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Gene Crouch, senior environmental scientist Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., presents the plans to the Conservation Commission on Thursday.

Adams Conservation Commission Approves Greylock Glen Outdoor Center Plans

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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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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Adams Dissolves Memorial Building Subcommittee; Renovations Near Completion

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — As renovations to the former Memorial School Building wrap up, the Board of Selectmen has decided to dissolve the subcommittee that worked toward reuse of the former middle school. 

 

"So over the many years after the board appointed this subcommittee, I believe it is time to put an end to this subcommittee," said Selectmen Chairman John Duval. 

 

The board voted to dissolve the subcommittee on Wednesday as the building moves toward a tentative re-opening for public use in the spring. Eight years after its formation, Duval said the subcommittee has finally completed the goal it set out to achieve. 

 

Once renovations are complete, the facility will become the center of operations for the Adams Council on Aging and several spaces will be opened for public use. Additionally, the Selectmen chose developer Wayland North late last year to develop parts of the facility into commercial and residential space.  

 

The Public Works and Facilities Subcommittee has taken the responsibility of determining the usage and policy surrounding public use of the building, which was  discussed at its meeting on Jan. 13. At that meeting, Town Administrator Jay Green said May is the target for re-opening but the exact time will depend on several factors, including moving and completing other aspects of the facility like bathrooms. 

 

"If we can get more work done first before anybody goes in there, I think, logistically, that's the better solution," he said. "But we're very early in those stages."

 

The fee structure and other usage guidelines for the building are still to be determined. Green said the gymnasium is nearly ready for use, barring the installation of covers for thermostats and wall fixtures. 

 

"Right now, that is the one primary thing that is keeping us from being able to really allow use of that gymnasium," he said. "They're on order. They're being paid attention to as soon as we can get those in and get those secured. The risk of damage to those and against substantial cost in money, I think is too much." 

 

Green said even when cover installs are complete, he thinks it would be best to not open the facility for public use until the weather is better. He said facilities staff needs time to adjust to maintaining the building, which would be hard when they have other town buildings to manage. 

 

"They haven't been going over to memorial at all during inclement weather because the building is not open to the public," he said. "So if we were to open that building, let's say those cages come in tomorrow and we put those up, I would still not necessarily recommend that we do that." 

 

Additionally, Green said the town has to complete the work necessary to secure parts of the building from public access. He said this is necessary to prevent those using the building from entering the private development spaces. 

 

"We have a developer who is negotiating with the town to develop it," he said. "And we want to make sure that we have the ability to keep anyone who is using the building out of those spaces. So that's ongoing, almost complete." 

 

The auditorium, Green said, is one area of the building that is not currently ready for public use. He said the use of the auditorium is pending an update on its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. 

 

"The auditorium does not have HVAC," he said. "It is not air-conditioned, it is not heated because the original heating plant for the building has been decommissioned. So that is a future capital project for the town to come up with a plan to provide the same air conditioning heat that the lobby, gymnasium and Council on Aging function spaces have." 

 

Green said coming up with use guidelines and a schedule for the building will be a significant priority once it is opened for public use again. He said the town needs to work with the COA and others using the building to keep the facility organized and ready for whoever needs to use it. 

 

"If they know the building is going to be used that evening for basketball practice or something, they're going to have to clean their stuff up," he said. "So it'll just require some day-to-day management."

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