ADAMS — Local planners, using state money, are working on 14 plans to help the downtown area recover from coronavirus pandemic damage and, thus, revitalize the town.
During the July 15 meeting to gather input from Adams residents on the plans, Mark Maloy, a manager at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, explained it was all part of the state’s Local Rapid Recovery Plan program, which is funded and designed to aid in the revitalization of downtowns across the state.
The Department of Housing and Community Development awarded a grant for conceiving the plan in March.
There are three phases to embarking on an action plan. Phase 1 is to diagnose the challenges that Adams faces. Phase 2 is to devise action plans that will help to enhance the town and publicize its charms. Phase 3 will be the finalization of the overall strategy.
The deadline for completion of the plan is in August. After the plan has been finalized, a number of funding sources — sponsorships, grants, donations and private investment among them — will have to be identified before it can be implemented, Maloy said.
There are 14 proposed plans to enhance foot traffic and investment in retail spaces in the downtown area.
• Wayfinding: The wayfinding project would be designed to encourage people visiting other attractions to head downtown to visit shops, restaurants, galleries and other points of interest by using a combination of physical signs, information kiosks, printed materials, and web and mobile apps.
• Pop-up stores: Create opportunities for businesses to sell and market at such existing high-traffic areas as the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the Berkshire Scenic Railway station, and special events through pop-up stores and other methods.
• Food destination: Establish a connection to food through a food-and-wellness hub, a food-innovation district, and connecting restaurants to local farms.
• Public spaces: Many of Adams’ downtown public spaces are uninviting and underused. The goal of this project is to create inviting public spaces that encourage visitors and residents to spend more time downtown.
• Regulations: Conduct a comprehensive review of existing regulations, including zoning and parking regulations, signage regulations and regulations about home-based business, in an effort to make starting a business smoother and less time-consuming.
• Events programming/marketing: This project would use events and creative marketing to increase foot traffic downtown.
• Storefront revitalization: Establish a facade and signage program to revitalize dilapidated buildings and business signs. Target one or two storefronts to improve the overall look and feel. Add promotional material or art installation to promote the vacant storefronts.
• Downtown Improvement District: Create a Business Improvement District for downtown — organizations formed by private property owners and businesses downtown.
• Walkable: Develop a plan to implement quick and/or temporary measures to make downtown more walkable through pedestrian bump-outs, crosswalk design, sidewalk improvements, sidewalk ramps and signage, referencing the already active Adams Complete Streets Prioritization Plan.
• Downtown biking enhancements: This project is designed to bring enhancements to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail running from the Adams Visitor Center to the Greylock Federal Credit Union’s side of Park Street. Such enhancements include a bike-maintenance station, an air station for tires, and thematically inspired bike racks placed strategically in the downtown business district.
• Bridge beautification: The Bridge Beautification Program would be one part of an overall Adams Beautification Initiative. The goal would be to increase the aesthetic appeal of Adams, as seen through the eyes of residents, visitors and businesses.
• Renew Adams: Based on successful programs in other communities, the Renew Adams program would work to fill vacant storefronts. Program managers would work with landlords to offer rent-free spaces to startup tenants at no risk to the landlords.
• Update user guides: Update and complete the following three guides – Guide to Setting a Business, and Business Investment Guide by Downtown Adams, and the town of Adams’ “The Roadmap to Ribbon Cutting.” The aim is to provide readily available information to startups, as well as resources needed for business retention.
• Survey user needs: Survey Ashuwillticook, Berkshire Scenic and Greylock Glen visitors to understand what they would like to see that would encourage them to stay in town longer.
Maloy said that once the plans are complete, implementation and the resulting increase in downtown traffic could take several years.
“Some will take months, some will take years,” he said.