Adams Board Unhappy With Commercial Street Work

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Selectmen aren't happy with the conditions of the Commercial Street water line project but have little control over the work.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen are unhappy with the bumpy conditions along Commercial Street, the town's southern entrance.

The Fire District is in the process of replacing two century-old water lines through a $2 million USDA grant along Route 8. The construction is causing backups and bangups, say selectmen.

"Commercial Street is a mess, and I come from a construction background," Selectmen Jeffrey Snoonian said on Wednesday. "I drive a big truck, and I am a big guy; I was tossed around like a rag doll while I was driving on Commercial Street."

The town has little control over the construction because it is a Water Department project. After numerous complaints, Butler approached the Water Department and told the officials the work is not satisfactory.

"I actually couldn't be more adamant with the Water Department without the board instructing me to do so," Butler said. "I am trying to be friendly intergovernmentally, but it's not our project; all we can do is shut the whole project down if we feel road conditions are unsafe."

If it was a town project, the board could hold pay from the contractor until there were better results. The board agreed to wait to see if road conditions get better and if substandard conditions continue, they will work on a new plan of action.

Butler also informed the board that contractors may be shying away from its big road project — planned Park Street Improvement Project — because of challenging conditions.

The streetscape project went out to bid in April but only received two bids, both over the $700,000 budget.

Butler said he believes the low number of bids is because contractors are leery of such challenging projects.

"Local contractors are lacking interest in projects like these after the way the Pittsfield project and currently the Great Barrington project have been," Butler said. "They are very difficult projects to work through; there is high levels of traffic in downtown streets and there are dozens, if not hundreds of stakeholders, when you get into residents, business and other entities with property on the street."

The years-long Pittsfield project revamped the South and North street connector and included safety and beautification upgrades; it also engendered complaints from businesses and residents trying drive and survive along the city's heavily used main artery.

However, Butler said these kinds of projects are usually competitive and he expects better results for Adams the second time around.

In other business,Butler said he received information that a circus would like to use Bowe Field this Saturday. He received a very late notification of the event and said the building, animal and health inspector must rush to perform their inspections. He added that with event like this the town usually has a few months notice.

"This makes it very difficult for the people who issue permits and who have to perform inspections for the circus," Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said. "They have to realign their schedules to take care of this within a weeks' notice."

The Adams Agricultural Fair leases Bowe Field from the town and has control over how it is used. The only permit the town can decide to take away is the entertainment license, which can be put under the Aggie Fair's license. Because the event will not last long, the board felt it was OK to leave the license alone. If any of the town's professional staff find an issue with the circus, they will inform the board.

"All these concerns are not under the purview of the Board of Selectmen," Butler said. "… There is a whole criteria to a situation like this, and we have internal protocol to handle all of these concerns; if any of our pro staff felt that this can't be accommodated for Saturday they would inform us.

The circus advertises "the biggest circus elephants in the world" along with other animals. The board feared the animals might get loose and wreak havoc on Adams.

"I don’t know if those gates were built for the largest elephants in the world," Harrington said. "We usually don’t have elephants at the Aggie Fair."

Police Chief Richard Tarsa said the circus should only last one day and the animals will not stay the night. If they do stay the night, he believes that fenced-in field will contain them. If an elephant gets loose, the police will be able to restrain it, but he doesn't "foresee anyone walking down Park Street with an elephant."

"It is a good event, and I am really glad the circus is coming to town," Butler said. "It is good for families and is good use of the space, but we just want to make sure we have enough notice in the future so we don't have to be the bad guys and cancel it."

The Piccadilly Circus will perform at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 on Saturday. The circus has reportedly been canceled, according to a post on the Aggie Fair's Facebook page.

Butler also informed the board that new directional signage in the town is well under way. There will be five different signs placed throughout the town to help better guide tourists to attractions. There will be signs located on the north and south entrances to the downtown, and there will also be signs along Park Street and on Hoosac Street. There will also be one near the library. The signs can only display nonprofit organizations.

There have been a number of requests to the town to provide or allow directional signage to some of its historic and cultural sites.

"It isn't an answer to all of our requests to enhance signage in the downtown and we need to find a separate piece, I think to accommodate our businesses, but we are definitely going to do a much better job directing visitors to Adams to some of our cornerstone things we are known for," Butler said.

The Department of Public Works has already laid the cement for the signs and they will be installed before the end of the season.

Tags: bidding,   circus,   construction complaints,   Park Street,   road project,   signage,   streetscape,   water line,   

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