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The Community Center, seen in this file photo, needs a great deal of work. Officials are considering whether to simply sell the property rather than request proposals for reuse.

Adams Selectmen Discuss Offloading Community Center

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Selectmen discuss the future of the Community Center. 
ADAMS, Mass. — The Community Center on East Street needs an estimated $1 million renovations and may end up demolished. 
 
The Selectmen last week discussed the future of the century-old structure and may release another request for proposals that could allow demolition. 
 
"I think there is a two-prong conversation here: the concerns about offering the youth services to the community ... as well as what do we envision that property for," Town Administrator Jay Green said. "It is a beautiful piece of property."
 
Youth Center Inc. plans to leave its longtime home at 20 East St. and move to the Cheshire school building. Plans are to move out of the decrepit building on Sept. 30. The Youth Center signed a contract with Cheshire earlier this year.
 
Community Development Director Donna Cesan said the building is near the downtown yet fairly secluded. She said she always thought it would be optimal for housing. The structure was built in 1920 as a dormitory for the Sisters of Providence, who operated a now long-gone sanatorium next door.
 
Housing was the idea in 2015 when the town last released a request for proposals, however, the only interested party was the Youth Center, which had also been eyeing the Memorial Building.
 
Developers did look at the property in 2015 and Cesan attributed their hesitancy to the building itself. She said the frame structure is built on a crawl space. The lack of basement has allowed moisture to wreak havoc on the former dormitory, warping floors and causing other damages. 
 
"I think the property has a lot of value," she said. "I doubt the building does. I think the building is likely a negative."
 
She said the building and property were assessed in 2014 at $200,000.
 
Green affirmed this and noted he went on a recent tour of the building with the building inspector who noted it would need likely over $1 million in renovations.
 
"The building is definitely tired. It is solid and won't collapse tomorrow but it is tired," Green said. 
 
Green said the building would need new windows, paint, and carpeting. The walls and floor would also need a lot of work. He added there is an elevator shaft in the building that is inoperable. He said they did not know if there was actually anything in it.
 
He said they did not look at the boiler.
 
Selectman Joseph Nowak asked if the agreement with Cheshire was set in stone and felt the town should offer up the building to the Youth Center for free. He said this would both keep the building in use and keep the Youth Center in Adams.
 
"I think we need to sit down to see if they are amenable because Cheshire Elementary is OK but they will lose a lot of amenities that the kids are getting now," he said. "It is sad to see there are a lot of kids in the program ... and I think a lot of kids will not participate." 
 
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt said she thought the agreement was final and Adams children would be bused to Cheshire by the Youth Center. 
 
She said what she thought was up for consideration was the Youth Center Summer Program that is typically held at Russell Field.
 
Selectman Richard Blanchard agreed with Nowak's sentiment and, too, liked the idea of the Youth Center being in town but said if Adams cannot afford to upkeep the property it is unlikely the Youth Center will be able to.
 
The selectmen brainstormed other options for the Youth Center and included the armory, the Memorial Building and the old dance studio on the corner of Commercial and Liberty Street. All of which had potential deal-breaking issues in varying degrees.
 
The conversation then moved back to the East Street property itself and Cesan asked the Selectmen if they would like to see another RFP or a flat-out sale.
 
With an RFP, Cesan said, the town does have a say in what the property is used for. The 2015 RFP criteria included: uses must be compatible and complementary to the surrounding neighborhood, enhance the quality of the property, result in new employment opportunities, and generate new tax revenue.
 
This criteria obviously did not allow a possible developer to take a bulldozer to the property but Cesan asked the Selectmen if they would consider demolition.
 
The Selectmen did not commit to an RFP or any criteria that would be included but Nowak said he could not imagine a developer coming in to restore the building.  
 
"All the development I have seen in be county has been brick and mortar mill types," he said. "I don't see who would want a building with no cellar and I hate to say it, in this economy we have in town, who is going to come in and fix it until we get some wheels on the rail?" 
 
The board did conclude that the only way to make the property attractive may be to allow for the demolition of the historic building.
 
"I hate to see that building get destroyed that is for sure," Selectman James Bush said. "It is beautiful building it is just so run down. Twenty years ago it was rundown."
 
Green said to be sure he would reach out to Cheshire to see if the Youth Center move was a done deal.

Tags: community center,   historical building,   RFP,   

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Adams Holding Informal Information Session on 40R Smart Growth

ADAMS, Mass. — Residents wishing to learn more about the town's consideration of a Smart Growth Overlay District are invited to a public information session on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
 
The session will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Visitors Center at 3 Hoosac St. 
 
The purpose of the informal session will be to provide information to the community at large about the town's proposed adoption of the Smart Growth Overlay District, also known as Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40R. 
 
The Planning Board has proposed that the town's zoning bylaws be amended to establish a Smart Growth Overlay District. 
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