The town will try to keep the Adams Visitor Center open at least part time for the new future after the Berkshire Visitors Bureau moves out this month.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen will be rolling out a plan soon for the Discover the Berkshires Visitors Center on Hoosac Street.
The town-owned building houses the Berkshire Visitors Bureau that will be moving to Pittsfield by the end of the month to join its partners at 1Berkshire in Pittsfield.
The bureau leased the building from the town but was responsible for maintenance, utilities and upkeep. Town officials are now developing a plan to reuse the building and keep the doors open in the meantime.
"We already have a budget for exterior maintenance and won't be running any program out of the building, other than possibly the volunteer program to keep it open on some nights and weekends to the public," Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said in an email on Thursday. "We'll be rolling out a larger proposal in the coming weeks."
Butler described the impact to the town's budget as "minimal." In a recent budget meeting, he said the town is putting aside $20,000 for the operations and $10,000 to establish a volunteer program to staff it. Adams was already responsible for the larger capital repairs and the minimal lease with the Visitors Bureau was not a revenue generator but rather outlined the responsibilities of each party.
"We’re not losing any money from them and they aren't breaking any kind of deal. They have been totally forthright with us about moving throughout this entire process," Butler said. "They’ve been model tenants while I’ve been here, and complete class-acts to work with."
The center was built by the state in 2004 as part of an economic development strategy (seen by many as a consolation prize when the state killed a controversial project at the Greylock Glen) that included more than $4.8 million in grants. The $2.5 million center was to be operated by the Berkshire Visitors Bureau and has been since its opening.
The town is looking for ideas on the reuse of the middle school.
Now with the bureau partnering with the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and Berkshire Creative under one umbrella, all of the organizations are moving to a single Allen Street office in Pittsfield. The entire building is now open — the bureau used the top floors for administrative space and the downstairs held exhibits, tourist information, a meeting room and restrooms for the public.
The center is not the only building falling into the town's hands in the next few months. Once the school year ends in June, the Adams Memorial Middle School will again be vacant.
The school district has been using the middle school during the reconstruction of Hoosac Valley High School. The town has already asked for requests for expressions of interest from any person or organization looking to lease or purchase the building and recently held a site visit there. However, significant repairs will be needed.
The town is keeping an open mind about the possible uses and the request was seeking any type of interest at all. Those expressions of interest are due on Friday, April 20.
Butler has also asked the town's Capital Planning Committee to examine the use of those buildings, which could include shifting another town department into one or the other.
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Lets spend millions studying it and in ten years from now when it's still empty do another study on how much it will cost to refurbish it. At the rate things are going Adams will be a ghost town shortly.