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Editorial: At a crossroads in Colrain

Colrain is squarely at a crossroads.

The community must decide whether it is worth a hefty financial investment, some $4 million, to build a sewer system for the village center, one that would serve the 51 properties there. The answer lies in part in the town’s finances but also what residents see as its future.

Either direction means significant change.

The town can, for example, leave it to individual property owners to figure out their own solutions to waste disposal, most likely replacement septic systems. While that relieves the taxpayers from a larger burden, it doesn’t ensure the town’s future. Colrain has already seen situations where trouble with existing systems has hindered renovation of an apartment building. And anticipation that there will be problems can scare off would-be buyers.

This means in all likelihood that there would be fewer and fewer properties that could be used, leaving the center less populated. That may be OK for those folks who aren’t worried about what the village looks like or whether there’s any kind of activity in the center. But for residents who see a village center as a place of commerce, of socializing and of part of the town’s identity, then heading in this direction isn’t preferred or beneficial to the community.

The other answer is to fund a sewer system. As selectmen and others in town heard from Daniel R. Lawrence, an engineer working on the issue, the town has some options in this regard, from building its own wastewater treatment plant to trying to develop a community septic system to tying into the wastewater treatment plant that is being run by Barnhardt Manufacturing. All these possibilities also come with concerns and costs.

Connecting to the Barnhardt plant, however, seems to chart a course that’s more down the middle. Yes, it will still cost millions, but it will provide an upside for possible growth and redevelopment in the center. And for those residents who see value in having a thriving center, then it’s the kind of investment Colrain shouldn’t be saying “no” to.

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