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Greenfield Road easements acquired

Greenfield Rd in Montague.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Greenfield Rd in Montague. Recorder/Paul Franz

MONTAGUE — Selectmen have finished the business of acquiring easements for the Greenfield Road reconstruction project, signing the order of taking and approving small payments totaling $11,800 to 24 of the affected property owners.

The $5.8 million project is to be funded by state and federal tax dollars and directed by the state Department of Transportation, rebuilding the two miles of shattered road from the Canal Side Rail Trail bike path intersection to Hatchery Road.

Negotiations with property owners fell to the town.

Monday, the Board of Selectmen accepted easement donations from six property owners — including Selectman Michael Nelson, who abstained from the vote — and signed off on payments ranging from $100 to $4,800.

Town Planner Walter Ramsey said payments were based on the assessed value of the property and sale prices in Montague and Gill.

Selectmen referred questions about how the easements will affect tax value to the Board of Assessors.

At a public hearing in June, property owners were evenly divided between opposition, approval and silence. Some objected to what they said amounts to the permanent taking of their land with the placement of retaining walls on some properties, while others supported any improvement to the cracked and gouged surface.

Monday’s meeting saw fewer than a dozen abutters, with questions about details specific to their properties.

The DOT does not plan to replace the bridge at the Montague Center end, restoring the now quiet street to a busy thoroughfare, as had been discussed in years past. A later phase in design would rebuild Hatchery Road and reconstruct the long-defunct bridge over the railroad for bicycle, pedestrian and emergency traffic only. The additional work would extend the restoration 0.8 miles to Turners Falls Road and the start of the northern portion of Greenfield Road.

Versions of the project have been in various stages of abortive development for about three decades.

Town meeting voters in May of 2013 authorized the Board of Selectmen to buy, accept or take easements for the project.

The construction could begin as early as this fall, Ramsey said.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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