|Williams College Finds Indoor Facilities for Athletes in North Adams|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff |
05:00AM / Friday, November 17, 2023
|The college is preparing to tear down the structurally unstable Towne Field House in the center of Williamstown's downtown. |
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Williams College is looking eastward for athletic facilities with the closure of the Towne Field House.
The Planning Board on Monday approved a change-of-use application for a unit at 69 Union St. to operate a fitness facility. The special permit would allow the college to extend its use of the spaces in the former Shapiro Chevrolet dealership for its athletes.
Alicia Schneider, property manager for CT Management Group, said the 8,000 square foot space had been used as a shop and storage by GEM Environmental.
"We just rented them the previous J-Star gymnastics space, so they already are in the fitness facilities that we have," she said. "This is right next door and they realized that they needed more space and when this opened up, they asked for the opportunity to also use the space."
She said there really are no neighbors who would be affected and that there was plenty of parking with 50 parking spots. The hours would be from 6 a.m. to midnight and the facility would only be open to college athletes.
The college is preparing to tear down the structurally unstable Towne Field House
in the center of Williamstown's downtown. The dome was home to the college's indoor track and field team, pre-season practices for spring sports and informal recreation. It was closed in March and the college has been considering building a temporary structure on the other side of the campus until a field house could be built.
The board also, again, approved an application from Spencer House LLC, this time for a change address. The marijuana dispensary had been approved back in 2021
with plans to transform the hall at the American Legion.
Founder and CEO Heather Anello said there were issues getting organized at the Legion post and are now planning to move into the hall at the Veterans of Foreign Wars on the Mohawk Trail.
"Our goal is to lease the banquet hall has we had once arranged with the Legion and now focus our attention there and to operate cannabis dispensary," she said. "We currently have a provisional license from the Cannabis Control Commission. That will only require a change of location from 91 American Legion drive to 593 Mohawk Trail."
Anello said the company as a women- and veteran-owned businesses qualifies as a disadvantaged business under a social equity program developed during the Baker-Polito administration. This is has allowed the state to waive some fees and strengthens the company's application as one of only two licenses in the city.
"Our focus really is alongside of the VFW to secure the needs for their future, but cannabis will provide much needed income to the VFW," she said. In addition, Spencer will subcontract out locally, hire local people and plans volunteerism within the community.
Luis Beveraggi, the VFW's quartermaster, acknowledged "it was a hard sell for older members" but that the revenue from leasing the hall will allow the post to focus on its members needs.
Anello did not have building plans but outlined the security and access to the building, including walling off the opening between the VFW and the hall.
"We definitely plan to remain compliant with all state and local laws," she said.
The change in location was approved with the condition complete building plans and renderings be submitted to the Building Department.
It wasn't the only dispensary approved — Barbara Canale-Schmidt, doing business as Topaz Enterprise LLC, was also given the OK for property located at 31 Union St., the former Grandmother's bar. The vote had been postponed
from October over questions about the proximity of Colegrove Park Elementary School.
Chair Brian Miksic said the city solicitor had confirmed the school fell outside the 500 feet limit when measured in a straight line to the school's main entrance and that with an "impassable barrier" of a fence and cliff, taking the "easy path" made it even farther away. The offices of the Northern Berkshire Supervisory Union across the street do not count as an educational facility, he said.
Board members questioned the number of dispensaries approved — Topaz would be the fourth and the city only has two licenses. One of those in use by Clear Sky, which opened in 2021.
Miksic said it was a matter of "first come first served" and that the board did not have purview over the cannabis licenses, just the special permits.
The special permit was approved 6-1 with one abstention.
In other business, a sign application for Duke's Lumber was continued with a request for a color rendering and a glamping resort on Notch Road was approved for year-round operations.
The board also approved the addition of a wireless antennae on top of Hotel Downstreet for New Cingular Wireless PCS LLC.
Attorney Edward Pare of Brown Rudnick LLP said AT&T had a gap in its coverage and the hotel was available as a location and already has Verizon antennae. The six panel antennae will be concealed in 10-foot fiberglass, "stealth," containers and will not be visible from the ground. An emergency generator will be located on the ground behind the white fence on the hotel's west side.