ADAMS, Mass. — The town will try to salvage the Cook Street grain elevator and remediate the area in hopes of turning it into a park.
Director of Community Development Donna Cesan asked the Selectmen to endorse a grant application to secure up to $200,000 in Brownfield funds from the Environmental Protection Agency to remediate the former Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain Property.
"I think people in town really want to save that grain elevator," Cesan said. "It is a landmark along route 8 and there is a lot of history there so to the degree that we can reuse that we want to."
The town took the property for back taxes some time ago and with its optimal location near the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the Berkshire Scenic Rail line, town officials think it is a perfect place for a park.
Senior Project Manager Tom Biolsi with TRC Environmental, who the town hired to analyze the area, said a use restriction was placed on the property back in the 1990s when petroleum contamination was found.
He said they also found coal remnants in one of the foundations (the building was formally used to store coal and grain) and there is an underground storage tank still on the property.
"We confirmed that there is one underground storage tank so part of the application for EPA cleanup is to remove that and clean up some of the petroleum that remains in the ground," he said.
He added that depending on their own findings, some of this topsoil may have to be removed or somehow isolated so it is not accessible in the park.
Currently, on the property, there is the large wooden structure and a coal shed. There are also two remaining foundations left from structures the town demolished.
Biolsi said the structures may also contain hazardous materials that would need to be abated.
Cesan said the town is "piecing" together the project and as they go along, and the project would ultimately draw from multiple grant sources. She said what is found in the environmental study would inform how much of the structure can be salvaged and the design of the possible park.
"This assessment work will help inform the design and what areas we need to avoid," she said.
She added that it is likely that the $200,000 would not totally cover the remediation but the town did not want to miss a grant cycle.
Biolsi said he would receive the official results from the test in ten days.
Selectman Joseph Nowak said he was happy the town was going to attempt to save the structure.
"That is one of a kind and you don’t really see those types of grain elevators," he said. "You see them a lot out west but not in New England and I think it is certainly worth refurbishing because it is part of our history."
The Selectmen also endorsed entering the Tier 2 portion of the Complete Streets program and refined and submitted a list of 40 possible projects to the state.
The Selectmen adopted the policy last year and it awards qualifying communities funds to improve streets, sidewalks, and intersections to better transportation for all travel modes.
Matt Chase of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, who is working with the town to develop the list, said he has collected data, met with the traffic commission and developed a list of projects ranked by readiness.
"We are developing projects that are easy to construct in a timely fashion," he said.
He said the town will submit the list to the state before the end of the year and if the projects are approved the town could be awarded $400,000 to execute one project or multiple.
Chairman John Duval said one of his concerns was the Hoosac Street, East Hoosac Street intersection.
Chase said the site has been looked at before and in the past, it did not meet the criteria for a traffic light. He said 500 cars would have to pass through the area an hour for near eight hours straight to perk the state’s interest.
He said less expensive things can be done to make the intersection safer.
Nowak also had concerns about Hoosac Street where it meets Park Street.
"It is very difficult because if you are coming out and you want to turn left cars coming from the north slow down to take the corner and you don’t have a chance to get out because it is backed up," he said.
Chase said the intersection is a high accident area however the project may be too big for the Complete Streets project. To be done correctly would have to extend beyond the immediate intersection, he said.
He said making these changes and adding a traffic light would likely cost $1 million and the project may be better suited for the Transportation Improvement Program.
Cesan added that it would be better to hold that project until after the town completes the Visitor Center Parking Lot and are able to quantify increased traffic from the Berkshire Scenic Railway and other coming developments in town.
Police Chief Richard Tarsa, who sits on the Traffic Commission, said Chase and Cesan addressed many of the Commission’s concerns on the list.
"We have had two meetings and they were extensive we went through everything on the list," he said. "Our concerns were voiced, and they took them into consideration. They were good meetings."
Before closing, Selectwoman Christine Hoyt asked if the town could adopt a ribbon cutting policy that would create an application for new business to fill out and the town would help coordinate ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
"It can be led by the Selectmen and it will show that the town is open for business and celebrate those businesses that are in town," she said.
She said the policy would allow the town to properly publicize a new business and provide some help in the grand opening.
She said current businesses can also use the application to inform the town of anniversaries or milestones.
Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said he thought it was a good idea.
"It’s good for press and a good way to celebrate what is going on in town at really no cost," he said. "We just have to buy some giant scissors and ribbon."
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