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Public forum on Greylock Glen campsite development in Adams draws hundreds

ADAMS — Developer Shared Estates heard — a lot — from supportive residents and vociferous critics alike, about the company’s planned project at Greylock Glen during a public forum Thursday evening.

The Lenox-based developer hosted the lively exchange at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church on Commercial Street. It ran about three hours and featured robust criticism as well as praise for the project.

Town Administrator Jay Green began the proceedings by discussing the history of attempts to develop Greylock Glen. He argued that developing the site is essential to the town’s economic development.

“I think all of you sitting in the room tonight need to keep in mind one thing: Where does the town of Adams want to be?” Green asked the audience. “When the door opens, there’s limited time to step through it. That time is now.”

Shared Estates founder Daniel Dus then addressed those gathered with an overview of the project. He made the case that the proposed campsite would spur economic activity in an otherwise economically depressed town — he noted a precipitous population decline in town since the 1960s.

Dus highlighted money already spent by the state — $3 million since 2006 — as well as Shared Estates’ move to halve living units on the campsite. He argued that Shared Estates has taken an unusual amount of effort to contact the public about the project.

“Developers like to fly under the radar not say anything about the project until they have a permit in their hand,” he said. “This is the opposite of that.”

Dus assured attendees that Greylock Glen’s trails will not be impacted at all. And he went through nightly pricing — roughly $100 per person per night. That’s why he intends to encourage group rentals.

For the development’s different living possibility, from tented camping sites to airstreams to cabins, on average it’s $181 a night. The tented camping sites will be $40 a night, on which Dus said he would lose money. Airstream trailers will have a nightly rate of around $145.

Dus listed what Shared Estates says are positives to the town from the project. In particular, he said the company plans to provide more than $8 million in revenue to the town every 25 years.

He said Shared Estates is opting for a natural wood-covered facade covered cabin.

Thoughts from residents

Ilona Sherratt, of Cheshire, questioned Shared Estates’ overall vision. She urged Dus to include “more real campsites for real nature, not a curated experience.”

“In terms of being too high end or refined for this place or this space, we’re trying to something really different and really special for normal people,” Dus replied.

Adams resident John “Rocco” Trimarchi asked about how community investors would get their returns, to which Dus said Shared Estates is hoping to diversify the town’s economy.

Kathy Hynes, another Adams resident, asked about how the development would affect the town’s medical services. Dus responded in part by saying that the revenue the project would provide the town would allow them to expand medical services if necessary.

Jarred Mongeon, of Dalton, asked whether Shared Estates would be willing to up their tent sites numbers, and Dus said the company would look into it.

There were also multiple positive comments. Myra Wilk of Adams thanked Dus for holding the public forum and giving detailed answers.

“Most importantly, thank you for choosing Adams, we really appreciate it,” she said.

The crowd of roughly 200 people had decreased to about 75 by 8:15 p.m.

Thursday’s event follows a public back and forth between the developer, the town and detractors of the campsite project. Some have said the plan, projected to cost $12 million to $15 million, is too upscale for a “rustic” campground. They see it as disruptive at the convergence of several hiking trails.

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.

After Mass Audubon says planned 'mirror houses' at Greylock Glen are bad for birds, developer removes them from the campground plan

Town officials, including Green and Dus, have pushed back on the anti-development crowd, noting that the project has been repeatedly pared down to accommodate past concerns.

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 elimated that part of the plan in the face of concerns from Mass Audubon about the potential for the mirror structures to endangers birds who may see their reflection.

Sten Spinella can be reached at sspinella@berkshireeagle.com or 860-853-0085.

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