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The Board of Selectmen heard an update on the progress being made at the outdoor center in the Greylock Glen on Wednesday.

Greylock Glen Outdoor Center 90% Complete

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Greylock Glen Outdoor Center is about 90 percent finished with an anticipated completion date in August. 
 
Matthew Sturz of owner's project manager Colliers International updated the Selectmen on the project's progress via Zoom on Wednesday. 
 
"We'll work with the town to determine exactly the logistics of that," he said in response to questions about the opening. "I think that there's certainly interest in getting the facility open as soon as it can open. But we do need to conclude the construction activities ... it's not federally advisable to have construction activity going on with the public."
 
The completion will depend on getting a certificate of occupancy for the 10,000-square foot facility.
 
The  $8.3 million project is running eight months behind the expected schedule, Sturz said, largely because of permitting with the state Department of Environmental Protection that required an extensive environmental review of endangered species, working with National Grid to determine how solar will be integrated into the project, and the need for a water system for both potable water and fire suppression. 
 
"Transformers and all manner of electrical switchgear is being significantly impacted by supply chain issues throughout the construction industry," said Sturz. "So coordinating those items up front took a little bit longer than anticipated."
 
A 350,000-gallon water tank is being constructed on the grounds to provide water with completion expected by July or August. 
 
The outdoor center will consist of retail and education wings, a food service area, space for support services and an outdoor pavilion. Once the construction phase ends, the focus will shift to mechanicals and interior, then final grading and site work. 
 
Selectman Joseph Nowak pressed the Sturz on the decision not to put solar panels on the roof. He had brought up the issue at several meetings, including a budget meeting, after the board voted to expend $25,000 for a geotechnical survey to support solar carports. 
 
"The solar portion of this, I think, was not originally intended to be on the building itself," Sturz said. "We did have a feasibility study that we commissioned with to determine how best to integrate solar into the project, which I think is what you're referring to, and concluded that sort of the among the most cost-effective solar implementations will be to put it on the building.
 
"With the project currently being under construction, trying to integrate multiple design efforts was kind of impractical. And that coupled with the difficulty of coordinating all of that information with the National Grid load letter in order to avoid delays because electrical transformers can literally take years."
 
Sturz said it was determined that because of the large solar farms coming online in Western Massachusetts, the grid didn't have the capacity to absorb the additional power. The town's special projects manager Donna Cesan added that the engineers found the roof was not suitable in size or design to handle the amount of solar panels needed to generate the power.  
 
"It just seemed the smart decision was to have standalone solar carports and those could be done later and not interfere with the progress and the schedule of the building," said Cesan. "If I've failed to inform the board properly, I apologize for that. But I think and I do feel very strongly it was the right decision." 
 
She thought inexpensive electricity could still be achieved for the building even with fewer panels on the carports because the building itself will be so energy efficient.
 
Sturz said the building was well on its way to achieving a net-zero goal even without the solar. A test of the building's envelope found it had "extremely tight tolerance in excess of what's known as the Passive House standard (for energy efficient construction)." .
 
"It gives us a significant part of the way towards achieving net zero," he said.
 
Selectman Richard Blanchard asked if the building is too tight and unable to breathe. Sturz said the shell of the building is very tight but the integrated ventilation system will ensure fresh air into the outdoor center.
 
The quality of workmanship under Souliere & Zepka Construction and its subcontractors has been "exceptional" with great attention to detail, he added. "We are seeing by virtue of the fact that the schedule itself has not slipped despite a couple of challenges that we've encountered.
 
"We're seeing strong teamwork between the general contractor and their subcontractors. So that's encouraging to see."
 
Colliers has a construction representative onsite reviewing the work and Sturz said they could see the quality of the work from the very beginning with the concrete being poured. More recently, the masonry subcontractor has been doing mockups of stone and mortar for the fireplace to ensure it met the aesthetic expectations of the design team. 
 
Town Administrator Jay Green took time to thank Sturz for his work on the outdoor center, noting that it would be his last project for Colliers as he is leaving the firm. Sturz has also been the manager for the Greylock School project in North Adams. 
 
In other business, the board also confirmed the hiring of Robert Wojcik as the new building and grounds superintendent for the glen. Wojcik has 37 years with the town's Department of Public Works, beginning as a seasonal laborer in 1987 and is currently a working foreman. He will start at a salary of $74,000.
 
Green said Wojcik's institutional knowledge and skill will be continue to be of benefit to the town. "The hiring panel had no reservation that Mr. Wojcik is up for the challenge and will make the town of Adams proud," he said.
 
"Thank you for the opportunity," said Wojcik. "I won't let you down."
 
Nowak raised questions about the hiring process, saying he was uncomfortable with Wojcik's bosses doing the interviews. 
 
"But I particularly don't like the process when your immediate boss is across from you, and our town administrator that you work for, and it just seems like some of the jobs are like a coronation, at least in my opinion," said Nowak. "I've known you for a long time but I also have to look out for the town when we give interviews that don't seem appropriate to me to have, you know, your immediate boss, town administrator and, you know, Mike interviewing ... then the salary bothered me a little bit but Jay explained it to us."
 
It was also noted that Wojcik's daughter is the town's finance director. Green said the director had been "isolated" from conversations about the hiring and that the process had complied with the regulations regarding relationships. 
 
Out of 12 applicants, five were interviewed and three were selected as finalists. Glen Executive Director Michael Wynn and DPW Operations Manager Timothy Cota did the initial screening. 
 
The town normally posts jobs internally first but had not in this case. If it had, and Wojcik had applied then, he would have received first consideration, Green said, and that all three finalists for the post were related somehow to someone within town government.
 
"We are a small community and I will also indicate that I've had, under my own volition and decision to do so, I had a conversation with our labor attorney about the process we followed and he had no exception with it."
 
Correction: Selectman Joseph Nowak's concerns were about who did the interviewing for the glen superintendent's position, not his relationships. This has been corrected in the article. iBerkshires regrets the error. 

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Adams Raises Transfer Station Permits

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen on Wednesday raised transfer station permit fee for the coming fiscal year to cover a gap in operations. 
 
The board set a fee of $125 for a permit that include three sheets, or 24, bag tags. Replacement and additional permits will remain at $10 and bag tags at $1.60, or $8 for a sheet of five. 
 
The permit went from $75 to $100 last year.
 
"The driving factor, of course, for the transfer station is the cost of the removal of the materials. That would be the municipal solid waste, or MSW, commingled with your glasses, your plastics and your papers," said Town Administrator Jay Green. 
 
With estimates for May and June, the projected total cost is $81,000, of which $71,000 is removal and the balance labor. 
 
This past year saw 564 permits sold  raising $56,400, replacement and additional permits brought in $890, and 7,690 bag tags $12,304. 
 
That raised in total $69,500, some $11,000 short. 
 
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