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Armory Getting Elevator

Tammy Daniels

The vestibule for elevator access is being constructed on the Porter Street side of the armory on Ashland Street.

Wondering what that little building on the Porter Street side of the armory is? It's the entrance to an elevator.

The handicapped access is just one of the many renovations being undertaken to transform the former military building into a facility suitable for community use.

The city took over the state structure in 2007 and began fixing it up — little by little — with the help of grants and state and federal funding.

Michael Nuvallie, of the city's Office of Community Development, said last week that this is just the latest in a number of project phases that began with the redoing the roof.

The construction of the vestibule and elevator will cost an estimated $324,000 and the work is being done by Burke Construction of Adams. Some $375,000 was targeted for the project by U.S. Rep. John W. Olver in the 2010 omnibus appropriations bill to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

So far, the building's been stabilized, new concrete stairs and walkways have been poured and other exterior upgrades have been made. 

"We picked four spots for an elevator; the best one for the dollar is Porter Street," said Nuvallie. "It  makes sense for traffic and we can put handicapped parking there, too."

This phase should be completed by early fall. The next will be work on the bathrooms and concession stand and new heating systems, for which the city has applied for Community Development Block Grants. Nuvallie said he expects the grants to be awarded on or about the latter part of July.

"I think the important thing to key in on is the transformation from a national mility barracks to a true public building is going to take time to do it right," he said. "We definitely need to do the office spaces on the second and third floor, get rid of all the old fencing and make it friendlier and prettier ... make it right for community use."

The building still won't be open to the public; it's being limited to use by the North Adams Basketball League, which has been utilizing the gym there for years. The gym also had been used by the Drury High School basketball team decades ago.

"The goal is to turn it into a community youth center," said Nuvallie. "The basketball league is perfect for that. We hope we can keep working without interrupting their season."

 

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