ADAMS, Mass. — Charles Ransford has purchased the vacant Commercial Street gas station next to Hoosac Valley Elementary.
Selectman Joseph Nowak shared his discontent about the recent purchase of the former O'Connell's gas station at the close of Selectmen's meeting on Wednesday. He wanted the town to purchase to the property to expand congested parking at Hoosac Valley Elementary School.
"I am very disappointed that we didn't get that parcel," Nowak said. "It was sorely needed and now we have a person that owns it that is just not going to do anything with it … we lost an important parcel for the school."
According to Massachusetts Land Records, Ransford purchased the former Mobile Station from O'Connell Oil Associates Inc. on Jan. 5 for $30,000. The property was one of five Berkshire gas stations O'Connell put up for auction in spring 2016 as it sought to exit that part of its business. But the station at 26 Commercial and two others, including one already demolished in North Adams, did not sell.
At first, Nowak was hesitant to mention Ransford's name, but later attributed him to the purchase.
"It's been sold to somebody that isn't a great steward of his property and is well known in this community," Nowak said.
Ransford has a large portfolio of properties in North Berkshire and a mixed record of maintaining them. Although it is unknown if Ransford has any plans for the gas station property, he already has a reputation in town.
He was given 30 days to demolish it because it was a danger to the public, however, he did not oblige, and housing court gave the town permission to demolish the former automotive garage,
The demolition will be on the town's dime, but a lien will be placed on the property.
Parking at the landlocked school has always been an issue and it becomes especially hectic before school starts and when it closes. Parking often spills into the adjacent McDonald's parking lot and Nowak noted the parcel is often used for students drop off and pick up as it stands now.
Nowak said he mentioned that the property was for sale months ago to then Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco, however, no action was taken. Nowak noted that there was also hesitancy on the board itself with some members concerned with possible remediation costs.
He said he had spoken with O'Connell Oil Associates and the company had offered to gift the parcel to the town or transfer the property for $20,000 and remove the tanks.
Nowak said he was in contact with Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan who was interested in attaining the property, but it was too late.
"I had Donna's ear and she was very interested in purchasing the property and I went humbly back to …the man who owns it. He is a great philanthropist," Nowak said. "The last time I spoke to him, he said the sale was pending but if it fell through he would give it to us."
Selectman John Duval agreed with Nowak that the town should have obtained the property and if the sale does not go through the town should act.
However, Nowak said it seems to be too late.
"We have lost it and I am very disappointed," Nowak said. "It went down to the deed and we lost a good parcel and I am really sorry for us."
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It’s to bad that before the four Adams selectmen voted enmass to close the Cheshire school, that the difficult parking situation at Plunkett school would have been given more consideration. The former Cheshire school has loads of parking space, without having to “ jockey “ for position!
ADAMS, Mass. — The Cemetery Commission will consider a five-year capital improvement plan and feasibility study to inform the possible expansion of Bellevue Cemetery.
Cemetery Commissioner Bruce Shepley asked the commission last week to consider future projects to include in a five-year capital improvement plan for the town’s cemeteries.
"I am asking you to put thinking caps on and in the next month come with what you would like to see done at the cemeteries," he said. "Bottom line is what are your thoughts about capital improvements."
Shepley said the commission did produce an improvement plan some years ago, however, he has yet to find it. He added that the Cemetery Department still has funds it can expend to improve the cemeteries but the commissioners would need to figure out how low they can draw this fund.
Chairman Peter Hoyt was cautious and noted the town just implemented Tobacco 21. He said it may be worth waiting to see how this has impacted youth smoking before taking any additional action.
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