NORTH ADAMS — Pending the City Council's approval, Porches Inn owner and philanthropist Jack Wadsworth will donate the former Modern Liquors building on State Street to the city.
The long-vacant property, purchased by Wadsworth for $198,000 on Nov. 19, will be integrated into the city's plans for a new community skate park and recreational area. The gift coincides with Mayor Richard Alcombright's announcement the city has received a $400,000 federal Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Grant to fund the park's construction.
The PARC Grant, matched with the city's with Community Development Block Grant funds, is expected to round out the funding for the skate park, which has been estimated to cost about $700,000 in total and is now expected to be built in 2017.
Under development for several years, the skate park received a "groundswell of support" from the public through its feasibility and design stages, according to Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie.
Although the first stage of construction will only call for construction of the skate park, city officials envision an entire public complex built in several stages that includes renovated basketball courts and a small water park. That long-term vision for the park probably helped the city win the competitive federal grant, Nuvallie said.
"We just didn't want a cookie-cutter skate park, so we tried to think outside the box," Nuvallie said. "The long-run scheme of things is to do more than just a skate park."
The Modern Liquors parcel will be used for parking, since the city's plans encroach on the current parking area near Noel Field to become a part of the recreational facility. Demolition of the former liquor store is expected to be complete before 2016.
"Really the thing that was up in the air for me was securing the Modern Liquors building, and Mr. Wadsworth was gracious enough to help out in that process," Alcombright said.
The next steps as the skate park project moves forward are to finish the design and eventually put the construction out to bid, according to Nuvallie.
"This gift of property coupled with receipt of the grant have positioned us to move this project forward," Alcombright wrote in a letter to the City Council this week. "On behalf of the City, I want to thank Mr. Wadsworth for his continued generosity."
The demolition of the Modern Liquors building will likely be paid for with the Community Development Block Grant funds that had previously been set aside to raze the blighted stretch of mill houses on Houghton Street, according to Alcombright. The estate that owns those properties is now taking steps to demolish the houses itself.
In 2014, Wadsworth donated the former Homestead Tavern on River Street and paid for its renovation into a United Neighborhood Organization community center that opened in May.