Not a member? Become one today!
         iBerkshires     Berkshire Chamber     MCLA     City Statistics    
North Adams Council Candidates: Joshua Moran
12:19PM / Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Print | Email  

My name is Joshua Moran and I am running for North Adams City Council. I grew up in Clarksburg, graduated from Drury High School, and graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering. I recently moved back to North Adams, after being away since I went to college. I lived in Rhode Island for five years where I worked as a project engineer and then moved to Utah for two years to ski and travel. I now call North Adams home, with my family - Amanda Chilson and our son, Race.

I am an advocate for nature and the outdoors. We are surrounded by vast natural resources that we have only begun to maximize. I want to advance the awareness and use of these natural resources for locals and visitors. These natural resources can help generate revenue for the City as well as help shape the youth of North Adams.

I am running for City Council because I believe in this city therefore I want to offer a balance of youthfulness and progressiveness. There is much discourse about the path our city is following yet there is more needed than just dialogue. I am willing to invest the time and effort to help us succeed. I have the energy and the motivation to help North Adams live up to its full potential and continue on its path of accountability and sustainability. I also represent a demographic of North Adams that can bridge its past to its future. Now that I have a family, I must think about more than just my needs and my future, but the needs of our youth.

1) What do you consider the city's greatest asset?
I believe the city's greatest asset is our natural surroundings. We have access to one of the most popular hiking trails in the world with the Appalachian Trail running through the city. Also with the north entrance to Mount Greylock our city offers a plethora of hiking, biking, trail running and skiing not found in the rest of the state.

2) What do you consider the city's greatest challenge?
Our greatest challenge is funding a quality educational system. Crime, economic development, population increase all comes back to education. Unfortunately, in order to balance the budget our school system has been stripped down to bare bones. In order to have a quality education, we have to be willing to pay for it. I think as voters we have to give voice to our youth who are most affected yet have little say in the educational system of our city.

3) How do you perceive the taxation question: Do you think they are too high/too low/just right? If the city has a spending problem, what should it cut? Should the commercial rate ($32.95, second highest after Pittsfield) be raised again?
Taxes are reasonable even including the water and sewer tax. I don't think the city has a spending problem, I think it comes down to the fact that we still have infrastructure, and maintenance for a city of 30,000 people, however,we only have about 13,000 people to pay for it currently.

Without going through the budget line for line, I am not sure of what we can cut, but I have confidence that most "fat" has been trimmed and the city is running very lean at this time.

The commercial rate is high enough, if we want the city to grow and prosper we cannot expect small business owners to set up shop in our city if the commercial tax rate goes any higher.

4) There are a number capital needs on the horizon, not least a new fire station and police station. How should the city address these needs? Should it forge ahead or wait until better economic times? If it waits, how can it manage in the interim?
There is always the chance that if the city waits for funding to become available, both of these stations could no longer be an option. We might have to look at the possibility of another proposition two and a half with the higher taxes being project specific. So the residents might be paying higher taxes but it will be going directly into making the city a safer place.

5) The North Adams landfill has been operating without a permit for years and needs costly upgrades. Should the city fix it or close it?
In order to fully answer that question, we will have to investigate the cost of the upgrades, also the cost if we do not upgrade and start receiving fines for operating an unpermitted landfill/transfer station, and lastly how much will it cost the residents. A cost comparison must be determined so that all avenues can be explored so that the residents receive the best possible rate to dispose of their garbage and recyclables.

6) Education: The design for the Conte renovation project is nearly complete. What do you think of the project? Should the city reconsider?
A newly renovated K-7 school would be a huge win for the city. The project is multifaceted as it takes care of a historic building that might otherwise have been condemned, the school's design is focusing on progressive learning and I think MCLA will be able to market it to potential students that in the city they are attending college they might possibly be able to intern at a state of the art school.

The city should not reconsider the school plans. A lot of time and investment have been put into the design and permitting of the building by experts at the state and local level. Also the public has put to rest whether or not the school should go forward with a yes vote last summer.

