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A photo of the Outdoor Center from October of 2023.

Adams Allocates Additional Funds To Progress Glen Outdoor Center Solar

Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The selectmen unanimously voted to transfer $25,000 from the capital reserve fund to pay for a geotechnical survey needed to install solar panels on the Greylock Glens Outdoor Center campus.
Town Administrator Jay Green told the selectmen Wednesday, Feb. 21, that although state funding has covered much of the actual construction of the Outdoor Center, there are still some ancillary costs the town has to sort out, including the installation of solar panels to make the building a net-zero-energy building. 
"Once the funding came through the state it was enough to put up four walls and a roof, but there are some other components of the building including the solar," Green said. "It had never been fully fleshed out and it was hard to predict when we would strike gold and get the funding."
In 2022, the state committed $6.5 million to fund the construction of the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center. Since then, the town has gathered additional funding for the $8.3 million project The outdoor center is expected to open later this year, and the camping facility within the next couple of years. The town is developing about 50 acres of the 1,000-acre glen as a recreational and educational hub.
Green said, working with the architects, it was agreed that it would be best to place solar panels on the to-be-built carports, and the town partnered with the company Soltec to explore implementation.
Greylock Glen Outdoor Center Director Michael Wynn said normally Soltec would completely fund the design, implementation, and operation of the solar carports. Ultimately, the town would purchase the solar electricity from Soltec once everything was up and running.
However, Soltec can only expend money after an agreement between the company and the town is passed by a town meeting, which would normally take place in the summer.
Wynn said this creates a timing issue which would delay the project into 2025, meaning the building would not open as a net zero building.
But, if the town was willing to fund the geotechnical survey, Soltec has agreed to place the project on its construction list. After the town meeting, the project would be ready to go, on schedule. 
He said the survey would cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
Green added that he rather not touch the money budgeted for building the actual Outdoor Center
"We crunched a lot of numbers and the Outdoor Center has a lot of moving parts. There are unknowns, the building is not done yet, and we really don't want to spend the $25,000 left in the budget," he said. "The intent was to keep those capital costs in the private sector."
Wynn said there are no immediate funds available within the town's budget. He said the town's only options would be to tap its reserve fund or the newly created capital reserve fund.
Green added that the capital reserve fund was created to protect the reserve fund and subsequently the stabilization fund. Unused reserve funds are transferred to stabilization at the end of the fiscal year. 
Also, Green said this is essentially what the account was created for. If there is a building or maintenance need in the town, the town would not have to break into its potential emergency funding. 
Green said town meeting initially budgeted $160,000 in the fund.  After one withdrawal to address an issue at the wastewater treatment plant, the balance is around $100,000.
He recommended allocating $25,000 from this account. If this amount isn't fully used it will return.
"$25,000 in the grand scheme of things, although I can't believe I am saying this, is not an extraordinary amount of money," he said. "And that is the purpose of that account."
Green added that there will be a chance to recoup some of these funds when he negotiates the power purchase agreement with Soltec. He added that although the cost would never fully be recouped it could possibly be offset.
The select board was in agreement and unanimously approved the recommendation. Although Green has the autonomy to use the fund when needed, he first wanted the select board's blessing.
Selectman Joe Nowak had some concerns about the general placement of the panels and other unknowns that would only truly be discovered after the survey took place. He also felt there was possible grant funding available.
However, understanding the importance of opening as a net zero building, he voted in the positive.
"We have gone too far not to make this building net zero like we wanted," he said. "Because that makes the building special."
Green added that he will likely come before the board again with more requests for the building.

Tags: Greylock Glen,   solar,   

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Adams Review Library, COA and Education Budgets

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen reviewed the public services, Hoosac Valley Regional School District and McCann Technical School budgets on Tuesday. 
The workshop at the Adams Free Library was the third of four joint sessions to review the proposed $19 million fiscal 2025 budget. The first workshop covered general government, executive, finance and technology budgets; the second public works, community development and the Greylock Glen. 
The Council on Aging and library budgets have increases for wages, equipment, postage and software. The Memorial Day budget is level-funded at $1,450 for flags and for additional expenses the American Legion might have; it had been used to hire bagpipers who are no longer available. 
The COA's budget is up 6.76 percent at $241,166. This covers three full-time positions including the director and five regular per diem van drivers and three backup drivers. Savoy also contracts with the town at a cost of $10,000 a year based on the number of residents using its services. 
Director Sarah Fontaine said the governor's budget has increased the amount of funding through the Executive Office of Elder Affairs from $12 to $14 per resident age 60 or older. 
"So for Adams, based on the 2020 Census data, says we have 2,442 people 60 and older in town," she said. "So that translates to $34,188 from the state to help manage Council on Aging programs and services."
The COA hired a part-time meal site coordinator using the state funds because it was getting difficult to manage the weekday lunches for several dozen attendees, said Fontaine. "And then as we need program supplies or to pay for certain services, we tap into this grant."
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