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The Cook Street park design incorporates elements of the historic coal and grain facility on the site.

Adams Begins Planning, Construction Projects This Fall

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The historic coal and grain building had been envisioned as central to the new pocket park but the cost of stabilizing and upgrading the structure was estimated at nearly a million dollars.  
ADAMS, Mass. — Several town projects are starting or about to start this fall. 
The Cook Street park began construction last week, a public information session on the reconstruction of Park Street is set for Wednesday at 5:30 at Town Hall and the town is participating in a regional digital equity planning process with its first meeting in October. 
"This is just a snapshot into some of the work that the Community Development Department does," Town Administrator Jay Green said at last week's Selectmen's meeting. "Not a lot of people realize how much that department touches different aspects or handles different aspects within the town  of Adams."
The Northern Berkshire digital equity plan is being sponsored by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, said Town Planner Kevin Rayner, and is funded through a grant that is covering the entire process, including consultant Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.
The communities participating include Cheshire, Florida, Lanesborough and North Adams.
"Digital equity basically leveling the playing field for people, giving opportunities to people who may be disadvantaged, who don't have access to technology, who don't have access to a stable internet connection, or may not know how to use technology," Rayner said. 
While this plan will focus on North County, the Broadband Institute is also kicking off a statewide "Internet for All" listening tour in Western Mass to provide feedback to state leaders. The first will be at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday with remote participation available at the North Adams Public Library and the Lenox Library.
Rayner said the local planning process is expected to identify and diagnose issues within the communities that are preventing people from accessing technology for information, communication, education, jobs and for day-to-day needs, such as banking and applications.
So far a steering committee has been formed and VHB has begun stakeholder meetings. The first general public meeting is set for Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. at the Visitors Center. 
"I'd like to say this is a great opportunity for the town of Adams to really look into what you to work on in terms of digital equity," Rayner said. "We're a rural community ... it's going be a very big step forward for Adams in our community growing into an environment that we find ourselves.
The town also has two construction projects under way this fall. 
"Probably a good 10 years Adams has worked in the areas adjacent to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail to develop some park areas, pocket park areas that would include the Sail Park, down by Depot and Pleasant Street, that would include the train station area on Hoosac Street," said Green. "Now we're working our way to the north and this area that we're focusing on is the Cook Street, former Hoosac Valley Coal & Grain property."
DF Lane Landscaping Inc. of Lenox was hired for the work that began last week and the park was designed by Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architects. It will have an off-leash dog area, event and picnic lawns, some historic relics and access to the rail trail.
A lot of the relics from the original coal and grain site are remaining so that we honor that sort of background," said program manager Rebecca Ferguson. "So a couple of tank saddles and some coal bunkers are going to stay in place and be sort of cut into interesting things."
The initial plans had included a small building that the town had hoped to reuse, she said, but after assessing it, the architects had recommended it be removed. However, the foundation of the building will be retained but covered.
"It may allow us in the future to achieve that vision of some type of bandshell, some type of a structure by doing that," she said. "So just because the surface building's gone doesn't necessarily mean it will always be that way. It allows us to be flexible."
The bulk of the work is expected to be completed by the end of the year with some final touches in the spring. 
Green said the larger 1902 building that contained the coal and grain elevators will be secured for the time being as there has been no formal decision on what to do with it. 
There is not enough funding at the present time to stabilize or renovate the structure and it is "not in imminent danger of falling down," he said. 
If the town can determine what use it expects for the structure, it could invest the next round of Community Development Block Grants into it.  
"If there's anybody out there that is interested in it and would like to partner with the town, we would love to hear from you. Particularly if there's dollars associated with that," he said. "We're very open minded in terms of partnerships and what we can do with it. Having it come down, I would say at this point is a last resort."
The town took the one-acre site for back taxes in 2015 and used a brownfields grant to clean up the property that dates back more than a century. 
The third project — the reconstruction of Park Street and sidewalk work on Columbia — is expected to also start this fall. 
Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said bids for the project should be opened on Sept. 28. 
"We're eager to get the project going and, with any luck, we'll be able to complete it this fall," he said. "We're going to work with contractors to kind of nail down the real construction schedule."
Officials said acknowledged there would be impacts for downtown businesses but noted that it should not be to the extent of the streetscape project in 2014. This project would concentrate on the 1,100 feet of roadway, not the sidewalks, on Park Street. 
Green said there were concerns about another frost/thaw cycle on the street and having to spend money repairing cracks and holes. 

Tags: broadband,   Park Street,   public parks,   road project,   

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Miss Adams Diner Auctioned Off for $80,000

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Personnel from the Sheriff's Department prepare to auction off the diner to pay delinquent debts. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Miss Adams Diner once again has changed hands, this time to its former owner's largest creditor. 
David Atwell purchased the property at a sheriff's auction on Wednesday afternoon for $80,000 against the only other bidder, Mark Lapier.
Peter Oleskiewicz had purchased the landmark eatery in September 2020 but didn't open it for more than a year. He closed it in March this year, saying it wasn't generating enough revenue to continue. It was seized June 8 to pay off creditors related to his other business, Desperados. 
According to documents in Northern Berkshire District Court, Oleskiewicz owes Atwell a total of $168,338.05 for the now closed Mexican restaurant in North Adams and the state of Massachusetts $59,062 in sales taxes. 
Bidders had to have $10,000 in cash or bank check to participate; the winner is required to pay the balance within 45 days or the sale would go to the next highest bidder.
Atwell said he had no immediate plans for the Park Street diner but wanted to assure he would get some return. 
"I had $170,000 worth of debt on it. So I wasn't gonna let it go for ... you know," he said with a shrug after the auction. "If we had gotten a bit closer, I would have let it go but I wasn't going to take a haircut at 50 percent. It's too much money."
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