NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council next week will be asked to accept a gift of land that will allow the construction of a skateboard park at Noel Field Athletic Complex.
Porches Inn owner John W. "Jack" Wadsworth purchased the former Modern Liquors for $140,000 on Nov. 19 from Modern Dairy & Liquors Inc.
Mayor Richard Alcombright had indicated some time ago that Wadsworth — who purchased the former Homestead Bar and renovated it as the UNO Community Center — might be willing to buy the former liquor store for the city.
The structure that sits next to the Hot Dog Ranch would be demolished to create a new parking area and make way for a planned skateboard and BMX bike park.
Alcombright, in a communication to the City Council, said North Adams had been awarded the state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant it had applied for earlier this year. The PARC grant, with matching funds from the city's 2016 Community Development Block Grant, would allow for the construction of the $676,000 skate park.
"As you know, it has been the intent of my administration to locate a skate park at the athletic complex. To facilitate parking within the scope of this project, this parcel will be committed to replace the parking lot currently adjacent to the north. I anticipate demolition of the building before the end of calendar year 2016," Alcombright wrote in his communication.
The skate park has been under consideration for some years and was initially sparked by a group of young people working with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The proposal was integrated into the city's new master plan and CDBG money last year was used to develop designs for the facility.
The skate park became something of a political football in the recent election, with Alcombright defending the park as a "world-class" amenity for both local youth and serious athletes. His opponent, John Barrett III, said he would have used the CDBG to fight blight, not build a park.
Barrett, however, had also eyed the vacant liquor store as a way to expand Noel Field. In 2009 as mayor, he had asked the council to approve $315,000 in borrowing to purchase (for $265,000) and demolish the property, pending a matching PARC grant. Alcombright killed the deal in 2010 when the grant fell through.
Modern Liquors was once a large dairy facility operated by the late Robert Steele that pasteurized and packaged milk from area farms, supplied milk to local schools and had a counter for ice cream and other dairy products. The long-vacant liquor store opened after the dairy was shut down more than 35 years ago.
The City Council will also be asked to approve a new compensation and classification plan to reflect a one-year contract with North Adams Police Association Local 382 and with Teamsters 404, representing employees in the Department of Public Works.
The city has settled contract with both to include a 1 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2015, and another 1 percent raise effective Jan. 1, 2016. Alcombright, in his communication to the council, said the K-9 officer has also been adjusted as a position as part of the city's efforts to eliminate stipends. The 8 percent stipend has been negotiated into the pay scale. The increase in salaries would be about $69,000.
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