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State Rep. John Barrett III addresses the Board os Selectmen after Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito dialed in to announce the state was releasing $6.5 million for the Grelock Glen project.

State Commits Funds to Build Greylock Glen Outdoor Center

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The state will commit $6.5 million to fund the construction of the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center, and construction is slated to begin in August.
The Selectmen were in for a bit of a surprise Wednesday and instead of discussing the wastewater treatment plant at a scheduled workshop meeting, they got a call from the lieutenant governor's office.
"I received a call from what has been long-awaited in Adams from Gov. Charlie Baker and he was kind enough to inform me that the Baker-Polito administration is happy to fund the development of the Adams Outdoor Center," Town Administrator Jay Green said. "That will finally realize a long-waited 60-year dream."   
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who called into the workshop via Zoom, said she was happy to announce that the administration has committed funds that would mark the first development on the proposed 1,063-acre resort
"You are stewards of an amazing asset, and you have done a lot with the area," she said. "The trails the amenities have welcomed people from all over to see the beauty in the area of which you live and work. We know there is more we can do."
The story of the Greylock Glen's development goes back more than 50 years with many startups and letdowns along the way. 
Chairman John Duval actually pulled up a newspaper article from 1971 marking some of the first attempts to develop the Glen.
"It was a thought of many people who have never given up on this and what it means to the community," Duval said.
The Greylock Glen's recent history has had a tighter focus with the town more in control of a concept that includes a camping area, amphitheater, outdoor educational center, trail network, and lodge.
More recent developments include an overhauled trail network and completed designs of the outdoor center that would represent the first building on the complex. But the town has been in a holding pattern waiting for the state to release the construction funds needed to actually involve shovels in the shovel-ready project. 
State Rep. John Barrett III thanked the governor for realizing the project's importance for the community and its economy. He added that he felt it could be just as important as Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. 
"This is just so special. I can't even tell you. I get emotional talking about it," Barrett said. "We have gone through some difficult times ... and it was a guy named Charlie Baker ... who has his fingerprints all over Mass MoCA and the governor has his fingerprints on this project that is as important to the area as Mass MoCA."
Polito thanked Barrett, members of the select board, and town employees who never gave up on the project. She said assets such as the Glen were important during the pandemic and will continue to be.
"People needed to go places with their families for well-being to just connect with nature and to escape the challenges associated with COVID-19," she said. "To be able to be in a beautiful place right here in your back yard. It was a real sense of relief and a real sense of support for a lot of people."
The projected opening of the outdoor center when it was first announced was fall 2020. This was obviously delayed and not at all hastened by the pandemic.
Director of Special Projects and former Community Development Director Donna Cesan, who Green said was pulled out of retirement to continue to work on the project, said the entire effort was collaborative and she looked forward to continuing to work on it.
"We are very proud of this project, and we have worked very hard on this," she said. "It does my heart good to see that we are all working together and that you can see our vision for this property and what it can do for the town and for the region ... we have worked hard for this and we are grateful."
Polito said she was excited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony with the governor.
Barrett took a moment to thank past board members who never got to see the project move as far as it has.
He then looked to Cesan and told her there is still quite a lot of work to do.
"This is going to get harder and you are stewards of this project and will make sure it gets done," he said. "The best words I can leave you with is 'never sell yourself cheap.' You didn't throughout this project and I tell you, you are going to build a fine project in this community."


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Adams Conservation Commission Approves Greylock Glen Outdoor Center Plans

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Conservation Commission unanimously voted on Thursday to approve site plans for the Greylock Glen outdoor center, pushing the project past one of its final hurdles before construction begins.

"There is the additional work with the Army Corps that we'll have to do, but then we're hoping we can actually move towards construction," said Donna Cesan, the town's special projects coordinator.


The board provided its full approval for the 9,200 square-foot facility, with the only condition being the plans include new plantings near Gould Road once construction is complete. The facility, designed by Maclay Architects, will feature a restaurant, classrooms and exhibit space. 


Before Thursday's approval by the Conservation Commission, the project received approval from the Adams Planning Board in September. The plan was initially proposed in 2009 and received $6.5 million in state funding that was allocated for it. 


In addition to the site plans for the outdoor center, the board approved the plans for the 350,000-gallon water tank that will support the site. The tank will be away from the main outdoor center area off the Thunderbolt Trail. 


"That will serve not only the outdoor center building but the entire $50 million resort project," she said. "Which consists of a campground, eventually a lodge, conference center and we hope to perform arts Amphitheater in addition to the outdoor center."


Gene Crouch, senior environmental scientist for Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., said they will install power lines that connect the water tank to utility systems. He explained that sections of the power lines that go past the paved part of Thiel Road will be completely underground.  


"This is all going to be underground," he said. "So you won't have poles and things above ground through here where you don't have them now. From the paved [Thiel] road down, to get the power up from the power line going up to Greylock, this will be on poles, this will be overhead utility line."


Crouch said the wetland areas should be completely unaffected by the project, with the exception of an isolated wetland next to the water tank. He explained that construction workers will likely use this space for equipment. 


"They may not need it, but we want to give them the option to use that area for storage or lay down or something. Whatever they need," he said. "It isn't a big site. So the designer of this tank said he really needs something there to reserve for the contractor in case he needs it. So we've identified this as being altered, but we can restore it at the end." 


Selectmen Joe Nowak and Howard Rosenberg were present at the meeting. Nowak, a self-described environmentalist, said he was initially against the project when the planning began in 2009, but in the time since, he has come around and now fully supports it.  


"I'm all for it because I think the footprint matches it. And as a community, we're not going to see the big factories anymore," he said. "And the way that we can bring in interest to our community, both financially and outdoorsy, which I think is sorely needed within Berkshire County quickly. There's a lot of cultural venues museums, but there really isn't a center for the outdoors, and I think what that will do will make people coming to the area have another venue and prolong their state here." 


David Rhoads, chairman of the town's Board of Health, was present at the meeting to inquire about potential issues with the water supply and waste runoff. He said he is fascinated by the project and is looking forward to its completion.  


"I love the Glen," he said. "When it does impact us on the board of health, we will address it as needed. But at this point, I'm basically just looking at what is going on and where we could help, if necessary." 

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