Historic grain building to be centerpiece of new Adams park project


ADAMS — Town officials have embarked on a plan to install a new park that would capitalize on its proximity to an old building that harks back to the days when agricultural and railroad activities were essential to the local economy.

According to Donna Cesan, interim town administrator, the old Hoosac Valley Coal and Grain building is going to be preserved because of its iconic presence at Cook and Columbia streets and the role it played as a grain elevator in the old days, a function involving local farmers and the railroad.

It also happens to be adjacent to the Berkshire Scenic Railway, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the Hoosic River. The idea has been kicked around since the Downtown Plan was composed in 2003.

Today, Cesan said, money from the Community Development Block Grant program will pay for a design of the new park. While the designers are working on that, the hope is that Environmental Protection Agency will fund a cleanup of coal dust and petroleum contamination on the site.

The plan is to stabilize the building and grain elevator, remove old foundations and other debris from the roughly 1-acre site and install a pocket park, ideally by 2020. Several grant sources are being explored to fund the estimated $500,000 to $800,000 price tag, Cesan said.

The town is about to issue a request for proposals to find an architect to design the stabilization plan for the building. Beyond that, options are being explored for how the building will be used.

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According to Becky Ferguson, program manager for the town, it was built between 1908 and 1914 and stopped serving as a grain elevator in the 1950s. After that, it served as a retail store for pet and animal feed and energy sources like coal.

The town took the property in 2015, after a few years of vacancy, for back taxes.

"It really lends itself to the imagination as to what we could do with it," Cesan said. "It really showcases the town's history. And we will install parking on-site for visitors and local residents."

The design phase will be complete by the end of the year, she noted, and construction funding will be sought starting early in 2019.

"It may be that we'll have to fund this project in phases," Cesan said.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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