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Northampton mayor launches monthly chats over coffee

NORTHAMPTON — Residents interested in chatting up in the mayor in an informal environment will have several opportunities to do so in the coming months.

Mayor David J. Narkewicz is set to host the first in a series of monthly coffee hours next week when he gathers on the porch of the Florence Civic Center. The gatherings will offer a chance to ask the mayor about a variety of topics.

The coffee hours will be held on the second Tuesday of the month from 8 to 9 a.m., with the first one scheduled for next Tuesday at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park St.

Other coffee hours scheduled through the rest of the year will take place Aug. 12 at The Roost, 1 Market St.; Sept. 9 at the Burger King community room, 344 King St.; Oct. 14 at Tobin Manor, 56 Maple St.; Nov. 18 at River Valley Market, 330 N. King St.; and Dec. 9 at Cup & Top Cafe, 1 North Main St.

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Sealing street cracks

Coming off a terrible winter for potholes, the city’s Department of Public Works launched its annual crack-sealing program late last week in hopes of extending the lives of many city streets.

The goal behind the sealing is to keep water from getting into the cracks, where it can freeze and break up the pavement, causing potholes and other damage. The sealing began Friday on Route 66 and will continue over the next several months, depending on weather.

Crack-Sealing Inc., of Raynham, was recently awarded a $133,000 contract to complete the work. The city will use $100,000 in so-called Chapter 90 money from the state to pay for the work to be done on portions of 48 city streets, with the balance of the contract coming from the city’s general fund to fill cracks in several city-owned parking lots, said DPW Director Edward S. Huntley.

The crack sealing will take place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., with one travel lane open at all times to maintain traffic flow. The work will not occur if the pavement is wet or if wet weather is predicted, or if it is extremely hot.

Did your street make the list? See a map of the Northampton DPW’s plan to address road cracks at GazetteNET.com.

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‘Flats’ building at Village Hill

The building continues at Village Hill Northampton.

MassDevelopment, the quasi-public agency overseeing development of the former state hospital grounds, announced last month that it has sold a half-acre parcel in the center of Village Hill’s north campus to Wright Builders Inc. The Northampton construction company will use the land for the second phase of its previously announced 28-unit townhouse complex called The Upper Ridge.

The $10 million project will include a total of seven buildings, five of which would contain two-story town houses, with the remaining two buildings featuring three floors of single-level space known as “flats.” The complex is being built on a 2.5-acre site between Moser Street and Ford Crossing and on both sides of Village Hill Road.

The project’s second phase will include construction of a flats building on Village Hill Road and a duplex on Musante Drive. Wright Builders began construction May 5 and expects to complete the buildings within the year, MassDevelopment said in a press release.

The first phase included a four-unit town-home building with frontage on Beech Tree Park to the east.

The idea of a flat is new to the area. In essence, instead of traditional town houses that include two stories of side-by-side living space, flats are contained on a single floor and stacked on top of each other. The project is estimated to be complete in early 2017.

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Florence handicapped parking

The number of handicapped parking spaces in downtown Florence is about to double — to two.

At the request of the Commission on Disabilities, the City Council last month signed off on several ordinance amendments allowing the city to create a handicapped space on Maple Street in front of Bird’s Store at 94 Maple St.

Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne L. LaBarge said many elderly and disabled people have requested such a space for as long as two years. The space, once created this summer, will be only the second one in downtown Florence. The other space is on Keyes Street next to Florence Savings Bank.

“People are going to be very, very happy about this,” said LaBarge, who serves as the council liaison to the Commission on Disabilities.

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