Greylock Glen Advisory Committee member George Haddad said development could take 30 years and it is important for the town to take it slow and be careful because it is the 'last 50 acres' the town has to develop.
Greylock Glen Finds No Interest From Developers
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff 07:35PM / Thursday, January 12, 2012
On the left, Edward Whatley, project manager for the building infrastructure at the Greylock Glen gave a detailed presentation on the work that is planned.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Greylock Glen Advisory Committee did everything but shout from the mountaintop and only got a tiny echo back.
In September, the committee blanketed developers, consultants, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, architects and real estate agencies asking for interest in developing a lodging and conference center on the 50 acres and received just one lonely response.
Now the committee is shifting focus back to developing campgrounds and hiking trails first in hopes to attract a developer in the future.
"We received a poor response," Donna Cesan, director of community development, said on Thursday. "I'm suggesting we focus more on the campground and put the conference center to the side for now."
In September, the town sent out a request for expressions of interest to 30 developers, 30 developing consultants, advertised it in publications including New England Real Estate Journal and Boston Globe, and asked 25 other architectures, real estate and other development firms to share it with all of their contacts.
After receiving only one response by the Dec. 2 deadline, the committee had a consultant follow up with the developers to find out why there was no interest and the No. 1 reason was the economy.
"It is extremely difficult to secure private capital in this current economy," Cesan said. "About half of the respondents expressed concern about the location. They indicated that in this point in time, many firms can only secure financial backing in proven and primary markets like New York City or Boston."
Thirdly, developers shied away from the project because of a lack of nearby amenities, such as spas or fitness center, and the developer would have to construct those themselves and that it would not be possible without significant incentives from the town and state.
Committee member George Haddad said he wasn't surprised in the response because the of the size of the project.
"This is not going to be a quick and easy project," Haddad said. "I'm disappointed but I'm not surprised."
Without interest in the center, the committee will now try to make the land as "shovel ready" as possible by finishing permits, developing hiking trails and installing infrastructure. However, adding insult to injury, the project did not receive a $4.5 million MassWorks grant for the water, sewer, electric and road infrastructure but did receive $2 million from the state supplemental budget bill last year.
The committee planned $4.3 million in upgrades and the $2 million must be constructed by mid-2013. The committee will either have to scale back its infrastructure plan or find the additional funding. Cesan said the town has applied for $2 million through the federal Economic Development Administration and will continue to look at other funding option.
"I am confident it will all be paid by grants," Cesan said.
Edward Whatley, a project manager with the engineering firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin hired for the infrastructure, suggested the project should focus this $2 million on digging as much of the roads as possible and installing water and sewer because the above-ground electric would not interfere with a possible development. A water tank that would provide fire protection to the campground would have to be scrapped this time around.
The series of setbacks for the project triggered fears of the same type of failure the town has seen on that land for years. Former Selectman Edward Driscoll got into a passionate back and forth with Haddad about the project. Driscoll said he feared the campground would be the end of development and the town will be stuck paying to maintain the area. Haddad responded by saying it was too important to the town to stop there. Development could last 30 years and the town will need to be careful and keep plugging away because it would reap benefits beyond the tax rolls, Haddad said.
"I think we're doing it the right way," Haddad said.
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Quite obvious through the sarcastic tone of the reporter that IBerkshires is rooting for this project to fail. They are almost ridiculing the Glen Advisory Committee. Maybe they get more hits if the projects fails! Great priorities.
I think iBerkshires should root for it to fail, though I don't think they are, this is just a dumb idea. It's been a dumb idea all the way back to Alan Cantor - Adams is trying force a market where one doesn't exist.
An environmental / alternate energy hands on teaching facility (much like the ones out in Colorado) is the obvious best use of this property. Tying in with MCLA, BCC, and Williams College's environmental programs would help secure the project.
huh, if you spent any time at all at the Greylock Glen to see the amount of people that are up there on a daily basis, it's amazing, it's the busiest place in town, you would understand that we need to find a way to utilize that to our advantage.
I'm pretty confident that "Oh Adams" has none of their own ideas. They just criticize everyone else and it makes them feel better about the fact that they have nothing to offer their community. The quicker Adams roots out the naysayers, the better for everyone else.
The major problem for any economic development in north county is a complete lack of a convenient way to travel. The roads we have are substandard and old, their set up limits travel speeds and passing lanes. The time it takes to get from a highway (or anything like one) to the glen is an eternity by city standards. We do have cities nearby with large populations, it's just difficult for them to see us beyond all the traveling. We are only 160 miles form NYC and only 145 miles from Boston. This is nothing in comparison to Manchester VT, or to Maine. (of course if we put in connection roads to the highway, our downtowns will suffer right? ha!)
Editor: I think you're on the money there. The sad thing is that once you could get here from there. North County has to work together to create a destination that will lure people. Let's see if North Adams gets any bites on Heritage Park.
I admit I am not an expert on state funding and the like...but, I can understand frustration about this project (if you can even call it a project). What we seem to have had plenty of is ideas. From a casino to a golf course to a campground to housing etc... What we can't seem to do is make a decision and make it happen. In the meantime, and now the mean time according to George is the next 30 years the townspeople wait and wonder what is next.It is long past time to make something happen, which could include deciding it should stay as open space. Doesn't the state or federal government sometimes pay money to keep land undeveloped? Could this be an option?The way this is going our grandkids will be lucky to see anything done.
Lila - I'm not doubting the Glen is a busy place, I've been there many a time. If there were a charge to enter however, I think the use would dwindle severely - as seen at all our local state parks.
