In Adams, the great outdoors is poised to get a bit greater.
For years, local leaders have fostered ambitions for an outdoor recreation and nature center at Greylock Glen. Now, that hope is finally paying off. Thanks to a recently released $6.5 million chunk of state funds, the project is set to begin construction this year to be completed and open to the public by next year.
The incoming state bond bill lets Adams put out a request for bids based on recently updated plans that were first unveiled in 2018. But the saga of seeking appropriate development of the Glen long predates the drafting of those plans — by half a century. Adams Select Board Chairman John Duval said that his own research into the history of proposals unearthed news clippings about projects pitched as far back as April 1971.
“It’s almost been 50 years to the day that our community has waited for this moment,” Mr. Duval told The Eagle.
It now appears the wait was worth it. Developers have floated myriad grand schemes for the parcel, from condos and golf courses to a casino. Unlike those ideas, the current plan fully embraces the potential naturally offered by the Berkshires’ iconic landscape. The Greylock Glen Outdoor Center, slated to be nestled in the shadow of the state’s tallest peak, will be a massive milestone for Adams. Beyond that, it goes to show that preserving and appreciating the outdoor wonders of our fair shire and priming the pump for regional economic development don’t have to be mutually exclusive efforts.
State officials certainly saw it that way when they released the funds for the project. Kathleen A. Theoharides, who heads the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, praised the proposal for its bold vision to stimulate the Northern Berkshire economy while retaining reverence for the setting’s natural beauty.
“It’s impossible to stand on that site and not see the potential,” Ms. Theoharides said.
It’s also impossible to fully appreciate the progress of this project without acknowledging who first saw that potential and tirelessly fought for it. This recent announcement puts the outdoor center plan near the finish line, but it’s been a years-long labor of love for community leaders.
State Rep. John Barrett made advancing the project a priority when he ran for the Legislature, and he hasn’t let the goal out of his sight since. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who joined Wednesday’s videoconference to announce the state funding, mentioned that Rep. Barrett constantly found a way to introduce development funding for Greylock Glen into conversations with Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.
Donna Cesan retired last year as Adams’ director of community development, but her vision continues to serve her community with the outdoor center plan’s fruition. Ms. Cesan, who nearly cried tears of joy when hearing about the project securing state funding, remembers handing off a Greylock Glen plan to MassDevelopment back in 2004. That is what public service is truly about: aiming high with big ideas and lots of legwork to transform a long-held dream into a reality for your community.
These are, of course, just two names among the myriad residents, Select Board members, town administrators and other figures past and present who have worked to keep this dream alive. Over the years, many in Adams have invested their time and sweat equity into this project. Now that the state has matched their investment with the necessary cash, those efforts soon could pay dividends to the future of Adams and the greater Northern Berkshire region.
Reflecting on the plan’s long timeline, Rep. Barrett said that appropriate development of the Greylock Glen used to be “known as the project that would never happen.” Fortunately, the tenacity of local leaders has proven that previous pessimism wrong. We commend all who have worked to realize a project that will accentuate a beauteous bit of Berkshire landscape and, hopefully, drive economic development for a region that needs it.