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Our Opinion

Our Opinion: What we want to see from a Greylock Glen commission

Creating a commission to oversee and operate the relatively small piece of Greylock Glen reserved for commercial development is the next big step toward sustainably tapping the property’s full potential.

As was the case for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Cultural Development Commission, the Glen is a property in which state and local leaders have invested a lot of cash and hope. That investment deserves oversight from an entity focused on guiding the Glen’s future and protecting Adams’ interests in it.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Adams leaders and state Rep. John Barrett III have the Mass MoCA model in mind for a commission that would maintain the Glen, execute subleases and ensure that outside developers keep their word on specific projects, such as the campground proposal and planned outdoor center.

Adams Town Meeting representatives approved the idea of the commission in the fall of 2020, but its official creation also requires the state Legislature’s approval. After a false start in the last legislative session, Rep. Barrett in recent months sponsored new legislation on Beacon Hill to get a Greylock Glen commission going. Right now, that legislation (HD.2142) is still in the draft phase, with Rep. Barrett saying he wants Adams officials to have their say on the contours of the commission and the legislation creating it.

We’re glad Rep. Barrett is giving local leaders a chance to chime in on critical structural points of the commission, such as the size of the board and whether Adams residency should be required for membership.

Here’s what we’d like to see in such legislation:

• Lay out the purpose, powers and responsibilities of the commission with clarity and specificity. The hardworking stakeholders who have long worked toward an ambitious but sustainable plan for Glen development want to see progress materialize as soon as possible. Ensuring all parties are on the same page — commission members, local officials, prospective developers and community developers — are on the same page will make it easier for the commission to hit the ground running.

• Establish a clear and transparent process for appointments. It’s impossible to perfectly transplant the Mass MoCA commission’s appointment process, which runs through North Adams’ city government, with appointments chosen by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. For a Greylock Glen commission formulated through a town government like Adams’, it makes sense to give the appointment power to the Select Board, the top panel in town. Without a similar confirmation method, however, the Select Board should make the appointment process open as possible to the view of voters.

• Speaking of openness, there should be transparency not just in how the commission is appointed but in how it conducts itself. The commission should be held to comply with Open Meeting Law so its activity can be observable and accountable to Adams residents and the broader community whose interests lie in the Glen’s future.

After nurturing for years the dream of sustainable development at the Greylock Glen, it’s good to see that dream start to become a reality, from the construction of the outdoor center to necessary procedural steps like creating a commission to oversee the future of a prime slice of Berkshire landscape. To some opposed to development proposals like the campground on relatively small pieces of the Glen, the seemingly sudden pace of progress over the last year might seem scary or overwhelming. But the best way to show that the grand plan is progressing responsibly and sustainably is to ensure the commission tasked with overseeing that development has a clear mandate and reasonable parameters.

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