Good for the concerned citizens of North Adams who used their rights and put their names behind a petition that could bring the $29.7 million borrowing order for renovations at Conte Middle School back before the City Council.
Now what remains to be seen is whether this is a good move for the city.
We have wondered in these columns before if this is a decision better left in the capable hands of the people the citizens elected to make these calls in the first place.
That question was underscored this week when Daniel Collins, a representative of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), called having an approved borrowing order rescinded by citizens' petition "unfamiliar territory." You'll recall that the MSBA is the state body signed on to pay 80 percent of that $29.7 million for the project to turn Conte into a K-7 elementary school, leaving the city responsible for $6.5 million.
Provided all the names on the petition are certified, the borrowing order goes back to the City Council, who already approved it in a 7 to 2 vote. Then, unless the council rescinds the order, a special election will be called to give voters the final say on local commitment to financing the project.
Among our concerns with this borrowing order going back for more votes is how long the city might have to wait to receive another promise of funding from the MSBA should the order fail. How much will basic construction costs rise, and how many more education regulations will have been put in place in that time, thus adding to the city's costs?
Councilor John Barrett III has assured the public that he's been around long enough to say the MSBA money being promised for a school building project now will still be there shortly down the road.
Others seem less sure of this, and counted among that crowd is the MSBA -- the ones holding the purse strings.
The current MSBA is a changed body from that of just a few years ago. Mr. Collins said should the financing be rejected, the MSBA legal department would have to review the situation, but the rejection could very well put the city back at the "Statement of Interest" phase -- otherwise known as Square One.
Mr. Barrett's having been around the block is beginning to seem a small comfort for a very real uncertainty.
This evening will see an important opportunity for the community to weigh in on the future of the city when a North Adams Vision 2030 master planning session is held to discuss conservation and recreation. The session takes places from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at 49 Main St.
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Amy Kacala will be on hand for this workshop, which intends to identify the city's recreational needs, as well as recreational opportunities that could be better marketed to tourists.
The news that area lodging is already filling up for June's Solid Sound Festival highlights the city's latent and actualized potential for drawing in more visitors and for longer stays in the future as other opportunities like the festival manifest. So, now is certainly the time to be thinking about optimizing the city's appeal to visitors and potential new residents.
Many of the Vision 2030 conversations have already played a hand in the good works at play now in the city. What will be your contribution tonight?