Charlemont receives $500K from state to boost outdoor recreation

  • Jon Schaefer, owner of Berkshire East Mountain Resort, reacts to an announcement by Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, of a $500,000 grant for outdoor recreation in Charlemont on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announces a $500,000 grant for outdoor recreation to Charlemont on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announces a $500,000 grant for outdoor recreation for the town of Charlemont at the Shunpike Rest Area, nestled between Route 2 and the Deerfield River, on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announced the $500,000 grant for outdoor recreation for the town of Charlemont during a gathering at the Shunpike Rest Area on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2022 4:06:38 PM

CHARLEMONT — State Sen. Adam Hinds announced a $500,000 grant to benefit Charlemont’s outdoor recreation during a brief ceremony Thursday morning.

The ceremony, which took place at the Shunpike Rest Area on Route 2 and lasted around 10 minutes, featured Hinds, Selectboard Chair Marguerite Willis and Berkshire East Mountain Resort owner Jon Schaefer commenting on the grant’s significance.

Charlemont is often considered a hub for outdoor activities in Franklin County. Among the town’s recreational opportunities are whitewater rafting, downhill skiing, zip-lining, mountain biking, hiking and camping.

Hinds, D-Pittsfield, secured the funding through amendments as part of a recently signed bill allocating federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, according to his office. The funding is an allotment from the $98.9 million designated to support local and regional COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery initiatives.

While specific projects the funding will support have not yet been selected, Willis said, the financing enables Charlemont to “once again be a thriving place to live.”

Hinds, a Democrat who is running for lieutenant governor, said the “exciting day” is a product of the administration’s commitment to providing holistic aid to Massachusetts.

“What are we doing to invest in every corner of the commonwealth experiencing economic downturn?” Hinds recalled state officials pondering.

He continued by recognizing that Franklin County’s population decrease has likely been perpetuated by a resource shortage.

“It doesn’t seem like a coincidence when we lose basic infrastructure,” he said.

Willis said no specific outdoor recreation projects have been determined yet as recipients of the funding. She noted that in the spring, the town will host public meetings as a follow-up to a recent economic development study in pursuit of a determination.

“When Adam (Hinds) says exciting things are happening, the public really has no idea how many things are set in motion,” Willis said of the possibilities.

Regardless of what the money will be put toward specifically, the consensus Thursday was that the town is naturally well equipped as a recipient of such an investment.

“We have so many natural resources around us that are great for recreation,” Schaefer said, highlighting the river access, hiking trails, biking opportunities and other natural attractions in the area.

Schaefer added that the prominence of recreational opportunities in Charlemont allows for more than just an exciting place to live.

“Outdoor recreation is the future of new jobs, families and new people who have moved to the area,” he said.

Although attendees expressed gratitude for receiving $500,000 in grant funding, they maintained that receiving even more money would be worthwhile.

“We’re going to push for more to follow,” Schaefer said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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