ADAMS -- Town response to a wayward project may come to a head next month, as officials again seek to address the stalled Jones Block development project -- this time, more "aggressively."
"I think its time for the town to significantly flex its muscles," Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said at a Selectmen's meeting last week.
Butler was speaking of a Park Street building purchased in 2007 by Gerry Sanchez and Polonia Restorations under the group Samuel Adams Enterprises LLC.
The original agreement between the town and the developer outlined terms that saw a completed project by late 2009, and a 2009 town investment of more than $1 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for facade work be matched by the developer in interior work.
Early this year, growing frustration among officials prompted a flare-up of work in the building, payment of overdue taxes and a timeline of work released by the developer that detailed a potential October completion date, but work ceased shortly after and has yet to resume. Tax payments have also ended, and the developer has not responded to inquiries from the town or the tax collector.
Now the matter is scheduled to be taken up by officials at the second Selectmen's meeting in November. Their tone in discussing the matter last week indicated a different course to be taken.
"Any resources at our disposal, be it legal or political, I think we need to put tremendous
Though it has been contended that the developer met their obligation to invest into the building's interior, Butler cited additional issues.
"The intent of the project, which [the developer] acquired via procurement through the town of Adams -- a competitive bid process -- was for us to have a developed building with retail spaces and housing," Butler said. "Four years later, we do not."
Butler added, "If this project had been completed two years ago as planned, we [might have been] in a very different spot right now with some of our other downtown developments. I've always made the argument that it's all about the momentum we develop in downtown, and the key to momentum is about continuing to see positive development without losing other development. The lack of this developer's ability to finish his project has hurt our momentum."
Butler, the Community Development office and town counsel will potentially recommend a course of action to the board at the November meeting.
Selectmen's Chair Arthur "Skip" Harrington said the town should invite Sanchez to attend the November meeting, and his idea was met with agreement from the rest of the board.
"I think, just to be fair to any developer in this community, we ought to be able to hear their side," Harrington said.
Selectmen Scott Nichols said, "It'll give us an opportunity to confront the situation, and if he doesn't come, we'll pursue our options."
Attempts to reach Sanchez for comment were unsuccessful as of press time.