ADAMS – Local planners, using state money, are working on 14 plans to help the city center recover from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and, thus, revitalize the city.
During the July 15 meeting to collect feedback from Adams residents on the plans, Mark Maloy, director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, explained that this was all part of the state’s Local Rapid Recovery Plan program, which is funded and designed to help revitalize downtown areas across the state.
The Department of Housing and Community Development awarded a design grant for the plan in March.
There are three phases to getting started on an action plan. Phase 1 involves diagnosing the challenges Adams faces. Phase 2 consists of designing action plans that will help showcase the city and publicize its charms. Phase 3 will be the finalization of the overall strategy.
The deadline for completion of the plan is August. Once the plan is finalized, a number of sources of funding – sponsorships, grants, donations, and private investments among them – will need to be identified before it can be implemented, Maloy said.
There are 14 proposed plans to improve foot traffic and investment in retail space in the downtown area.
â¢ Orientation: The orientation project would be designed to encourage people visiting other attractions to travel downtown to visit shops, restaurants, galleries and other points of interest using a combination of signs. physical, information kiosks, print materials, web and mobile applications.
â¢ Pop-up Shops: Create opportunities for businesses to sell and market in existing high traffic areas such as the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and Berkshire Scenic Rail Station, and special events via pop-up shops and other methods.
â¢ Gourmet Destination: Connect with food through a Food and Wellness Center, a food innovation district and connecting restaurants to local farms.
â¢ Public spaces: Many public spaces in downtown Adams are unattractive and underutilized. The goal of this project is to create inviting public spaces that encourage visitors and residents to spend more time downtown.
â¢ Regulatory: Carry out a comprehensive review of existing regulations, including zoning and parking regulations, signage regulations, and home-based business regulations, with the aim of making it easier to start a business and reduce in time.
â¢ Event Programming / Marketing: This project would use events and creative marketing to increase pedestrian traffic in the downtown area.
â¢ Storefront Revitalization: Establish a facade and signage program to revitalize dilapidated buildings and commercial signs. Target one or two storefronts to improve the overall appearance. Add promotional material or an art installation to promote vacant storefronts.
â¢ Downtown Improvement District: Create a Downtown Business Improvement District – organizations formed by private landlords and downtown businesses.
â¢ Accessible on foot: develop a plan to implement rapid and / or temporary measures to make the city center more accessible on foot through pedestrian zones, design of crosswalks, sidewalk improvements, ramps. sidewalk and signage, with reference to the already active Adams Complete Streets prioritization plan.
â¢ Downtown Bike Path Improvements: This project is designed to make improvements to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail from the Adams Visitor Center to the Greylock Federal Credit Union side of Park Street. These upgrades include a bicycle service station, tire air station, and themed-inspired bike racks strategically placed in the downtown business district.
â¢ Bridge Beautification: The Bridge Beautification Program would be part of an overall Adams beautification initiative. The goal would be to increase Adams’ aesthetic appeal, as seen through the eyes of residents, visitors and businesses.
â¢ Renew Adams: Based on successful programs in other communities, the Renew Adams program would aim to fill vacant storefronts. Program managers would work with landlords to provide rent-free space to start-up tenants without risk to landlords.
â¢ Update User Guides: Update and complete the following three guides: Downtown Adams Business Start-Up Guide and Business Investment Guide and City of Adams âThe Roadmap to Ribbon Cuttingâ . The aim is to provide information that is easily accessible to startups, as well as the resources necessary to retain companies.
â¢ Survey User Needs: Survey visitors to Ashuwillticook, Berkshire Scenic and Greylock Glen to find out what they would like to see that would encourage them to stay in town longer.
Maloy said that once the plans are completed, the implementation and the resulting increase in downtown traffic could take several years.
“Some will take months, others years,” he said.