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Bond Bill Includes $5M for Greylock Glen Education Center

By Jack Guerino
08:28PM / Thursday, July 17, 2014
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Town Administrator Jonathan Butler is working to get major projects under way before he leaves his post in August to become president of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce.

ADAMS, Mass. — Adams is in line for $5 million for the construction of a long-planned educational center at the Greylock Glen.

Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the Selectmen on Wednesday that state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, is pushing to sustain the funding in the Environmental Bond Bill.

The bill also includes $8,775,000 for the design and construction of Phase 1 of the Hoosic River Restoration Project in North Adams; a $1,100,000 grant to the city of Pittsfield to improve drainage and redirect run-off to vernal pools and wetlands as part of the completion of the multipurpose turf facility at Berkshire Community College; $125,000 for the final phase restoration of Baker's Pond at Kennedy Park in Lenox; and approval to spend funds on the improvement and expansion of Pittsfield's historic Wahconah Park.

The $1.9 billion, four-year bill passed in the Senate last week; both the House and Senate will have to hammer out a compromise legislation to send to the governor.

"It's a big piece, and it would put the town in a position where as a few other parts of this project begin to align in the coming months and years, we have a big chunk of money sitting there ready to be leveraged," Butler said.

He said the structure could house locker rooms, classrooms, and rental store for skis and snow shoes.

"It creates a serious presence at the Greylock Glen and puts it on the map officially in Berkshire County as a destination, and it’s a huge step forward that will hopefully create the energy to have even more things happen," Butler said.

He added that the town is nearing the end of negations with the Department of Conservation and Recreation Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.

"We put a lot of work into this, and we do have kind of a final draft at this point that represents the town’s interest as well as the state stakeholders," he said. "We have negotiated what we believe is a contractor friendly lease, which is what we need to bring interest into different private development projects."

Butler said the town is also looking to receive $1.75 million from the State Transportation Bill to finish major infrastructure projects at the glen.

He said $2 million already has been used to restructure roads and bring gas and electricity to the glen, covering 55 percent of the project, and that the $1.75 million will complete the cost.

Butler said the often referenced "slow-moving project" is really picking up steam.  

"I like to use the term journey for these long-term projects… if there has ever been one it is this one…but this particular variation has moved along incrementally well for 10 years," he said. "It has no major setbacks and we have continued to advance this projects as it was initially designed in 2005 and 2006."

The town was named the developer of the project after several private attempts to develop the 1,000-acre section of the Mount Greylock State Reservation failed to launch. Plans include primitive camping and trail system, an amphitheater, and a lodging and conference center that has so far failed to garner interest, on about 50 acres of the state land.

In addition to news about the Greylock Glen, Butler said the library renovation project and the Park Street improvement project should be under way by the end of the month.

Butler leaves the post of town administrator Aug. 23 and said he is trying to square away many of the major projects.

He said there have been meetings in regard to the streetscape project and its impact on traffic. The town's main road is also a main north/south connector as Route 8. High-traffic areas often cause difficulties during construction, and Butler said the contractor is being pre-emptive about it.

"We want to make sure we can keep traffic moving," he said. "We want to make sure we can keep parts of Park Street open for parking during this project."

Butler said he met with state Department of Transportation representatives and the redesign plans for the extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail from Hoosac Street north to Lime Street are complete. The extension also accommodates the coming Berkshire Scenic Railway.

He said a special town meeting will have to take place because of a few small easements.

"We are excited to finally get the redesign plan. We have been waiting to get them for some time. So it seems like MassDOT is moving it forward and, slowly but surely, things are lining up for this big project one thing at a time," he said.

Butler also said the regional president of National Grid has agreed to meet with Adams and North Adams officials to discuss possible upgrades to the substation on Zylonite Station Road because of the recent power outages.

Butler reported that the last Berkshire Brownfields Assessment Program meeting approved $33,000 for a Phase 2 environmental site assessment at 50 Commercial St., a former auto garage.

"The intention here is to have a clear road map as to what is going to happen on that property … so we can work towards demolition," he said.  

In other business, the board appointed Selectman Joseph Nowak to represent Adams on the Forest Land Advisory Board. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission is putting a together a board to discuss designated National Forest area in 20 municipalities in Berkshire and Franklin counties.

Nowak reported the end results of the Solarize Mass Program. He said Adams reached tier-four status and 18 systems are planned to be installed. Overall, Adams produced the highest average amount of kilowatts of the 15 municipalities in the program. 


Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail,   bond bill,   Greylock Glen,   railway,   streetscape,   

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