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The Greylock Glen Outdoor Center is expected to open this summer and the Selectmen on Wednesday signed a 25-year agreement with Shared Estates to develop camping and cabins at the site.

Adams Selectmen Sign 25-Year Agreement With Campground Developer

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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An initial plan for the camping area that could include cabins, tents and Airstreams.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town of Adams has signed a 25-year development agreement with Shared Estates Asset Fund to construct a camping venue at the Greylock Glen. 
The company will pay the town at least $74,400 annually; up to 7 percent of its gross profits; and real estate and property taxes. 
The 3-1 vote by the Selectmen came after nearly three hours of reviewing the agreement in executive session with attorneys on Wednesday night. Selectman Joseph Novak vote no; Selectman Richard Blanchard was absent. 
The agreement lays out a roadmap as Shared Estates begins the design and permitting process with a projected construction date in 2025. The company was selected in December based on its response to the town's requests for proposal, part of its development of 50 acres in the 1,063-acre Greylock Glen.  
"The development agreement lays out what Shared Estates essentially has to do over the next 10 months," said Town Administrator Jay Green on Thursday. "There is nothing last night that was approved in terms of design. Everything that had been discussed back in the December, January, February, March range last year, is still on the table."
Tentatively titled "Greylock Glen Ecovillage," the project is projected to bring in $3.5 million to $6 million a year and will provide $8 million or more in revenue directly to the town over 25 years. The year-round facility is expected to bring hundreds of people to Adams on a regular basis, based on Shared Estates' bookings.
Shared Estates has specialized in renovating and upscaling existing real estate for the luxury rental and vacation market in the Berkshires using crowdsourced funding. It most recently invested $1.5 million into the historic Kemble Inn in Lenox. 
The campground is expected to have a mix of modern cabins, Airstreams and tent sites for a capacity of 250. While on the same footprint developed in the glen master plan some years ago, the solar-powered, environmentally conscious "ecovillage" will have half as many sites at 72 with more clustering to conserve greenery. This general plan was presented to the town and residents in December and March.
The Selectmen will have final approval of design before the project goes before the Planning Board and Conservation Commission. 
"If you look back at their projection that they had talked about last December and last March, the town could earn upwards of half a million dollars [annually] if they perform well, if their occupancy is in the 90th percentile," said Green. "The rent, we'll have a [consumer price index] escalation and a fair market value reset throughout the duration of the of the lease."
He said the agreement document sets out guardrails to keep the project moving forward. It has provisions for ending the agreement but also for having performance bonding in place so that if the company backs out or fails during construction, the town will take over as the contractor. 
Green, on Wednesday night, had noted the town's attorney Jay Sabin and the Community Development Office had been negotiating for six months on an agreement. He responded to questions of why the talks weren't happening in open session. 
"This is not necessarily out of the ordinary. It is out of the ordinary for the town of Adams," he said. "Doing this in executive session is not a way to avoid public scrutiny ... This is a way to protect the legal interests of the town of Adams."
On Thursday, Green confirmed that a reference made at the meeting was about the Memorial Building, for which an RFP has again been issued. In that case, the selected developer had not been able to raise the capital needed but without a hard deadline in place, months went by before the town could move on. 
That won't be the case with Shared Estates.
"They have kind of set deadlines that are that are going to keep them on path, on track in order to fund raise, in order to submit design, submit engineering documents and get through the permitting process," said Green. "So the project doesn't linger. It doesn't get caught up in a myriad of bureaucracy. It also forces the town that when we get those documents, we have to act on them."
The Greylock Glen has gone through private and public development limbo for decades. The state chose the town as the developer in 2006 after pulling the plug on a failed private endeavor. 
It's taken this long to bring a number of complicated pieces into play that will see at least part of the vision laid out 17 years ago come to fruition. 
The Outdoor Center is expected to be completed by spring but the water tank for fire suppression may not be ready until July. An RFP is out for the restaurant/cafe operator and with the deadline extended into February. 
On Wednesday night, the Selectmen voted to accept Massachusetts Audubon as the educational programmer and Green said an executive director — funded through this year's budget — will be named at the next Selectmen's meeting. 
"2024 is going to be a very exciting year for big advancements at the Greylock Glen," said Green. 

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Weekend Outlook: Spring Celebrations, Clean-ups, and More

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
This spring weekend, there are a variety of events in and around the Berkshires, including Spring Celebrations, music, cleanups, and more.  
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The featured event is "Where's Winston?" a spring scavenger hunt for images of the Pittsfield Police Department's comfort dog, Officer Winston, at a dozen downtown locations. More information here
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