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North Adams Gets MassTrails Grant for Bike Path Design
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:13AM / Monday, August 30, 2021
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Joe and Kathy Arabia listen last week as Mayor Thomas Bernard reads a proclamation on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday accepted a $240,000 grant to begin design on the extension of the so-called "Cariddi Mile" to Protection Avenue.
 
The fiscal 2021 MassTrails grant will be combined with a match of $60,000 the council approved transferred from the land sales account. 
 
The $300,000 total will be used for design and engineering for the proposed shared-use path that will run from the Harriman & West Airport to Protection Avenue through property that's part of the Tourists resort. This will bring the conceptual alignment of the 1.7-mile segment to the 10 percent design level. 
 
The bike path will connect with the proposed one-mile stretch from Galvin Road and the 2.5-mile section currently being constructed in Williamstown from North Street to the Spruces Park. 
 
"The work that has been happening over the past several years, in collaboration with the team at Tourists and others has identified a promising and exciting alignment for the shared use path between Williamstown and North Adams and particularly the first leg of that path," Mayor Thomas Bernard told the City Council last week.
 
The vision of a bike path across the length of the county has been a goal for many years. The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail runs from the Berkshire Mall to Lime Street in Adams and a Pittsfield leg is also now under construction. The plan is for the Williamstown/North Adams leg to eventually hook up with Adams. 
 
A stumbling block has been how to get the bicycle and pedestrian path through the densely populated West End — from the airport to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which included a bike tunnel in its multimillion dollar renovation of Building 6.
 
One section was partially solved by the donation to the city of 9.6 acres on the south side of Route 2 owned by Bay Colony LLC, former owner the Spruces Mobile Home Park, although residents near where the path will pass have objected to its construction. This will connect the Williamstown part that ends at Galvin Road to the airport and its new administrative office and restaurant space. The estimated cost a couple years ago for that section was put at $3.2 million. This is a state project.
 
The entire route from Williamstown had been the called the Mohawk Bike Path but that has changed as the trail has been partitioned for construction. The section from Williamstown to the airport was dubbed unofficially "the Cariddi Mile" by former Mayor Richard Alcombright, a name that many have picked up, but the entire 2.7-mile route is officially called the "North Adams Adventure Trail" project.
 
Late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi had been a strong proponent of a bike path and left the city $210,000 "for the purpose of maintenance and upkeep of the bike path/pedestrian path connecting the Town of Adams and the Town of Williamstown."
 
The mayor also declared September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with Kathy and Joseph Arabia, founders of the AYJ Fund.
 
"[I call on residents to support the efforts of the AYJ Fund in their mission to bring smiles to kids with cancer, connect kids with school and friends through technology and to support research for gliomatosis cerebri and other brain cancers," said the mayor. 
 
A child is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes and more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021. Treatments can cause long-term health issues in most children but only 4 percent of federal funding is dedicated to research of cancer in children.
 
The AYJ Fund is named for the Arabias' daughter Anna Yan Ji, who died from gliomatosis cerebri. The fund provides support for research on the brain cancer on an international level and for local families dealing with childhood brain cancers.
 
Kathy Arabia said many of the children they were working with last year are no long with us and that a number of children in Berkshire County have been diagnosed this year. 
 
"Change at the national level of funding needs to take place, that's what we advocate for at the state and national level," she said. "Four percent of the national funding for cancer is directed toward children, and we really need to change that."
 
Arabia asked for continued support for the families the AYJ Fund helps and for legislation to increase funding, and thanked the community for the support it has given the fund over the years. 
 
In other business, the council approved $16,146 from the Municipal Access Technology Fund to purchase software for the city clerk's office. The program from LL Data Design is expected to aid in accuracy and efficiency in keeping and tracking records including reports, permits, vital records, licenses and committee and board management. The $2,4970 annual maintenance cost for the second and third year will be included in the budget. 
 
Correction: the original article erroneously stated the grant was for the first mile of the North Adams bike path and the not the 1.7 mile section from the airport to Protection Avenue. 
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