Adams Library & Rail Trail Projects Moving Ahead

By Dan GigliottiAdams-Cheshire Correspondent
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The Selectmen heard an update on the library and rail/trail projects from Town Adminstrator Jonathan Butler.

ADAMS, Mass. — A special town meeting will be set in the next couple months to approve funding for the planned Adams Free Library renovation project.

The special town meeting is expected to take place in late January or early February, Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the Selectmen at Wednesday's board meeting.

Austin Design Co. of Colrain, selected last winter as architect for the renovation, has completed its evaluation of the library, with design plans and a detailed cost of the project forthcoming, according to Butler.

Butler said a meeting with other key organizations involved in the library restoration will be held prior to the special town meeting.

"With this information coming together, there will be another meeting with the Project Steering Committee and the Library Trustees in early December. At that time, we hope to begin to finalize a scope for this project so that it can be prepared for bid," Butler said.

The 1897 building, whose cornerstone was laid by President McKinley, needs roofing and masonry work and has to come into compliance with the federal Americans with Disability Act.

The town previously allocated $75,000 in total funds for engineering and design. In total, the Adams Free Library restoration is slated to cost nearly $1 million.

Continued funding for the project is expected to be pursued by way of grant and fundraising campaigns, according to Butler.

The state Department of Transportation will hold an information session to discuss the state of the Ashuwillticook Trail extension and proposed rail extension for the Berkshire Scenic Railway. The presentation will take place in approximately two or three weeks at the Adams Visitors Center, with tentative dates assigned as Nov. 19 or 21, according to Butler.

"We're trying to nail out a date with them, so we can advertise it," Butler said.

In an effort to boost tourism economy and spur local business, the town has partnered with the city of North Adams, MassDOT and Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum to create the Hoosac Valley Service scenic line between the two communities, projected to be ready for passengers in 2014.

The incorporation of the six-tenths of a mile of track along the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail with the Berkshire Scenic Railway — as determined by MassDOT in April — led to a delay in the expected completion of the trail extension project from this year to mid-2014.

In other business, Selectman Joseph Nowak took issue with his fellow selectmen after his proposals to facilitate the attendance and participation of local students was again rebuffed.

"I'm getting exasperated. Each time I try to put something forth ... I do my best to write it out — to make it coherent, so everybody can understand it — and I don't personally see any other selectman putting anything out or trying to start new things. I think we're getting stale," Nowak said.

He submitted a prepared proposal to ask the board to submit questions or concerns to students in school government at Hoosac Valley High School, Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School and St. Stanislaus Kostka School and have them come to a televised meeting to respond. Nowak said asking for questions in writing would solve the time sensitivity issues the other selectmen had raised.

Chairman John Duval suggested that having students come in and share their experiences with government may be a more valuable approach to youth involvement.

"If we decide to have students come in that have been a part of student government, that go to Boston, that want to come in and talk about their experience, that's fine with me personally. Us providing them questions before they come in, I'd rather they come in and talk about their experiences," Duval said.

Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said the submission of questions, in general, is an unnecessary formality altogether.

"Let [students] pick an issue and bring that issue before this board. Like other people do when they come in for citizens conference or petition to have something on the agenda," Harrington said.

Nowak's proposal was denied 3-2, with Richard Blanchard casting his vote in favor of the motion.

Casimer R. Kuza  was appointed to the Board of Registrars; Veterans Day ceremonies will be held at 11 a.m. at Town Hall, followed by brunch at American Legion Post 160, 160 Forest Park Ave; and Butler said the town is seeking the donation of a second Christmas tree for public display.

Typically, a tree is placed on Summer Street and another on the Town Common. The pine tree should be 20-30 feet in height and be fully grown. The town will make arrangements to remove and transport the tree, and will replace it.

Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail,   capital projects,   historical building,   MassDOT,   public library,   scenic rail,   

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