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Longtime public servant and Town Meeting Member Richard Kleiner is honored Tuesday with the dedication of the Town Report.
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A New York developer plans to renovate the former Adams Community Center to create high-end apartments. Town meeting voted to allow the sale of the property.
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From left, Robert Hinton, Eric Wohlleber and Kristen Hinton of CMV Construction Services, the company buying the community center, address Adams' annual town meeting.

Adams' Annual Town Meeting Approves Sale of Former Community Center

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Adams Town Meeting Member Craig Corrigan asks a question during Tuesday's meeting. Eighty-six of the 150 town meeting members attended, passing all articles on the warrant.
 
ADAMS, Mass. — Town meeting members Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the sale of the former community center to a Stephentown, N.Y., developer who hopes to create "luxury, high-end" homes on the site.
 
The meeting OK'd all the articles on the warrant, mostly without discussion.
 
But members asked for further discussion on four items, including Article 25, which ratified a $25,000 deal negotiated by the Board of Selectmen to sell the former community center and about 5.7 acres of land at 20 East St. to CMV Construction Services.
 
Meeting Member Judith Taylor of Howland Avenue questioned the sale price.
 
"I have a problem with only asking $25,000 for it," Taylor said. "The property is obviously valued at a lot more than that. Can I have an explanation?"
 
Board of Selectman Chair John Duval said the property, which is assessed at $350,000, has not generated interest from prospective buyers over the last decade until CMV came along.
 
"As long as I've been on the board, 11 years, I believe, at this point … the Board of Selectman has gone out with [requests for proposals] on at least three different occasions.
 
"The one response over the last 11 years was from the former youth center, which, when you think about it, that's really the Adams taxpayers. That interest faded when the Youth Center moved to Cheshire."
 
Duval said he agreed that a more than 5-acre property close to the center of town is attractive, but he said the board was encouraged that CMV's plan will provide more than 25 units of housing and preserve the historic structure that used to serve as a community center.
 
"They have a project that would keep the building," Duval said. "Most of us, as a board, thought we wouldn't be able to see that. They are going to renovate the current building. They're going to invest a lot of money in keeping that historical building and use that as apartments."
 
Robert Hinton, Kristen Hinton and Eric Wohlleber of CMV appeared before the meeting to take questions about the project.
 
"Our vision is luxury, high-end units," Robert Hinton said. "There will be eight units in Phase 1. Phase 2 is a ways out, but we would like to get upward of 20 additional units in Phase 2."
 
Phase 1 refers to the renovation of the current building. Phase 2 would involve new construction on the 5.7-acre property.
 
Hinton said that 20 percent of the units would be classified as affordable housing, assuming the developer is able to secure low-income housing tax credits from the commonwealth.
 
"Those units will be built the same as the other units," he said.
 
Article 25, titled "Land Disposition," passed with a smattering of "nos" in a voice vote that Moderator Myra Wilk declared a "clear majority."
 
Eighty-six out of a possible 150 members attended the meeting. Under Adams' representative town meeting form of government, residents vote for meeting members by precinct.
 
The members in attendance in the former Adams Memorial Middle School gymnasium generated just one question about the biggest-ticket article on the agenda, the town's operating budget of about $9.3 million for fiscal year 2023.
 
Taylor questioned a more than twofold increase in the line item for the former middle school itself, which cost taxpayers $57,300 in the fiscal year that ends June 30 but has a projected cost of $117,300 in FY23.
 
Town Administrator Jay Green explained that the town still covers heating for the former school, which is under contract to a different developer to create residential and commercial units.
 
Last winter, the building was heated to 55 degrees, the bare minimum required to preserve the structure, Green said. During renovation, it will be heated to code.
 
"The temporary boiler that is set up now to heat the classroom wing will go away," Green told the meeting. "It's possible [the cost] will drop. We need to get in here and use it for a full year, and that will pinpoint what the costs will be."
 
Article 5, the omnibus operating budget, was approved unanimously, as were the town's capital plan and assessment to the Hoosac Valley Regional School District, a $6.3 million expense that is up 2.6 percent from FY22.
 
In addition to the operating budget and community center sale, the only articles "held" by members for additional discussion were Article 4 and Article 23.
 
Article 23 established an enterprise fund for the town's sewer services.
 
Green told the meeting that without an enterprise fund, the town would be ineligible for state funding to repair the wastewater treatment plant.
 
Taylor asked whether creating an enterprise fund means that it is inevitable the town will implement a user fee for sewage.
 
