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Adams, Mass. Preparing For Susan B. Anthony Dedication In June

A blue sign reads" ADAMS" in front of green leafy trees and a blue sky with white puffy clouds
Josh Landes

After years of planning, Adams, Massachusetts secured millions in state funding for the Greylock Glen nature center project last week. Town Administrator Jay Green says that’s not all that’s going on in Adams this spring. Green spoke with WAMC about other recent developments in the Berkshire community, from battling COVID-19 to plans for a celebration of its most famous native – Susan B. Anthony.

GREEN: We've had a lot of private sector interest in in Park Street. You know, we receive a lot of feedback, boy, wouldn't it be nice to have Park Street busy again and lively again, and I'm proud to say that we've got some property owners that have changed hands on Park Street. For example, the old Adams Theatre, which had been known as Topia Arts Center, just closed last week. There's a really aggressive owner, quite intelligent owner who's got some great ideas in terms of what to do with that property. So that's exciting. We're going see how that unravels. We have Pete Oleskiewicz who owns Desperados, [the] successful restaurant on Eagle Street in North Adams, as everybody knows, he purchased the classic Miss Adams Diner, again, right on Park Street. Pete's been waiting for the COVID times to pass and he's been doing some upgrades. He's going to be open. We've got some tables that we we acquired through the Shared Streets program through MassDOT last year. They came in late but we've put those out into the downtown dining area so we can have some outdoor dining. We're finally going to be able to celebrate Susan B. Anthony we feel, probably late June. We're now working with the governor and lieutenant governor's office to see if they can not only come out for Greylock Glen, but perhaps they can come out and dedicate the Susan B. Anthony Memorial at town common with construction that had finalized last year for that.

WAMC: The Susan B. Anthony Memorial, what's that going to look like?

So that's our town common. And that was redone- Oh, I think we finished that probably late summer, again, early fall last year. And we have the statue dedicated to Susan B. right there at town common. And that's what that consists of. So we want to do a nice dedication ceremony. We want to thank everybody that raised funds for the statue and be able to dedicate it and put that park into service.

How do you see her ongoing legacy as a part of the character or story of Adams all these years later?

She didn't live in Adams long. But because of her upbringing, I think those years that she lived in Adams that with the Quaker lifestyle, I think that's one of the reasons why she did what she did as the years went on and she moved on to upstate New York and she was so active. I just think it was that upbringing that she had in Adams, that, you know- Adams is very proud of the public participation that we have with our local government. And I think that that need to serve a cause greater than oneself, I think that's often still present in Adams. And I think that that imbibed her as she went on. So I think that's why her legacy is still there. And I think it's important for people to reflect, particularly today. We have the first female Vice President ever in our nation's history. We are the, we’re the torch of democracy and open government across the world, or we should be. And I think that's a great spot for us in the Berkshires to celebrate that.

Adams has been in this process of looking for a new permanent police chief. Where is the town in that search at this point?

So we hired Chief Scott Kelly back in January. Very late in 2020, so in December of 2020, we did a we did a search for a permanent police chief. Chief Scott Kelly applied for the job, among others. And he was the final candidate. The select board hired him in December, and he began in January. He's from South Carolina, and his family has already moved up here and they're all moved in. And he's been on the job now since late January.

And the ongoing struggle with COVID-19- How is the pandemic impacting Adams as of May 2021?

Our numbers are higher than we'd like to have them. That's the one thing that the Board of Health is looking at. But again, with Adams being a bedroom community, we feel that those numbers are probably just because that's where people's residents are. It's been a double-edged sword for us. You know, initially when we started with COVID-19, we were very concerned with the impact on the economy, what would the state aid numbers look like? You know, what would the income look like for the town? So we began to retract some of our spending and went into a fiscal conservative mode in order to control that. I think that helped us weather the storm financially. We're in good shape. We can't spend it, flaunt it around, but frankly, any municipality probably shouldn't do that anyway. So we're on solid ground financially, we just have to be careful how we spend money like any other municipality should. On the flip side to that I think it's generated a lot of interest economically in the town of Adams. Our home sales, Josh, have just been flying. I think somebody told me the other day that a house barely lingers on the market more than a week in the town of Adams. So we've seen a lot of the homes change hands, so we know there's interest in living in Adams for sure. And as I said to you before, with a lot of the interest on Park Street and some of the other downtown areas, we feel as though COVID-19 has been a double-edged sword for everything that we know so far as you know, the people that have passed away from it, but at the same time, it's had a positive economic effect a certain extent on a town such as Adams.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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