Adams Finance Committee recommends Berkshire Scenic Railway expenditure
ADAMS -- After weeks of negotiation, the town reached an agreement to buy a former car wash on Hoosac Street, which it plans to convert into a train station for the proposed Berkshire Scenic Railway.
The purchase of $195,000 will be part of a $552,000 project to renovate the old building into the southern point of the Railway’s "Hoosac Valley Service," about $160,000 of the costs to buy the building, demolish it, and build the train station will be covered by the town, while $386,000 will be paid for by a state Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, pending voter approval at a special Town Meeting on March 24.
If town meeting members turn down the proposal, the $386,000 matching grant would be rescinded.
There was concern -- including amongst Finance Committee members -- that since the town needed the building more than the owner needed to sell it, the town would be forced to overpay.
But Town Administrator Jonathan Butler argued the final price will be $195,000, only about $4,000 over its appraised amount, despite a much lower tax assessment. The $160,000 town-funded portion of the project will come from a free cash account used on capital projects every year, Butler said, and will not have an impact on the tax rate.
"195 was where we were able to get ... we did our diligence in getting it to a reasonable price range," Butler said.
The finance committee ultimately voted by a 6 to 5 margin at its Thursday meeting to recommend the expenditure, despite its concerns, according to Butler. Every other article with financial implications -- there are 9 on the warrant in total -- was recommended by the Finance Committee.
The largest item on the special town meeting warrant is an authorization to allocate $970,000 for renovations to the Adams Free Library, including masonry work to the building’s facade, new roofing, and interior upgrades to make the library more accessible.
Separate from heating improvements, the current estimate for the library’s work is $690,000, according to Butler. The town is still trying to assess if converting the building from heating oil to natural gas will be cost-effective in the long term.
"It’s not as simple as just a boiler conversion," Butler said.
Director Deborah Bruneau and the library’s board of Trustees have pushed hard in recent years for the upgrades.
"I’m just so hopeful that everything goes through," Bruneau said a Board of Selectmen meeting on Wednesday. "You have a gorgeous, gorgeous building there."
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