7) Housing: As a councilor, what measures would you support to prevent or remediate blight? Some residents feel there is too much low-income housing that is making the problem worse. If so, how could the council address that?
We first need to address the current situation of inviting low-income housing into the area. Landlords that are publicly setting North Adams up as a haven for low-income housing should have to be accountable. I feel that the city should help those in need, however, we can not expect to bear the burden of the entire county when it comes to low-income housing. The council can start by having talks with landlords who cater to Section 8 housing.

8) Public Safety: The city has suffered through a number of high-profile crimes this summer. What can be done to make the city safer? Would you support spending more to hire more officers? Are there other ways to make it safer without spending?
First, the high-profile crimes were not random acts of violence, meaning that unfortunately the victims knew their assailants. I think a few more police officers would add that much more of a police presence to the city, however I believe that the city can be more proactive at a grass-roots level. Neighborhood watches can start up with the collaborations of neighbors. The residents can also themselves make more of a presence during the city throughout the day, afternoon and weekends. I don't think this will fully stop crime, but I think with the city having an MO of enough is enough can go a long way in assisting police.

9) Resident question: Would the councilors be willing to help organize public meetings with police or other city employees to discuss municipal issues?
Absolutely I would be in favor of it, the more opportunity we have to discuss and communicate with our neighbors, police force and other city's employees only helps the cause.

10) City Council: The city has a "Plan A" government with a strong mayor and limited council. How do you see the role of the council in the city's government? Should it be more proactive or more questioning of the mayor? Or should it focus on more of an advisory role as the voice of constituents? Can it be both? Or should the city's government be changed?
At this current time, I would rather focus on the problems at hand, let us keep things in our city's government the same and possibly look into this issue in the future.

11) The council instituted limited speech from citizens as a way to prevent disruptions. Do you agree with the rules or should they be revisited? If the council allows more speech, how can it prevent disruptive behavior?
It all comes down to being respectful of everyone. I also feel that if a citizen has an issue with the city or an agenda item, it should be addressed prior to the City Council meeting, either at a committee meeting or just contacting a city councilor prior to the council meetings.

12) Business: Should the city create an economic development department, similar to Pittsfield and Adams?
I know that just recently, about 10 months ago, North Adams created a Chamber of Commerce. This is a great start.

13) A national drugstore chain has shown interest in the former St. Francis' Church. The council passed an ordinance that would delay any demolition of older buildings until plans could be reviewed. Do you agree with that? Or should the city allow historic buildings to be demolished after a certain time? Should the city attempt to save St. Francis for other uses?
Absolutely agree, I think that the city needs to fully evaluate any and all demolitions of older buildings. Ask anyone about urban renewal and the answer will be the same, it was an extremely myopic decision that ruined half of Main Street. Let us not look back in 30 years on the rich history the multiple steeples in our city provide and provided for us and have to tell our children/grandchildren we should have saved them, but tore them down for a bigger CVS.

14) The Redevelopment Authority is considering a long-term lease with private developers to turn Western Gateway Heritage State Park into "Greylock Market," an artisan studios and residences. Do agree with the plan? Should the city actively help the current nonprofits in there - the local museum, theater company and television station - relocate?
Yes I agree with the Greylock Market. It is a big win for the city to connect Mass MoCA and Heritage State Park, along with that it will be the first time that museumgoers will be able to see Main Street as they leave MoCA and head to the new Greylock Market.

Yes the city needs to help the current nonprofits that occupy Heritage State Park, since it was these nonprofits that made sure Heritage State Park did not turn into a complete ghost town. So as unfortunate as it is they will have to move because the new Greylock Market will be a great investment for the city, we can not just leave the nonprofits out to dry.

15) Resident question: Do you think municipal employees salaries should be posted online like the state employees are? Why or why not?
Yes, if the taxpayers are paying the salaries, they have a right to know.

More Featured Stories is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Sreet, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2011 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved