West County notebook
Charlemont real estate taxes due Feb. 1
CHARLEMONT — Taxpayers are reminded that the third-quarter payments of fiscal year 2013 real estate and personal property taxes are due by Feb. 1.
Payments are to be made out to the Town of Charlemont and mailed to: Tax Collector, P.O. Box 604, Charlemont, MA 01339.
DEP suspends fine for paperwork delays
BUCKLAND — The town and the Shelburne Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility received a suspended fine of $3,390 for delays in submitting paperwork by the state Department of Environmental Protection. But if required discharge monitoring reports and other data are sent to the environmental agency on time for the next three years, the fine will be dropped.
According to an administrative consent order signed by selectmen Tuesday night, the treatment plant was late in filing reports from March 2011 through May 2012, a biannual staffing report for 2009-2011, an annual pump station report, and biannual certification report.
Town Administrator Andrea Llamas told selectmen that the complaint has nothing to do with plant operations.
All that paperwork is now up to date, according to treatment plant manager Daniel Fleuriel.
“There were reasons that contributed to the paperwork being delayed, but there are no excuses,” he said. “We had several construction jobs that had to be done, there was the hurricane (Irene). 2011 was not a good year for us, and it was a challenge to get back out of the hole.”
BUCKLAND — A group of business tenants and members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church have asked selectmen to reconsider parking issues, now that the board has eliminated parking from the lower section of Clement Street.
Michael McCusker pointed out that the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers Business Center is completely filled, but now there is not enough parking, with the loss of about eight to 10 spaces that used to be available on Clement.
Massage therapist Cindy Johnson, who leases an office on the second floor of the Odd Fellows/McCusker’s Market building, pointed out that patients on crutches or with disabilities are finding it more difficult to find nearby parking when they come in for an appointment. She asked the board to consider making Clement Street a one-way road, which would make more space for parking.
However, a Clement Street resident said creating one-way traffic would inconvenience residents. Church parishioners said the lack of parking has caused problems for them on Saturdays, when services are held. One woman said many parishioners are getting older, and walking down the steep hill in winter can be a risk. She said church members often stay at the church for longer than two or three hours, to participate in the service, Bible studies, music and a potluck. She said the only time parking is a problem for church members is on Saturdays, which is also a busy day for the shops on State Street.
Selectmen said the decision to eliminate parking on Clement Street was based on public safety concerns about getting fire trucks and emergency vehicles up the narrow street. Also, the board pointed out that there are town parking lots on State Street and near the Trolley Museum that are relatively unused. They handed out fliers showing designated parking areas and pointed out that the Eagles’ parking lot has many spaces available for public parking, due to an agreement with the town.
Block grant submitted for Buckland, Shelburne
BUCKLAND — Following public hearings, both the Buckland and Shelburne boards of selectmen approved a Community Development Block Grant application that would provide funding for handicapped-accessible sidewalks around the Highland Village housing complex in Shelburne, and for sidewalks, drainage improvements and repaving on Sears Street in Buckland. Also, the grant seeks funding for the West County Food Pantry.
Franklin Regional Housing Authority Executive Director Robin Sherman thanked selectmen for seeking a grant for a ramp and sidewalk replacements at Highland Village, which has 46 apartments for elderly and disabled residents. Pantry coordinator Dino Schnelle said the once-a-month pantry feeds about 120 people.