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The Selectmen voice support for Cumberland Farms plans for a convenience store on Commercial Street, hoping a compromise can be reached with the neighbors.

Adams Selectmen Want to Find Compromise With Cumberland Farms

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen say they will continue to support the proposed Cumberland Farms and hope a compromise can be found.
 
At the end of Wednesday night's meeting, Chairman John Duval said the board supports the Commercial Street development because it will represent new growth.
 
"When they came to this board we, as a board, supported it. The town of Adams needs growth and growth comes in several different ways," he said. "This impacts our taxes and we will continue to support this and meet with them. We will find a resolution."
 
Cumberland Farms withdrew its application last week with the Zoning Board of Appeals to build a convenience store/gas station at 95 Commercial St. The company had planned to demolish Al's Service Center at 95 Commercial St. and two other structures that currently sit on the property. 
 
The project met steadfast and vocal opposition from abutters who voiced their concerns over a series of public hearings that ultimately ended with Cumberland Farms withdrawing its application. Company representatives say they will schedule a community meeting to try to work out a solution with the neighborhood.
 
Cumberland Farms has a smaller convenience store farther north on Commercial Street that was built in the 1980s. There are a number of commercial activities on the street, which is Route 8, including two restaurants, a redemption center, liquor store, pub and Aladco. The side streets, however, are heavily residential. 
 
Duval said he understood the concerns but felt a community meeting could yield a compromise of some kind.
 
"I do not dismiss the neighborhood’s concerns and I am sure we would all have the same concerns we just need to work together and try to figure this out," he said. "This is important for this community to grow."
 
Duval reminisced about past projects such as the roundabout and the Berkshire Scenic Railway that at first were met with opposition but eventually have become generally accepted as good things for the community
 
Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said the Commercial Street corridor is a focus area and that the town needs to determine what kind of commercial activity it wants to allow.
 
"I am not talking about making it the Route 8 to the north because it is a very neighborhood focused area, but we should still be able to accommodate businesses that have the right character and are the right scale," she said. "Our zoning does not support that now and I think this is something we need to pursue."
 
Duval added that next week there will be a public meeting with the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Superintendent John Vosburgh and the School Committee to go over the district's statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority statement of Interest. 
 
"I urge residents to attend this meeting and express in the positive or in the negative their views," he said. 
 
The district regularly makes these submissions and the application includes both renovating Hoosac Valley Elementary School and building a new elementary school on the Hoosac Valley High School campus.
 
Duval did ask that residents stay informed and noted a new building may not necessarily reverse enrollment decline in the district.
 
"When we went through the process we built a brand-new school with the best technology and everything was new and the students still all left so when you see that … in the future just remember that was the same stance we made when we did the Hoosac Valley renovation project," he said. "So please educate yourselves and I will be listening to the parents and the townspeople to hear which way the community wants to go."
 
In other business, Cesan said the town is awaiting word from its architect before awarding a bid for the Town Hall roof repair project.
 
Silktown Roofing came in as the high bidder with a base bid of $209,000. Titan Roofing came in as the low bidder with a base bid of $163,000.
 
Cesan recommended going with Titan.
 
"We have worked with them in the past. They did the Memorial Building roof," she said. "We will send a notice out to the contractor and try to get that underway very quickly because winter is coming."
 
Cesan said the town should be able to afford an alternate bid of $47,000 to fix the clock tower. 

Tags: ACRSD,   cumberland farms,   

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Three Berkshires Women Named 'Unsung Heroines'


Liz Mitchell and state Rep. John Barrett III at Tuesday's 2019 Unsung Heroine ceremony at the State House. 

BOSTON — Three Berkshires women were named Unsung Heroines for 2019 during a State House ceremony on Tuesday.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds nominated Donna Cesan for this recognition because of her dedication to community, having served as Community Development Director and interim Town Administrator for the town of Adams for 19 years.

Elizabeth "Liz" Mitchell, a North Adams resident and advocate for domestic violance victims with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, was nominated by state Rep. John Barrett III and Marie Richardson of Pittsfield, a caseworker in the Pittsfield Public Schools, was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

"Donna has selflessly given countless hours of her time to ensure Adams is moving in the right direction," said Hinds. "She is well-respected in her hometown of Lanesborough, and the town of Adams is well-served by her. She is absolutely an Unsung Heroine for her dedication to our region and her professionalism, which is effortlessly showcased in all of her projects."

Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually celebrates "unsung heroines" who don't always make the news, but who make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

Hinds said Cesan has dedicated her career to public service. As the director of community development, she has spearheaded economic development projects with big impact, like the construction of a platform for the Adams terminus of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service, the renovation of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot and implementing the community's vision for the Greylock Glen. Since 2014, she has been asked twice by the Board of Selectmen to also serve as interim town administrator, managing every aspect of municipal government for months, while also promoting community development initiatives in town.
 
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