Despite near heroic efforts by the downtown business community, artists, leaders of government and officials at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, our North Adams Main Street continues to lack in meeting it's potential in drawing tourist into our business district.
Just why is this and what can be done to build a stronger tourist draw?
Simply put, the basic problems that hinder travelers is the fact that their cars are between the Mass MoCA and the downtown, thus establishing a barrier between both locations. Many visitors tend to visit the museum only to jump into their cars upon leaving MoCA, head straight to Route 2 or 8 and ignore driving to the Main Street.
It is important for city officials and the business community to support an experimental and seasonal trial in which traffic leaving the MoCA parking lot can only turn right or left, rather than straight up St. Anthony Drive and heading directly out of the city. Consequently, vehicles would be directed toward Main Street and then to Route 2, exposing the area to the potential of greater economic benefit.
This experiment would give us a baseline of tourist flow and business growth that may result with this change. If workable and beneficial as I think it would be, the plan could be established permanently during the tourist season.
A recorded message welcoming people to the museum and briefly giving them information to Main Street should be located near the parking lot. Having the message near their cars the message may well be more powerful than pamphlets found in the museum. When people enter or leave and have a period of time to walk, talk and become engaged in conversation, it may become a distraction and they jump into their cars and head out of town. Information being close to their cars would be a more effective incentive to visiting the downtown.
Lastly, and of great importance, is the desire to see that Mass MoCA and Main Street merge, with some of the art from the museum in the downtown district. Mass MoCA would be an extension of Main Street and Main Street would be an extension of the museum. People come to see the art and having the art out in public areas would also be a draw for visitors to go downtown.
The potential for economic growth is within this letter and, it is hoped that these suggestions will be implemented in building a stronger business district for our community.