ADAMS — And there it sits: Long after closing, the gas pumps at 26 Commercial St. in Adams remained entombed in wooden boxes, advertising for all to see that commerce had come to a halt.
The derelict two-bay Mobil station, which land records say is owned by Charles "Rusty" Ransford, has bothered town officials for years. Now, a plan approved by town meeting members could do something about it.
Members of the session agreed last week to authorize the Select Board to acquire the roughly quarter-acre lot.
The price? Nothing out of pocket, though in a deal shaped by Town Administrator Jay R. Green, Adams agrees to forgive and remove liens on a different Ransford family property down the street.
"People have always said we should do something with that property," Green said. "Can I say it's an even swap? No, not necessarily."
Town meeting members agreed Thursday night to support the deal, spelled out in legalistic language in Article 26 of their warrant. "Said negotiations resulting in no cost to the Town other than the presumed loss of back taxes."
Those taxes are owed on 50 Commercial St., another Ransford property that had once contributed to a sense of disuse and blight on the town's southern gateway. The town is also owed reimbursement for what it paid in 2018 to demolish the former Duteau's Garage on the parcel, located just north of the Adams Redemption Center.
The old garage, built in 1921, had been vacant for 17 years and was collapsing, officials said at the time. The property was more than $100,000 in arrears on local taxes in 2018 and was assessed at $127,400.
Green said the liens on 50 Commercial St., including the costs of demolition, come to around $145,000.
He said Randy Ransford, the son of the property owner, approached him about a swap. By clearing the liens, the 50 Commercial St. property would be easier to sell, Green noted.
A few town meeting members groused that a better deal might have been reached earlier. But, Green said taking action is timely, given improvements elsewhere in the neighborhood.
For the town, taking ownership of the old Mobil station builds out the public footprint on the south side of the Hoosac Valley Elementary School. Parents of schoolchildren often use the old station to pick up and drop off students.
The site may be useful in the future for school parking, Green said. "And make it look a lot nicer."
The trade, he said, could also help 50 Commercial St. find a productive new use as a rebuild nears for Route 8. The road is poised to be the subject of a $7.5 million reconstruction.
On the other side of the school, improvements to the Town Common, home to a newly installed statue honoring Adams native Susan B. Anthony, are wrapping up. The work cost $424,900, with two-thirds of the expense covered by a state parks grant.
Larry Parnass can be reached at email@example.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-588-8341.