Our Opinion: A promising plan for developing Glen without ruining it

For decades, Adams has tried without success to find a way to benefit from the natural beauty of Greylock Glen without destroying that beauty in the process. It may finally be on the verge of locating that middle ground.

The town has received 13 responses to its request to design and supervise the building of an outdoor skiing and education center at the Greylock Glen (Eagle, February 15.) The 1,000-acre parcel is nestled beneath Mount Greylock, the state's highest mountain, and provides a panoramic view of the imposing peak towering above Adams.

Proposals for large hotels, golf courses and even tramways up the side of the mountain have come and gone over the decades. Most died of over-ambition. All would have risked destroying the glen in the process of exploiting it. Adams, with its economic challenges, has long sought to profit from the glen's development, and understandably so, but jeopardizing the fundamental reasons that make the glen so appealing would likely have meant that any economic gains would have been short-lived.

Adams wants to start with a $5 million, 11,000-square-foot center before moving on to a $53 million project that would feature eco-tourism as well as entertainment. This cautious approach is in dramatic contrast to ambitious past efforts that were designed to generate profits quickly without adequately considering possible ramifications. Certainly Nordic skiing is a natural for the Glen, as it is for other spots in the Berkshires, assuming the presence of snow. After last year's nearly snowless winter, the storms of February signal that traditional Berkshire winters are not entirely a thing of the past.

The Massachusetts Audubon Society has shown interest in managing programs at the projected education center. The Society, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Mass MoCA and the Appalachian Mountain Club worked with Adams officials in recent years to produce a viable plan for recreation and education at the Glen. The 13 responses, 11 of which came from Massachusetts, indicate they have hit upon a potentially successful concept.

Adams residents and officials have waited with varying degrees of impatience for something to emerge in the Glen. These proposals won't generate the high profits promised by past developers but those promises were dubious and even if successful would have made an an environmentally sensitive and aesthetically pleasing area unrecognizable. The current plan has the potential to benefit Adams and the Berkshires while preserving the essence of the Glen.


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