This lease agreement is important because it give potential private developers a single entity to work with. In the past, potential developers were concerned with having to coordinate with multiple agencies including the Town of Adams, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) and Mass Development. The signing of the lease alleviates those issues. In addition, it gives the Town of Adams the ability to keep the project moving forward.
To further entice potential private development, significant improvements have also recently been made to the infrastructure at the Glen. Funded through a state grant of $2 million, work has been completed to bring water, sewer, natural gas and cable service to roughly 70% of the development area. Funding for the remaining work to reach 100% infrastructure build out at the site was earmarked in the state's 2014 Transportation Bond Bill, giving the town access to $1.75 million. It should be noted that the design and engineering work for entire infrastructure project is 100% complete.
Requests for proposals for the campgrounds will be issued to prospective developers early in 2015.
Current Project Plans
Officially called the Greylock Glen Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education Center, the project's Master Plan includes the development of two campgrounds, an environmental education center, a lodge/conference facility and an extensive trail system.
The Master Plan was carefully developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), Massachusetts Audubon, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and many other environmental and civic organizations.
This project will create a tourist attraction and four-season outdoor recreation area for hiking, cross-country skiing, interpretive exhibits, art and performance spaces and other amenities. Existing businesses in town will benefit from potentially significant new tourist dollars being spent in Adams. Where Berkshire County as a whole is well known as a tourism destination, Adams has not really participated in that economy because it has lacked a destination that draws visitors. In addition, the town will benefit through increased revenues from fees and taxes from the private development at the Glen.
The major components envisioned in the Master Plan are described below. Please understand that this is how the planners envision the project to be built. With most of the project intended to be built by private developers, their ideas will be evaluated by Adams as part of the bidding process.
Lodging and Conference Center
High quality lodging and conference facilities will help Adams to develop a significant tourism sector in the local economy. The 170-room "Thunderbolt Retreat" will bring a real hotel to Adams, Massachusetts. It will offer lodging and dining, as well as meeting, conference and banquet facilities, as well as food and beverage. This will be a privately built and managed component.
The proposed campground consists of 140 sites in a well-screened and wooded location on both side of Gould Road. In addition to traditional tent sites, rustic cabins and eco-shelter sites will be offered, as well as a limited number of small RV sites. This will be a privately built and managed component.
Performing Arts Amphitheater
The proposed outdoor performing arts amphitheater is intended to be moderately sized with approximately 2,500 seats. The facility would be designed to complement other performing arts programming in the northern Berkshires. MASS MoCA may lend its considerable expertise in concept development and facility design, and it has expressed interest in managing and operating the facility. This will be a privately built and managed component.
Environmental Education Center
The Environmental Education Center is proposed as an 11,000 square foot, multi-purpose facility including a welcome and orientation center, exhibit space, a media room, classrooms and concession area. The Center will have a general public focus but also may be the location of an MCLA field station for the college's Environmental Studies program. This component will be publicly built and managed as designated by the town. However, the building will also include a Nordic Ski Center to be run by a private operator.
Outdoor Environmental Art Gallery
In order to appeal to the well-established cultural tourism sector in Berkshire County, an art installation will be essential to the development concept. Unique artworks will be created within the Glen's natural setting that merge the boundaries of art and nature and enhance the experience of visitors. A curated outdoor sculpture/environmental art "garden" is proposed on the eastern end the development area. The site may include both temporary and permanent exhibitions showcasing a mix of regional, national and international artists.
The proposed trail system will accommodate a wide variety of users with different skills and interests. The Glen trails will connect with the existing trail network on the Mount Greylock State Reservation. Trails are intended for walking, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Additional features of the trails system may include an accessible Interpretive Nature Trail around the central Glen wetlands area and a proposed 20 kilometers of Nordic Ski trails, with partial snow-making and lighting for evening skiing. The trail system also will accommodate the many snowmobile users wishing to access State Reservation lands, with designated trails and a parking area across from the proposed lodge. Later phases of the project may include equestrian trails. The first phase of the trails system will be built by DCR with $2.2 million in existing funds set aside by the agency for this purpose. The town will maintain the trails as they are constructed.
The final component of the Town's development concept is the permanent protection of approximately 1,000 acres. This land will be protected and managed consistent with the uses permitted by the DCR.