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50 years in the making, town officials seek interest in development at Greylock Glen

By Patrick Donges


Adams, MA – At the eastern base of the highest peak in Massachusetts, located in the town of Adams, development plans for the 1,060 acres known as Greylock Glen have been swirling around the Berkshires for nearly half a century.

In 2006 the state approved a "Provisional Designated Developer Agreement" drafted by Adams that established the town as manager of the project. Wednesday night, the town Board of Selectmen attended a workshop meeting on the project's next steps; Arthur Harrington is Chairman of the Adams Board of Selectmen.

"This is a very exciting process. Basically we're looking at interest in the hotel and conference center at this point."

The town is putting the finishing touches on a "request for an expression of interest," or RFEI, for release to potential developers of the lodging phase of the project; planned to include over 170 rooms for guest accommodation. Jonathan Butler is the town manager of Adams.

"The purpose of the RFEI is to really give us an idea of first off, what developers, if any, have interest in the project. But then also for the developers to answer some questions, give us some feedback, make some comments, and basically educate us on some of the challenges or concerns that they have."

Those concerns may include road and sewer infrastructure at the site, which the town is planning on updating with a MassWorks grant from the state that would allow them to begin that work as early as next year.

Donna Cesan, director of community development in Adams and point-person for the Greylock Glen project described how the timeline for phased construction at the site has changed since 2004.

"Initially, the lodge and conference center was envisioned as the third and final phase of the project. Our thinking has changed because we've had a very successful partnership with a lot of the environmental groups that have previously fought the project."

"Our work with the commonwealth has been positive, and given it's the largest piece and it carries everything else we have just decided to go forward with the lodge and conference center."

Part of that state support Cesan mentioned is in the form of $3 million in incentive funds from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, about $800,000 of which has been allocated to the town to secure permits, with the rest expected to be used by DCR for the construction of multi-use trails throughout the site.

The trail system had previously been cited as the first construction phase of the project, but those plans changed as per the town's agreement with the state; here's Cesan.

"Their agreement with us is that we have to have the financing in place for the first phase. So if we were able to next summer, select a developer, enter into an agreement, (and) they had their financing for the project, then DCR could even start the trail system next fall."

"I would say it's more likely that things really start going forward in terms of the different components of the project in 2013, but the infrastructure work we're hoping will start next summer."

That timeline however holds many "ifs," according to Cesan, including the volatility of the building market as world markets continue to sway in response to the tenuous debate on raising the nation's debt ceiling and the credit rating downgrade that followed.

Cesan said while economic uncertainty is a concern; incentives for developers to begin work on the project right away may help squash those doubts.

"What we're trying to achieve is that this is a shovel ready site; all the permitting is accomplished, the utilities are basically to the edge of the site. The only permits that they have to obtain are site plan review from the town of Adams and a building permit."

"That's really more or less unprecedented; we've tried to take the uncertainty out of this for private developers."

Butler said the town will also be working with state finance and development authority MassDevelopment to try and secure additional incentive funding for potential developers.

After almost 50 years in the making, Butler said he is confident this iteration of the development project will be brought to completion.

"This has been a very disciplined and diligent process, and I do think that we will see this through."