Adams Selectmen Updated On Town Projects

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen were updated on three major town projects.

ADAMS, Mass. – The Board of Selectmen were updated on three ongoing projects Wednesday.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler updated the board on the Park Street Improvement, the Route 8 roundabout, and the Memorial school building project. 

After sending out the Park Street Improvement project for rebid because of low bidders, the administration received the same results.

Both J.H. Maxymillian of Pittsfield and Jack Goncalves & Sons of Ludlow returned to bid again; both bids were over the $700,000 budget.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said they are going to take another look at the project and see if they can allocate money from existing funds to increase the budget and cut aspects out of the project to save money.

Butler said it is critical to get the project moving and make changes that would keep the project out of town meeting.

“We do not want to prolong this project into another construction season; it will put the town in a position where it could affect our ability to apply for community development block grants next year,” Butler said. “We don’t want to delay this any longer for the Park Street merchants and the residents because they have already been inconvenienced.”

Butler said he expects to have a solution by early next week.

The board approved the location of a utility pole on the roundabout project that they felt could be a traffic hazard or a liability for the town at a prior meeting two months ago.

Butler said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation speedily addressed the town's concerns and included a more detailed sketch of the project showing the pole's new location. Butler added that town staff was comfortable with the more detailed sketch and location.

Despite the more conclusive sketch and information, many of the Selectmen still had concerns and felt it necessary to amend the motion to ask Verizon, the pole installer, to take on any potential liabilities.

“I just think it’s like buying a house without having an inspection; you are opening yourself up for potential problems,” Selectman Richard Blanchard said.

Butler urged the board to rethink the amendment because it would slow down the process and Verizon most likely would not absorb the liability from the town. He added that all projects have some level of liability and the town has little flexibility because it is a state project.

"The reality is at this point there really isn't any argument to be had over these poles,” he said. “This project is reaching a deadline, funding-wise… and the state is looking to get this authorized by the board so they can move forward.”

The amendment was then denied with a 2-3 vote. The board approved the pole location as is with a 4-1 vote.

While those two projects Butler was urging the board to move quickly on, the administrator asked for patience with the Adams Memorial School building on Park Street because it is "a journey."

“If we rush into something, it probably will fail, and we are going to have a vacant giant building in our downtown,” Butler said. “That is contrary to everything I believe in; that building needs to be a piece of the downtown, not an obstacle.”

The plans for the building are still in a preliminary stage as the town sorts out the options. Both Butler and Selectman Arthur “Skip” Harrington stressed that the town shy away from making any critical decisions before a more complete feasibility report is available.

At this time the building’s roof is being replaced; funds for this project came from a grant. The building needs a heating system replacement to make it useable.

Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said the town shouldn't make any decisions on the former Adams Memorial Middle School until they have more information

Selectman Joseph Nowak disagreed and felt there were too many unknowns in the project and there should be a firmer plan with the buildings use.

“I just personally feel…it's time for us to start looking at this and coming to some sort of conclusion because we are going to study this to death and this has been on our table a long time,” Nowak said.

Nowak said the report says that the building may have unsound structure. If that overly compromised the building will cost much more to refurbish. Nowak felt it was premature to redo the roof of a building that may be unsalvageable.

Butler answered and said the town does not have the funds to perform a structural analysis now and if there was not a roof replacement they would completely lose the building.

Butler said that if they want to depend on grants to complete the project they must be patient. He said moving quickly and making finite decisions will only cost the town money.

“The quicker we want to move it is going to cost the tax payers of Adams more, and the more patience we have the more grant funds we can identify,” he said. "If we rush into something we probably will fail.”

Butler said he has no time frame at all for that project but asked the selectmen to work with people invested in the building and whoever takes his place as town administrator.

Harrington said that the board has not received enough applicants of people interested in serving on the town administrator search committee. The board will expand the allotted time for people to apply to June 25.

Also on Wednesday, the board appointed Joseph Bettis Jr. as the new Department of Public Works Director.

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