North Adams seeks local business input on where to site an outdoor theater

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NORTH ADAMS — City officials are continuing to study the potential for an outdoor theater in North Adams.

In partnership with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, the city is now reaching out to local business owners to assess where in the downtown area an outdoor theater might be a good fit. The North Adams Chamber of Commerce and Berkshire Regional Planning Commission have scheduled a Feb. 19 forum for input.

The meeting comes after the feasibility study's leaders have already reached out to individual stakeholders.

The exploration of a downtown theater of some kind is a continuation of efforts that began under former Mayor Richard Alcombright. Now, the city has set aside $20,000 of its Community Development Block Grant funds to hire the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to study the topic.

"There's been talk for some time now about having an outdoor theater of some kind, similar to what you find in other communities," said Michael Nuvallie, the city's special projects coordinator.

Officials have already laid out a few potential sites. Because the process has only just begun, the city has not gotten caught up in the details or worried too much about potential hurdles when it comes to siting; possibilities include the privately owned Steeple City Plaza lot off of Main Street, Colegrove Park and the Leu Lot on Marshall Street.

In 2016, the city hosted a free concert series at Colegrove Park on a temporary stage, and it continues to host events like movie screenings there.

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The project leaders will look for input to help assess the strengths and weaknesses of each location, Nuvallie said. The meeting on Feb. 19 is intended to be quite open to discussion and the needs of local business owners, according to Leah Demarest, fiscal and compliance officer in the office of community development.

"It's also more broadly about what business owners" would like to see downtown, she added.

It remains to be seen what the interest level in an outdoor theater will be among business owners, said Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Maloney. "Part of this is to try to find that out."

Maloney pointed to the town common in Adams as a central gathering place in its downtown, and noted North Adams has never really had anything comparable. "I'm intrigued of what people will think and where this conversation goes," he said.

The meeting is slated for 6 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Design Lab, 49 Main St.

Officials plan to hold a meeting for input from the general public at a later date when details about the potential project become clearer.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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