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The Adams Fire District holds its annual meeting on Tuesday evening.

Adams Fire District May Expand to Entire Town

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Voters approved all 19 articles within a half-hour with little to no discussion. 

Updated (5-11-2023 at 9 a.m.) with clarifications from the Prudential Committee Chairman Thomas Satko 

Satko said the vote taken Tuesday only ratified the special legislation needed to expand the district.
That legislation has already been filed.
He said district membership voting to expand the district was only an early step in the process that will certainly include input from members of the public potentially coming into the district.
"We want to do this the right way, and we want townspeople to be part of this decision," he said.
Satko said the district council is working with town council to organize a community meeting to discuss the matter that will be followed by a townwide vote.
He did not have an exact timeline for when these meetings would occur and noted many details still needed to be worked out.


ADAMS, Mass.— The Fire District membership voted to increase the district's size to the town's limits at the annual meeting bringing a new fire protection and street lighting charge to new members.

The Fire District flew through 19 articles in about a half-hour Tuesday and voted, without question, to expand the district so that all those receiving fire protection outside of the district's current overlay would now have to pay a fee.
"We've been asked by the members of the district. They would like to see those outside the district pay for fire protection," Prudential Committee Chairman Thomas Satko said after the meeting about Article 17. "So we're doing what our members of the district asked us to do."
Currently, the district is focused in the downtown area of Adams, and there are about 168 houses outside of the district. Although firefighters still respond to fires outside of the district, these residents do not pay any fees to the district.
Now, all property owners will be charged a semi-annual fee that, at this moment in time, is 91 cents per $1,000 valuation. The district also runs the Water Department but properties not on the water lines will not be charged for water. 
The town is completely separate from the fire district, and Town Administrator Jay Green said the expansion can be done unilaterally from the town.
"There are specific provisions in Massachusetts General Law for a Fire District to expand," Green said. "It is the responsibility of the Adams Fire District to ensure that they are complying with any legal requirements and to communicate to the community the reasons why the Fire District wishes to expand so a healthy and informative conversation can take place in the proper venues."
Green added that without a fire district, fire protection services would fall to the town.
"Generally speaking, there are no ramifications to the operation of local town government. However, I think it is important for perspective and discussion that if there was no Fire District, local town government would be responsible for structural fire protection, and those costs would be covered by real estate tax as part of the town budget rather than a separate tax," Green said. "Therefore, it is worth asking the question, what is the value to the community in having a separate Fire District?"
The entire meeting passed with few questions or opposition with only one single no vote from the dozens of district members who attended the meeting held in the fire station.
Article 6 represented the proposed operating budget and asked members to appropriate $596,905.90 from district taxes.
Article 8 authorized the district to raise and appropriate $1,570,659.63 from rates for the Enterprise Fund and to pay loans maturing during the upcoming fiscal year 
Article 5 set the salaries of district employees totaling $24,750.92.
Article 7 will allocate $5,000 from district taxes for the Adams support fee.
Article 9 allowed the district to place $40,000 of surplus revenue into the reserve fund and Article 10 drew $15,500 from the surplus revenue to purchase fire safety equipment. This amount will be fully reimbursed by the state.
Article 11 raises $100,000 from rates for the radio read meter replacement and Article 12 raises $10,000 from rates for the Cheshire PILOT Invoice.
Satko clarified that Cheshire is billing the district for the land it uses in Cheshire. This includes the well fields and land on West Road and Orchard Street.
Article 13 will appropriate from available funds $16,000 for an engineering review of the Greylock Glen and Article 14 will allow the district to pull $50,000 from the surplus account to go toward the Lead Service Line Inventory. This money will be reimbursed by the state. 
Article 15 pulls $50,000 from stabilization to put toward a down payment on a new fire engine.
The same day, the Fire district held its election in which 72 voters cast ballots.
Richard Kleiner will return to the Prudential Committee with 55 votes and John Pansecchi will remain chief engineer with 56 votes.
David Lennon was voted in as first assistant engineer with 69 votes, Edward Capeless as second assistant engineer with 69 votes, Mark Therrien as third assistant engineer with 65 votes, and Dylan Grimes as fourth assistant engineer with 67 votes. 

Tags: annual meeting,   fire district,   fiscal 2024,   

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Mass Audubon Sole Respondent for Greylock Glen Programmer

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Mass Audubon was the sole respondent to the town's request for proposals to provide "place-based environmental education" at the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center.
The Lincoln-based non-profit returned an in-depth plan with a six-year project timeline. Mass Audubon was among the collaborators with the town in the early planning process for the 1,063-acre glen, of which about 50 acres is being developed. 
It notes that the programs envisioned for the center — lectures, summit hikes, school field trips, bird walks and the like — would be tailored to demand as time goes by.
"[O]ur staff are trained to utilize a community engagement approach to understand from residents and other key constituents what they hope to learn and do where we operate environmental education programming," Mass Audubon's letter of intent reads, in part. "This data helps to inform how we design and implement program portfolios that meet our desired outcomes."
Town Administrator Jay Green said Friday that town staff will review the proposal before a likely presentation from Mass Audubon to the Board of Selectmen, which will decide whether to enter into lease negotiations with the non-profit.
Mass Audubon's proposed lease agreement calls for a zero dollar annual payment to the town for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2024.
A letter signed by Mass Audubon President David O'Neill explained that the non-profit deviated from the town's request for a 10-year lease because of unknowns related to the Glen development project.
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