrutiny. First among them is the phrase, "if it works." I heard this several times. What does "if it works" mean? What objective measurement will be applied to determine "if it works?"
One could infer from the limited discussion that city officials are trying to solve a problem of excessive speed on Main Street. Okay, let’s accept that as the problem. Is diagonal parking a rational solution to that problem? If so, let’s have some diagonal parking down here on Church and Ashland Streets too, because there is plenty of excessive speed down here also.
Is this really an example of the level of problem-solving ability this council wishes to portray? Diagonal parking with an associated loss of $4,400 in revenue to the city (that’s a sum equivalent to the tax on a $300,000 home), in difficult times when people are struggling to pay taxes and fees, is the recommended solution to excessive speed on Main Street. Really? Only in government can you get away with that kind of thinking.
Let me give it a try. Place a police officer or two on the street, park a cruiser or two on the street, stop and ticket the offenders for a week or two, the word gets out, the problem abates with no loss of revenue to the city. A problem of excessive speed on Main Street should be framed only in the context of public safety, and the solution to that problem is enforcement of existing traffic laws. After all, we’re talking about trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and baby strollers. Public safety should be the overriding concern of public officials.
Once again it seems that Mr. Barrett was the only councilor to have given this issue careful thought and consequently was able to share meaningful commentary. Three other councilors offered comments that could be described as laughable and are not written about in this letter. Four other councilors offered only silence. I’m not sure what that means. Oh, and about the Sony, got to retrieve it from the shrubbery!
Thomas D. Cary