|Drury High Students Offer Ways to Make North Adams Better|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
01:13PM / Thursday, May 10, 2012
|The team of Thane Preite, Alex Candiloro, Nicholas Mirante and Schuyler Robinson presented the most ambitious project: Using the Hoosac Tunnel to spark growth.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Three Drury High School presentations looked to future possibilities of growth for the city in recreation, arts and the Hoosac Tunnel during Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Mayor Richard Alcombright had asked that the students from Melissa Quirk's honors English class be allowed to present their work during the council meeting. Their parents and friends filled much of the audience.
Quirk said her class of 30 researched ways to develop North Adams based on what would make them want to raise their families here. "In a very tight race, we narrowed it down to the top three," she said.
Justin Girard's vision of the city was "where entertainment begins." He advocated for the city to invest in an area for laser tag, which would also bring in fees for concession sales and arcade machines.
The arena would create jobs and keep kids out of trouble, he said, and called for a show hands from the audience and councilors who would be interested in participating. The majority indicated a willingness to try the game more than once.
Councilor David Bond, owner of the Range mini-golf and driving range, said he was impressed by Girard's plan and told him that if he could come up with some numbers he might be willing to go into business together.
| Clockwise from left, teacher Melissa Quirk explains the project; Justin Girard talks laser tag; Emma Waryjasz looks to the arts.
Emma Waryjasz looked at how arts could affect the city's development, laying out a plan that would build on the work already done at the Eclipse Mill by local artist and developer Eric Rudd.
She thought the city could use the artists' loft concept as a model for other empty structures and consider ways to integrate the artists through offering classes for residents.
"We could display the art downtown to show visitors how dedicated we are to our city," Waryjasz said, adding North Adams would be a city improved and built upon by its own residents.
Councilor John Barrett III said Waryjasz had "hit upon the key ingredient" in presenting the arts as a catalyst for growth.
The four-man team of Thane Preite, Alex Candiloro, Nicholas Mirante and Schuyler Robinson presented the most ambitious and long-term project: Using the Hoosac Tunnel to spark growth.
They set out a multiphase plan built around the historic tunnel that would include viewing (such as a park, picnic area, viewing area and tunnel tours); recreational and historical elements (cleaning up the area, restoration of the western portal and the tunnel, hiking trails and a monument to those who died building the tunnel); the return of passenger or scenic rail; and a working train station at Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
Some aspects could be done by volunteers; others were long-term, expensive and would require public and private partnerships.
"We hold the Western Gateway and we want to make something out of it," said Candiloro.
"It's really cool to see the interest you have," said Councilor Nancy Bullett applauding the group for investigating something "near and dear to my heart."
Chairman Michael Bloom commended the students for their efforts. "Your parents and teachers should be very, very proud."
Other "Proposals for a Better North Adams":
• Kyle Clairmont: A 24-hour celebration to mark the 136th anniversary of the completion of Hoosac Tunnel.
• Hannah Rivard: Making the Houghton Mansion an historic tourist attraction.
• Audrey Johnson: Capitalizing on the Houghton Mansion's supposed haunting.
• Matt Scanlon: Fundraising to repair Western Gateway Heritage State Park.
• Destiny Martin: Gala and community events to raise funds for the Mohawk Theater for its 75th anniversary.
• Becky Durant: Raise funds to create a clinic at the North Adams Regional Hospital emergency room.
• Destiny Crews, Catherine Marceau, Renee Sherman-Gauthier: Fundraising to reopen the Mohawk Theater.
• Josh Girone & Jesse DiLego: Educate young people on candidates and encourage them to vote.
• Daelyn Peterson: Create "Route of Art" using sculptures by Mass MoCA and local artists.
• Cain Laikind: A "Youth Matters" program to educate young adults on politics and voting.
• Michael Boland: Utilize the Hoosic River as eco-friendly source of hydroelectric power.
• Kirby Bryce, Nick Trombley, Jake Tatro: Resurrect Fort Massachusetts through fundraising and volunteers.
• Nicole Superneau: Create a study room at the North Adams Public Library.
• Heather Morris: Activities to attract teens to use the library and promote literacy.