Hearing set for Adams Memorial Middle School building HVAC funding

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ADAMS — A public hearing at the Wednesday, Feb. 14 Select Board meeting is inviting public comment regarding the use of $550,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to replace the heating and ventilation system at the Adams Memorial Middle School.

The town applied for the grant specifically for this project, and as part of the application, the town has to seek public input, said Donna Cesan, interim town administrator.

The 1952 building, which closed in 2009, includes an expansive gymnasium and an auditorium.

In 2014, Cesan noted, the town spent $600,000 in grant funding to replace the roof, which sealed the building from water leaks, stabilizing the structure. The final obstacle to reopening the building for further use is the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system.

The existing system would cost more to fix than to replace, she added. Without it, the building could not be cleared for use due to air quality issues.

"Structurally the building is sound. This is the only issue preventing full use," Cesan said. "It's a very important hurdle. And this is a tremendous community asset we need to protect."

There are a number of community organizations that would love to have ongoing access to the gym, including Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, which from time to time allows team practice there, Cesan noted. Other youth leagues and community groups have indicated they would like to use the gym as well. And community groups could make good use of the auditorium for meetings and lectures.

"In the winter, we really have no indoor recreational facilities for the community," she added.

A previous feasibility study showed the classroom sections could be converted to 14 to 20 apartments or condos fairly easily, should a developer respond to a planned request for proposals, Cesan said.

"I think we have a good plan in place, so this is appropriate," she said.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in the Select Board meeting room on the first floor of Adams Town Hall, at 8 Park St.

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


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