I believe the Glen to have huge potential, just not in the bursting bubble of the "creative economy" (which I predicted 2 yrs ago). If you look at what are the fastest growing college majors and economic sectors - environment and energy are at or near the top.
People are traveling long distances to learn about decentralized energy production and installation, permaculture, aquaculture, and sustainability (and will be for the foreseeable future). The Mid-West and West Coast have many of institutions dedicated to these knowledge bases - the East Coast - not so much.
Hey people, Adams will never change. The only way to create a change is to have a by pass through north county from south county. Any tourist that comes to the Berkshires stays in south county because of the highway access. No one wants to travel to north county because it's full of police every 1 mile taking radar and the speed limit is 35mph most of the way. It takes too long to get from south to north county FOR NOTHING. There is nothing here and never will be. 1 response!!!! JOKE!
Donna Cesan has put a HUGE amount of energy into this project, she's done pretty much all she could possibly do to get this off the ground and I know her intentions were to bring something to Adams that would create a big draw for local businesses. Now that the Glen development seems to be changing (possibly to a campground, trails, etc...) if not being put on the back burner for a long while, I hope she'll put even more energy into helping find funding for the old theater on Park St. That's a huge project with some really interesting green energy aspects that could provide a draw directly to Park Street in addition to the bike trail (and bring a unique audience along with it). Honestly, if the theater had been done by now I'm guessing developers may actually have been more interested in the Glen. It may not be a spa, but it would be a significant "amenity" to have a local entertainment venue of that caliber. Best of luck Donna.
Couple of things---1) North County suffers from a lack of bed space. We all think our lot will improve if we increase this--but I think it might be a case of "it isn't there because the market isn't there." What possible reason (other than to walk your dogs!) would people have for going to the Glen, or, unfortunately, to Adams? Honestly? This isn't much of a destination...there's no infrastructure to support it.
2) "We need to find a way to tap into the number of people up at the glen" --the many people you see are, excuse the frankness, using the glen as a doggie toilet. And maybe getting a little exercise, too. They're not spending money, or doing anything that would generate revenue...and as soon as it cost something to use the glen, they'd stop coming.
I love the suggestion a poster made that the town investigate getting a subsidy for leaving the land GREEN and undeveloped. That will undoubtedly generate more revenue than developing that space into a boondoggle ever will.
Its time is gone, this goes back to the early 50's its over, it will only fail, try and see if Adams can get back the building that now has the visitor center snd use that land for a new state of the art FireDept., now thats getting a bang for your buck.
The main problem with everything around here, as I see it, is that no matter what is suggested in Adams or North Adams you have a great number of residents that have never even vacationed outside of this area and are very tight with every nickel so none of them think outside the box.
What the real problem with the Glen issue as it stands is for years we have spent our tax money on studies and experts and plans and removing invasive plants and for what? The experts and consultants are making out GREAT! If this were a business it would be bankrupt ten times over. You can't wait 30 years to develop a business plan. That is letting the business run you instead of you running the business. Do something or do nothing but either is better than the waste of time and tax money that is taking place. How much more will we spend over the next 30 years??
Just to set record striaght. I was taking about the very first plan. This had the golf course, a lake for recreation,downhill skiing [ very limited] 1200 Condos etc and much more would have take more then Thirty Years for full buildout. That was what I was told at that time by the Developer. The reportter made a mistake.
There was a beautiful (top 10 in the state if ranked) golf course built and playable in the early 1970's at the Glen, and the project managers could not get that going, I think due to funding. I don't think it opened at all but some people 'unofficially' played it.
That was a sad waste of a true gem of a golf course. Good luck this time Adams! Don't let the naysayers get you down. The views are beautiful all through the Adams/Cheshire valley!
I agree with Jason, I love that land and would like to see it left unspoiled for nature enthusiasts and hikers.I wrote this poem as an advocate of natural preserved land.
The Greylock Glen
Leave the glen alone all by itself
go there for respite,
Listen to the breezes
while the water trickles.
Lie down upon the ground,
watch the clouds pass by.
The glen is self-sustaining.
The glen gives border to orchards.
The glen is a protectorate.
The glen gives peace of mind.
The glen is a reminder
that without protest
some big moneyed beast
will end the glen.
Concrete roads and erect signs
will steal its fragile existence.
The glen is precious,
a niche of natural beauty.
Leave the glen alone all by itself!
Needs to be a strong push for a casino, the town should be talking to the big ones and push it in, the "Western Mass" license is going to end up in Palmer.
We have no "factories" for jobs, everyone talks about bring a tourist area well you need something to attract them and a Casino would do that. the jobs it would make would give a job to everyone from central to northern Berkshire one if they wanted it. this would be a great location for one it would bring money from NY and VT into Mass, turning stone and the CT are not that close so no major overlap, Saratoga Casino is all video, We need somebody to be talking to Caesars Entertainment, they know what they are doing and have opened in many states.
I agree with Linda - enjoy it as it is because it's beautiful. Build all kinds of crap on it and charge fees and you'll be hurting the locals. Build some nice mountain bike, hiking and running trails plus cross country skiing trails and you'll get some visitors who might stay in local accomodations, eat in local restaurants. Or are there any in Adams?
There has not been an once of progress in Adams for 70 year except the bike trail which by way the worked out fantastic. Progress in this town is always stifled by a bunch of naysayers who have never lived anywhere else or even gone on vacation beyond the North East but they all seem to think they are the authority of what will work. The town has been dying a slow death for the last 50 years because no one every feeds it.