NORTH ADAMS — The city's skate park on State Street is poised to move ahead after the City Council accepted a gift of the former Modern Liquors building on Tuesday.
The long-vacant former liquor store, and the parcel it is on, was donated to the city by Porches Inn Owner and local philanthropist John Wadsworth to assist the city in its efforts to renovate and revitalize the Noel Field area.
The building, which was accepted unanimously by the city council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, is expected to be razed by the end of 2016, according to Mayor Richard Alcombright.
The parcel was an important piece of the city's plans for a skate park at Noel Field, which would encroach on the current parking lot near Noel Field. The razed building will likely be used for additional parking as the city embarks on a multitiered development plan they hope will result in a skate park, and spray park.
City officials expect to begin construction on the skate park in 2017.
The city also learned this month that it has won a $400,000 federal Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Grant, which will be matched with $300,000 of Community Development Block Grant funding to pay for the skate park's construction.
Councilor Keith Bona asked if the city would be accepting the donation of land from Wadsworth regardless of whether the skate park were to move forward.
Alcombright reminded the councilors that the building was under contract to be purchased in 2010 by the city under a previous administration, but Alcombright backed out the sale when he came into office because the city didn't have the funds for it.
"The important thing to keep in mind is the acquisition or the acceptance of this property from the private sector should not be viewed against the skate park," said Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie. "If the skate project never came to fruition, was never an idea, never crossed our radar screens, this is still a good [acquisition]. "
Wadsworth purchased the former liquor store for $198,000 on Nov. 19 and quickly moved to transfer it into the city's ownership. The parcel will come off of the tax roll, but the taxes on the building had not been paid in several years, according to Alcombright, so the city also received $79,000 when the sale went through thanks to a lien on the property.
The building's demolition will be paid with CDBG funds that had been dedicated to demolition of the dilapidated mill houses on Houghton Street, which are now slated to be taken down by their private owners.
There is a private tenant behind the Modern Liquors building, who uses his space for storage and expressed support for the project, but wanted a better idea of the plans moving forward and how they would impact him. Alcombright said he would be happy to meet with the tenant.
The skate park plan will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission in early 2016, according to Alcombright.