A bill before the Legislature would establish a commission to oversee and operate Greylock Glen’s commercial enterprise which is just now starting to take shape.
At a meeting this week with editors and a reporter from The Eagle, Adams Town Administrator Jay Green said he expects a Greylock Glen Commission will eventually exist, and it will be “very similar to what was done with Mass MoCA.” Adams Select Board member Christine Hoyt and Shared Estates founder Daniel Dus were also in attendance.
State Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, introduced the bill that would make that happen this session. According to him, the commission would be an oversight body in charge of executing leases, maintaining the property and making sure that any developers attached to the project keep their word.
“It should be a separate agency approved by the Selectmen — no different from a cemetery commission, or housing authority, but with a lot more responsibility in the sense that they are the ones who would be negotiating leases,” Barrett said.
“They are the town’s representatives. They are the protectors of the property.”
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Cultural Development Commission is comprised of the mayor of North Adams and eight members who are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Its responsibilities involve “acting on behalf of the city to undertake any project or projects to acquire land” and “to construct, reconstruct, rehabilitate, finish or expand Mass MoCA’s facilities,” according to the city website. “The Commission also has responsibility for approving commercial leases on the Mass MoCA campus.”
When he was mayor of North Adams, Barrett served on the Mass MoCA Commission.
“The town’s role is to get this up and running right now,” Green said of the Glen’s development. “Get the RFPs out, get the developers in, get the leases squared away with the developers. Once we begin to have an operational model, then the commission will begin to take over. That commission may be five people appointed by the Select Board.”
Green added that the town plans to hire a superintendent of buildings and grounds and an executive director position for the Glen. Those positions would report to Green and the Select Board until the commission’s apparatus is functional.
Hoyt explained that Adams Town Meeting representatives approved the idea of the commission in the fall of 2020. It went through the Legislature last year; former Democratic state Sen. Adam Hinds introduced it. Barrett said the description of the Glen property in the bill had problems and necessitated a rewrite.
“By the time that was cleared up and it got back to the House side last year, there wasn’t enough time to get it out of Ways and Means, to get the proper hearings and everything else that goes with it,” Barrett said.
This year, he doesn’t anticipate a problem getting it passed. The House of Representatives legal counsel is working on the bill language, and Barrett is waiting to speak with Adams officials to see what they want in the legislation.
“As I told one of the Selectmen who called me on it, this is going to go back to the Selectmen to make some decisions,” Barrett said. “What is the size of the board? Who should be on the board? Should it just be Adams residents? These are all things that have to be decided by the town.”
House counsel informed Barrett of an issue: The 2020 approval of the commission at town meeting may have taken place too long ago for it to remain valid, meaning they could have to vote again. Still, there may be a solution.
“House counsel thinks if I seek permission of the Legislature, this does not have to go back to town meeting,” Barrett said.
Greylock Glen, although formerly farmed and developed for a failed downhill ski area, consists of 1,000 reforesting acres with views of Mount Greylock. The town of Adams is the project developer, and construction is underway for an outdoor recreation center. There is already a trail system for skiing and hiking.
In December, the Select Board OK’d Shared Estates’ preliminary plan for a 23-acre campground, which included plans for “mirror” cabins with reflective outer walls. But the company eliminated that part of the plan in the face of concerns from Mass Audubon about the potential for the mirror structures to endanger birds who may see their reflection.