Louison House Planning Youth Housing on Bracewell Avenue

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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The building, currently split into two units, would be converted into five studio-style apartments with a bathroom and kitchen and one two-bedroom apartment.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Housing support center Louison House hopes to turn 111 to 113 Bracewell Avenue into six apartments for unaccompanied youth. 


According to plans presented to the Planning Board Monday, the building, currently split into two units, would be converted into five studio-style apartments with a bathroom and kitchen and one two-bedroom apartment. The interior of the building will be redesigned, including replacing electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and life safety systems, to accommodate the new layout. 


"That would fit the need for a lot of our younger folk who just need a small space, but they need permanent housing," said Kathy Keeser, Executive Director of Louison House.


The structure, she explained, is currently vacant.


"They don't need to be out in the streets wandering," she said. "So we feel that would help with some of the homelessness needs, youth needs." 


The North Adams Housing Authority donated the property to Louison House in 2017.


Keeser said the organization has already mostly secured the needed funding for the project, and the group will continue to maintain the property once it's complete. 


"We actually have programmatic funding most likely coming down, because we don't want to charge a whole lot of rent. It'd be subsidized. Very low, affordability," she said. "... We're probably going to have a new piece of funding that will help pay. Basically, it'll pay for services and give us the money without having to charge high rent to be able to afford to pay for things." 


The board approved the application.


In other business: 


  • The board approved a special permit for Walmart, which plans to expand its current store at 1415 Curran Highway by 8,150 square feet. The extra space will aid the store's online pickup operations and will be at the northwest corner of the existing store.  


"This entire expansion area is solely to support the pickup operation, so it's not additional sales floor. People can't shop within that area," said James Cranston of Bohler Engineering. 


Cranston said 45 spaces should be relined and dedicated to pickup, making them slightly wider than other spaces in the lot. Additionally, the building's facade will also receive a slight upgrade along with the expansion work. 


The project has already received approval from the Conservation Commission. 


  • The board approved a special permit for ALC Addiction Treatment Services for internal repairs and repainting at 218 Ashland Street. The work will not alter the exterior of the structure. CEO Paul Supranowicz said ALC would simply be moving from its current location across the street, at 195 Ashland Street. 


"It's a little bit larger than the space we're currently leasing across the street," he said. "It's about another thousand square feet larger, which will give us a little bit more room.


Tags: louison house,   Walmart,   

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Adams COA, Town Seek Funds for Memorial Building Bathrooms

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is still waiting to transition its programming from the Visitor Center to the Memorial Building and is looking to the Community Development Department for help. 

The COA has been waiting for additional bathroom facilities to be completed for the facility, but the council and the town have so far been unable to obtain grant or other funding for the work.


COA Director Sarah Fontaine said they are working with Community Development to find funds for the bathrooms and other small improvements, including increased entrance accessibility, renovations to the former music room and fixed windows. 


"I had voiced my concern. It's a very extensive list, I don't expect that it will all be done before we transition over. The only need is the bathrooms," Fontaine said. 


At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said he looked into using Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. He said, however, that the Memorial Building is ineligible.


"The guidance we received from [the state Department of Housing and Community Development] has basically told us that the building is ineligible for funding because we already received funding in 2018," he said. "There has to be five years between the application for senior-center type projects. So based on that guidance, I don't believe Memorial School is eligible for funding."  


Fontaine also mentioned the auditorium in the building, which the town plans to renovate separately as a future capital project. 


"It would be nice as a senior center to have the auditorium available for guest lectures and other things like that," she said. 


Moving staff to the Memorial Building now while keeping programming at the Visitor Center, Fontaine said, is not an option. She noted that the Hoosac Valley Regional School District had previously expressed interest in using the second floor of the Visitor Center for its office space. 


"I was very firm in saying, logistically, it's hard for us to manage things just being upstairs. It's going to be very difficult if we're off site to try and manage programs downstairs," she said. 


In other business: 


  • The Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on its advisory board. It filled one of the vacancies on Wednesday, appointing Barbara Ziemba. Ziemba, an active participant in the COA, had already filled out the paperwork needed for her appointment. 


"I have attended many COA activities, volunteer, and am a member of the Friends of the Council on Aging and attend meetings. I have been interested in being a member of the Board of Directors for some time. Please consider my appointment to the board," Ziemba wrote, explaining in her paperwork why she was interested in the position.           


The group also discussed two other vacancies on the board and potential candidates to fill them. Two members have been unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons. 


  • The board voted to approve updated bylaws. The bylaws were revised and written primarily by Board Member Elizabeth Mach. 


"I just wanted to make a comment, or rather an appreciation, for Liz for taking this project on," Fontaine said. 


The new bylaws have a provision to allow honorary members. Fontaine said there are currently no honorary members. 


The board appointed Bruce Shepley as the board's chair to replace Barbara Lagowski, who filled one of the now vacant member seats. 

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