Greylock Glen Plan Gets Round of Applause
ADAMS, Mass. — Wednesday's presentation on the design for the long-gestating Greylock Glen brought applause and also concerns over traffic, costs and benefits.
Nearly three dozen people, including several selectmen, gathered on the second floor of the Adams Free Library for a slide presentation by representatives from Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., designer for the footprint of the so-called core facilities at the foot of Mount Greylock.
"There should be an indication of how many jobs will be created," said Joseph Nowak. "That's what people are worried about."
Nowak, a supporter of the project, also expressed concerns about the amount of traffic over West Road to the site, others about the cost to the town and environmental impacts, and how townspeople and local organizations will be able to utilize the facilities.
A lot of the questions just can't be answered yet, said Community Development Director Donna E. Cesan, because the town has not reached that level of detail in the planning process.
What it does have is a site design and guidelines to begin developing requests for proposals for the various elements that will go into the year-round recreational center. First, the plan will have to pass muster under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The town hasn't filed with MEPA, but it and its partners and designers have been working to anticipate MEPA questions to ensure a smooth review.
From there, local permitting will begin before any private developers are signed on to construct and manage the planned educational center, amphitheater, campground and Thunderbolt Lodge. An art garden will also be part of the plan with permanent and temporary pieces on exhibit.
"We are talking, though, on how we put that developers' package together, such as having a Web site," she said. "Because I've put a date on [the MEPA filing] before I'm not going to tonight ... I want it to be a very complex and thorough package."
Steven Derdiarian of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. said the elements of the glen development have been whittled down to 29 acres that will be altered from the original 50-acre target (the glen totals 1,063 acres). The goal has been to "tread lightly," said Derderian, and "to knit the plan into the existing landscape so we have an appropriate level of development, not overdevelopment."
The four-season recreational and educational center will include an array of sustainable practices, including local materials, geothermal heating, photovoltaic cells, natural products and following LEED standards. The campground has been designed to offer tent sites, rustic cabins and eco-cabins, some of which will be usable during the winter.
"Adams is poised to become a key player in the Berkshire tourism economy," said Derderian, instead of being the drive-through to other destinations. "Now it will become a destination. ... It's not just designed to draw outsiders to Adams, this is designed as a wonderful place for the people of Adams."
Some wondered how successful the glen would be in attracting developers in the current economic climate.
"We're in a bad cycle but we'll come out of it ... even private developers who aren't building now are making plans," said Leo Roy, director of VHB's Massachusetts Environmental Services Group. "What's important is to have a plan for the community to get behind.
"There's a lot of people in town who think this will never happen," continued the former state undersecretary for environmental affairs, referring to the past proposals that went nowhere. "What Donna has been doing is showing progress ... much better to finding developer if you can show momentum.
"This is your proposal — we're not here to sell you anything tonight."
The town was named developer of the project two years ago, working in partnership with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and collaborating with the Appalachian Club, Mass Audubon, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Some $3 million in MassDevelopment funds is being matched by the town, which is pursuing grants and other funding sources.
The state and town are spending in concert; for example, the town paid for the site design while DCR paid for the trail system planning by Dodson & Associates. A public hearing on the trail system was held several weeks ago.
"Our town needs revitalization," said Nowak. "All the past plans were just to grandiose — they didn't make a lot of sense ... this seems to make sense ... I think it will bring people into our town."
The presentation is available for review at the library.
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