North Adams gives initial OK for $1.5 million public services facility


NORTH ADAMS — The City Council has given Mayor Richard Alcombright initial authorization to borrow up to $1.5 million for the purchase and renovation of a new public services facility.

The council must approve the borrowing proposal by at least a two-thirds majority a second time at its next meeting for the order to stand.

The council had given Alcombright the green light last month to enter into a $995,000 purchase and sale agreement with the owner of the former Berkshire Anodizing plant on Hodges Cross Road.

Under Alcombright's proposal, the city's public services departments, which are currently scattered in multiple buildings throughout the city, would be consolidated in the 85,000-square-foot Hodges Cross Road building.

In addition to the purchase price, the mayor proposed spending an additional $107,000 on immediate improvements and repairs to the building and $395,850 for "mechanical lifts for machinery, two large overhead bay doors," and other equipment.

But to finalize the plan, the council needs to approve the $1.5 million borrowing plan on Tuesday in order to actually fund the purchase and renovation of the Hodges Cross Road facility.

The mayor had said throughout weeks of council meetings leading up to the purchase and sale agreement's approval in mid-September that his funding proposal would likely be a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan with a low interest rate and 40-year term.

That's still the plan, but the details of the loan had yet to be finalized.

"We've already applied, we already have pre-approval," said City Administrative Officer Michael Canales. "We're now in the application process."

Asked about the odds the city would be awarded the loan, Canales said "We're pretty positive that it will get approved."

By the mayor's estimates, the USDA loan would be at a term of 40 years with an interest rate of 2.5 percent with an annual payment of $61,000. If forced to use the conventional bond market, with a 4 percent interest rate, Alcombright estimated the city would pay $110,225 annually for a 20-year term or $85,000 annually for a 30-year term.

The council authorized the borrowing by an 8-1 vote. Councilor Robert Moulton Jr., who also opposed the purchase and sale agreement, was the lone vote against the borrowing order.

The proposal to purchase the Hodges Cross Road facility was presented by city officials as an affordable alternative to either renovating the Ashland Street Department of Public Works buildings or building a new facility.

The building's owner, 59 Hodges Cross Road LLC, was the only entity to respond to the city's request for proposals for a new public services facility earlier this year.

When the city does finish its move out of the Ashland Street facility, it is expected to be sold by the city. Alcombright has expressed an inclination to see the property in the hands of the private sector, which would be subject to real estate taxes.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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