Green said it's possible, but noted that the overwhelming majority of towns in the commonwealth that have public sewer systems fund them through user fees rather than through taxation, as Adams does.
 
He said the current system accounts for about $2.40 of the town's property tax rate – costs that would shift to a user fee if and when the town decides to implement one.
 
Article 23 passed with just one "no" vote from the 86 members in attendance.
 
Joseph Nowak of the Board of Selectman requested a hold on Article 4, which sets the stipends for elected officers.
 
Nowak said he had a problem with a decision in 2020 to trim the board members' stipend from $900 to $300.
 
"It is time consuming to serve in elected office," Nowak said. "We're having a hard time getting people to get on boards. A little bit of a stipend could help some of that."
 
Nowak did not offer an amendment to the article but said he just wanted to make the point. The article passed without an objection from the meeting members.

Tags: town meeting 2022,   

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Preliminary Sitework Begins at Greylock Glen

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — Preliminary sitework for the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center has started, and town officials hope to have an official groundbreaking ceremony later this month. 

 

Town Administrator Jay Green said some tree and utility work has already begun at the site, with concrete work coming during the next two weeks. He said contractors, engineers, and town staff frequently hold meetings to discuss the project. 

 

"There's a lot of work going on with it. If people drive up there, they can see it. Please stay away from construction site for safety, but work is ongoing and we'll hopefully stay on track for an opening sometime in fall '23," he said.

 

Green said the town should also be ready to submit requests for proposals to operate the outdoor center's cafe and campground by the end of the month. He said the official groundbreaking should also be near the end of August and had hoped there would be a time where both Gov. Charlie Baker and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal could attend. 

 

"Unfortunately, we weren't able to get both of their days to align, so we're probably going to choose a date last week of August for the ceremonial groundbreaking," he said. "We'll do some invitations and see if we can get people to show up, but we thought it was important to be celebrated for an hour, among ourselves, that we're finally under construction."

 

The town is the developer for the 54-acre glen, part of the Mount Greylock State Reservation, and the state has committed $7.3 million to the construction of the outdoor center. 

 

"It's important for people to know who are using the Glen walking trails, particularly the the gravel trail, that there are periodic disruptions to that as the site work is beginning to encroach slightly in that area," Green said. "It's not always closed. However, there's essentially supervisors, construction supervisors working in that area to alert walkers that there is some construction going on."

 

In other business, the Board of Selectmen once again heard about property concerns on the corner of Summer and Hoosac Streets. 

 

The concerns were brought forth by resident Lisa Mendel several meetings ago. She took issue with the number of unregistered cars and the property's condition, which she said had been in disrepair for some time. 

 

The property owners, Lisa and Francis Biros, said the issue had come up in the past and town officials told them that covering the unregistered vehicles would be enough to meet compliance with the bylaw. The bylaw allows for one unregistered vehicle, stating that any further unregistered vehicles must not be "within view" of any public way or abutting property. 

 

Police Chief K. Scott Kelley said he sent an officer to check and found two of the cars are unregistered. Mendel alleged there was a third unregistered vehicle, which the Biros' said should soon be removed from the property. 

 

The board read the bylaw, 125-17, aloud to help clarify the situation and debated the meaning of within view. Selectman Joseph Nowak suggested Town Counsel Edmund St. John III, who was not present, look at the bylaw so the town has clarity for future incidents.

 

Green said he feels the wording does not imply a simple cover meets compliance, but understood that the Biros' may have been told differently in the past. 

 

"I think Mr. Nowak is correct, in the sense that, it would be nice to have town counsel look at it," he said. 

 

Building Commissioner Gerald Garner said he would handle the situation further, noting is not an uncommon issue in Adams. 

 

"There are families here that have six vehicles in their driveway, because they have children that vehicles," he said. "So there's six vehicles that are registered in their driveway and then you'll see one unregistered vehicle on the property as well. So this is not an uncommon thing in the town, or anywhere." 

 

Selectman Howard Rosenberg said he empathizes with Mendel's complaint about the property and supports whatever action Garner deems necessary to uphold the bylaws. 

 

  • The board ratified the hire of seasonal Department of Public Works Employee David Shade. 

 

  • The board designated Kelley as the authority to assign officers to town polling places. A recent change made by the Legislature gave this authority to Boards of Selectmen. 

 

  • The board approved a one-day liquor license for St. John Paul Parish's Polka Festival. The event will be at the polka grounds on Sept. 11. 

 

  • The board approved a one-day liquor license for the Fall Run on Sept. 17.

 

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