ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen approved a $40,000 reserve fund request to complete Americans with Disabilities Act compliance work at the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds.
The board held a brief meeting Wednesday night to address this one item to install a chairlift in the former town hall at 65 Park St.
"Over several years, the town has made several improvements to the former town hall," Town Administrator Jay Green said. "This includes window and door replacement, facade repairs, and the installation of a ramp in from of the building to make it accessible."
The town leases the building to the Registry of Deeds.
Green said the town allocated nearly $38,000 in 2011 to make some improvements. The Massachusetts Office on Disability also awarded the town an $80,000 grant to complete the entrance work, which also includes modifying the front doors.
Green said bids originally came in high so they tried to modify the project.
"We decided to delay the project ... and worked with the architect to reduce costs while simultaneously looking for additional funds," he said.
During the most recent request for proposals, bids still came in too high. Now the town is at a point where it needs to find the extra money or forget about the project.
"It is a complicated project, and we think the costs are going to continue to go up the longer we wait," Green said. "We need to make a decision at this point whether to abandon the project and return the grant money or proceed."
Becky Ferguson, with the Office of Community Development, said $40,000 should be enough to finish up the project and address any new incidentals that may arise.
The project is centered in the small stairway immediately inside the building. Half of the stairs would be removed to accommodate the chairlift and a second set of doors would be removed.
"It is a really tight space, and there is going to have to be some structural work to make it happen as well as some tricky electrical work," she said. "It seems like a small project, but it actually is pretty complicated."
She said they did look at other entrance options, including through the Police Station side of the building, but none were reasonable.
The Selectmen agreed the project simply had to be done.
Selectman Joseph Nowak did say he thought the cost was somewhat self-inflicted. He thought because the town started the process of making the building ADA accessible, they legally had to see it to completion.
"I think we put ourselves in a spot where we really just have to do the work," he said. "I think it really needs to go forward."
Green said the town has a healthy reserve account of $175,000.
The Finance Committee also has to approve the transfer.