Virus stalls release of money for Greylock Glen project

Plans for an 11,000-square-foot Greylock Glen Outdoor Center in Adams still await the release of funding, which was approved by the Legislature in 2018 and was included in economic development and environmental bond bills signed by Gov. Charlie Baker.

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ADAMS — Though designs are complete for a $6.5 million outdoor recreation center on the slope of Mount Greylock, shovels sit idle.

The coronavirus pandemic has quieted hopes that 2020 would be the year construction began on the long-awaited Greylock Glen development. Proponents also thought 2019 would be their year.

Funding for an Outdoor Center off Gould Road was approved by the Legislature in 2018 and was included in economic development and environmental bond bills signed by Gov. Charlie Baker.

But, that money still hasn't been released, now amid uncertainty over how badly the coronavirus is beating up on the state's balance sheet.

"It puts a big question on what available funds there are for this," said Jay R. Green, the Adams town administrator, one of many Berkshire County officials forced to play the long game on Greylock.

It was two years ago that officials gathered in Adams Town Hall to show off plans for an 11,000-square-foot "rustic" outdoor center, with views west to the state's highest peak. The Glen parcel, at 1,063 acres, includes woodlands, open land, ponds and wetlands and lies close to the 12,500-acre Mount Greylock State Reservation.

Though high-end resorts once were pitched here, the new Glen seeks to draw people who want to enjoy the outdoors.

State Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, said he spoke with Baker in late winter, just before the pandemic hit. Baker was heading off on a ski trip, Barrett said, and signaled that Greylock funding would be out soon.

"He said, `We'll have this settled in 10 days,'" Barrett said.

The public health crisis emerged instead, and Baker has not yet allowed Glen funding to be allocated.

Barrett remains confident that, eventually, the money will be freed up. He said the pandemic has illustrated how much people value outdoor recreation.

"The light is now shining more and more on this," he said. "This is about bringing visitors here. And the age-old goal of keeping them here for a week. The catalyst will be the construction of that welcoming center."

Green said the town continues to seek smaller state grants to prepare infrastructure at the site. It has put in for a MassWorks grant to extend the water supply through the property, including to fight any future fires, and to put in stormwater drains.

A $2 million MassWorks grant already paid for water and sewer systems, as well as repairs to Gould Road.

All that prep work is seen as key to attracting private developers interested in building out recreational options, including lodging.

Green said an investor has expressed a desire to create a "glamping" resort and expects to bid, once a request for proposals is put out.

"We've got to seed it with the public sector," Green said.

When they unveiled the new concept in June 2018, officials estimated that a full build-out would cost $50 million, most of it from the private sector. The parcel would include a 140-site campground with restrooms, hot showers, rustic cabins and what is described as "eco-tents," as well as a lodge and convention center.

But, they stressed that the Glen now is all about taking one step at a time.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-588-8341.


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