NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Wigwam on the Western Summit of the Mohawk Trail is going to be rejuvenated with a shot of caffeine — and wine and cabins.
Owner and manager Wayne Gelinas appeared before the Planning Board on Monday with a presentation on how he will restore the closed gift shop, rebuild cabins and turn the residence into a wine and coffee bar. He anticipates the renovations and construction would be done in three phases.
"If we implement this, we believe people will come, we've already seen that actually. We had over 150 people up there today," he said. "It's really amazing the support from the area. "People could stay in our cabins, come to drink the coffee and sit on the deck along with people just traveling through."
Gelinas said work has already begun on clearing away overgrown brush. "It's really opened up the view," he said, showing an image of North Adams far below.
The gift shop would be seasonal and provide merchandise essentials and coffee for travelers; the side overlooking the valley would have new, larger windows placed and a deck. The main house, with five rooms, two bedrooms and one bathroom, would be renovated into a coffee and wine bar with a separate apartment unit.
The main coffee shop in the house would have a deck on the back would also offer baked goods, prepackaged sandwiches and snacks. Wine and cheese and suitable snacks would be available later in the evening.
Three existing cabins would be completely refurbished because of their poor condition and brought back to their original look and another two new cabins would be constructed later.
Gelinas envisions weekend season events, such as two coffee mornings with antique cars in October, as well as trail runs and snowshoeing and possibly a hot dog cart. He also hoped to upgrade the existing trail and link it into the nearby Berkshire Natural Resources Council trails.
Six log lean-to cabins would be built and two regular 12-by-16-square foot log cabins with wood stoves.
"The significant thing here is the lean-tos would be elevated off the ground at 8 feet with a deck in the back and suspension bridges between them," he said. "It's kind be really unique but I think they're really going to enjoy it."
Gelinas said the area under the lofted cabins would have a screened area with bathroom and shower area.
Prior plans for the developing the summit had run into septic issues that put them on hold, and the planner asked Gelinas how he was going to deal with that.
"I've got a meeting with the [Department of Environmental Protection] on Wednesday to go over some of our options," he said to questions about the septic. "Whether it be composting toilets, tying into our current system — there are restraints there. Just understanding what we have to do to accommodate that."
Gelinas purchased the 3.8-acre property as Wigwam Western Summit LLC from R&C Arrowhead LLC on Aug. 3 for $225,000. Arrowhead had attempted to reopen the gift shop, which was run for a while by Berkshire Emporium owner Keith Bona, but only lasted a season.
The Wigwam is about a 100 years old and built shortly after the opening of the Mohawk Trail. The popular tourist spot offered dining, sleeping cabins and a tower that could be climbed. Operated by Hans-Werner and Inna Gertjie for more than 30 years, it was sold in 2005 to Stephen and Karen Andrews. The Andrews sold the entire 37 acres to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, which then carved out the four-acre plot with the buildings. Main Street Hospitality, which runs the Porches and Red Lion Inn, had looked to develop the site but ran into issues and sold it a few years later.
The Planning Board approved the special permit for the project along with permits for a host of other new and relocating businesses.
Seven permits in all were approved with no debate and few questions for the Norad Mill on Roberts Drive. The former Excelsior mill was purchased by local developer David Moresi and has fast filled with tenants of all sizes. Moresi said he still has a few more applications coming before the board but the mill is largely at capacity.
Permits were approved for Studio North Dance Arts, Tax Solutions of the Berkshires Inc., Skin Envy, publishers Tupelo Press Inc. and Leapfolio LLC, Spin off Yarn Shop and Clinical Providers Staffing.
Also approved was an application by David York to open Camp Ground Coffees at 45 Main St., the former Sushi House. York said the shop would offer a variety of coffee drinks such as espressos and nitro brews but didn't anticipate offering any food at this point. The goal, he said, was to get something open for the fall. York also owns the Bowlin' on the River salad and coffee eatery around the corner on Marshall Street and the Museum of Dog on Canal Street.
An application by Black Loom LLC, the restaurant planned for the former church at 1288 Massachusetts Ave., was postponed at the request of the applicant.
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Berkshires Could See Mix of Rain/Snow Overnight
There's a winter weather advisory in effect overnight Friday in the Berkshires and a chance of up to 5 inches of snow.
The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., issued the advisory effective from midnight to 10 a.m. on Saturday with warnings of slippery roads in the morning.
The snowfall could reach up to an inch an hour for a brief period in the morning and will be accompanied by winds up to 40 mph. There's also a chance of sleet and freezing rain in the mix.
Temperatures could reach a high of 40 in the Hudson River valley on Saturday and Sunday will be windy, with some gusts possibly reaching 35-45 mph across eastern New York and the Berkshires. High temperatures Sunday ranging from the mid-20s/lower 30s for higher terrain, to the mid 30s to around 40 for valley areas. Lows Sunday night in the teens and 20s. Monday will be similar.