$7.5M to bolster infrastructure projects, workforce training in Franklin County

  • Hawley plans to use its $800,000 grant to construct a 15-foot-wide, three-sided box culvert on Route 8A near the Sears Road intersection. Town officials say the existing culvert, pictured, is undersized and floods during heavy rains. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • A nearly $2.3 million grant will support structural repairs and upgrades at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 11/7/2022 9:45:15 PM
Modified: 11/7/2022 9:44:51 PM

Nearly $7.5 million has been allocated toward 20 projects, consisting largely of infrastructure improvements and workforce training initiatives, across 12 Franklin County towns as part of the state’s Community One Stop for Growth grant program.

The grant program supports projects “that will leverage private investment, create needed housing, and help revitalize our downtowns and main streets,” state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said in a statement. The program’s grants come through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and MassDevelopment.

This round’s largest award, of nearly $2.3 million, will benefit the Shelburne Falls Fire District’s efforts to make critical structural repairs to the Bridge of Flowers. Grants will also support projects in Buckland, Shelburne, Charlemont, Colrain, Erving, Greenfield, Hawley, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, Warwick and Whately.

Shelburne Falls Fire District

Although the grant denotes Buckland as the recipient of a nearly $2.3 million award, the money more specifically benefits the Shelburne Falls Fire District, a separate legal entity that owns the Bridge of Flowers. The money will “fund structural repairs and upgrades ... and ensure the longevity” of the bridge, the grant announcement states.

“The Shelburne Falls Fire District is very excited and grateful to have been awarded a MassWorks grant to support the Shelburne Falls Bridge Improvement Project for the Bridge of Flowers,” Jan Morin, the district’s administrative assistant, wrote in an email. “As we are a small district, to be able to come up with the money to do the necessary structural repairs needed to maintain the integrity of the bridge and ensure the ability to continue to deliver water to the Buckland side of the river would be virtually impossible.”

“The project has been difficult because it was unclear what funding source to pursue,” Jessica Atwood, economic development program manager with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, said in a statement. “The (Bridge of Flowers) is a transportation asset as a pedestrian walkway, a tourism asset with thousands of visitors annually from around the world, and it holds critical water infrastructure for the town of Buckland. Applying through the Community One Stop for Growth application portal was ideal to secure funding.”

According to Morin, a 2020 report from Westfield-based consulting firm Tighe & Bond found stress cracks in the structure and determined that the north spandrel wall needs to be stabilized. There has not been a major structural improvement project on the bridge since the early 1980s, she noted.

“Fortunately, the bridge structure is not an immediate hazard, but issues like these should be taken care of before they become more serious,” Morin explained. “Plus the bridge carries the water main for the Buckland side of the village, so it is an opportunity to upgrade that infrastructure at the same time.”

Design, engineering and permitting work needs to be completed before a project timeline is set, according to Morin. The Shelburne Falls Fire District must also conduct a public procurement process to hire consultants and contractors.


Three projects were funded in Charlemont, with the most major involving decking improvements to the Long Bridge over the Deerfield River on Route 8A. The project received a $500,000 allotment.

Town Administrator Sarah Reynolds described the bridge as “a major connecting point” to Hawley that some motorists have avoided for years due to the deck’s condition.

“It is littered with potholes, basically,” she explained, citing a “definite need” for the project. “We need to do a more permanent solution than patching the holes.”

While a repair project had been scheduled by the state Department of Transportation for 2027, Reynolds said the bridge would not last in usable condition until then. Although the town patches potholes on the deck yearly, a full project hasn’t been carried out in “recent memory.”

Reynolds said she contacted MassDOT for information about a prospective contractor. Once a contractor has been chosen, the town will be “ready to go,” she projected.


Warwick received $1 million to purchase and install guardrails on several roads around town through the MassWorks Infrastructure program. Highway Superintendent Larry Delaney said the main focus will be on Wendell, Athol and Northfield roads. A particular place he highlighted is just past the Moss Brook bridge on Wendell Road, where the shoulder drops immediately.

“Places that are dangerous,” Delaney said. “Some of the them in the past, there’s obvious signs that they had some guardrails, but over the years they’ve deteriorated.”

Guardrails, he said, may not seem it, but they are “huge money” that are “beyond the reach of the small towns” here in Franklin County. He explained these costs come from securing materials, including the expensive “end treatments,” which are designed to absorb vehicle impacts where guardrails begin and end.

Delaney estimated the town, through a contractor, will be installing approximately 14,000 feet of guardrails. The grant will not be disbursed until fiscal year 2024 on July 1 and work will begin once the town goes through the bid process.

“It’ll be a lot different than it is now,” he said, “but that’s to keep the motorists safe.”


Hawley received $800,000 for its shovel-ready culvert project. The town plans to use the funding to construct a 15-foot-wide, three-sided box culvert on Route 8A near the Sears Road intersection.

“It should be ready as soon as we have a contractor,” said Lloyd Crawford, a Hawley resident who submitted the grant application.

Town officials say the existing culvert is undersized and floods during heavy rains. This culvert caused serious damage to the road during Hurricane Irene in 2011.

This new culvert will meet Massachusetts stream crossing standards, which require new culverts to have a natural bottom. It was first engineered by the town in 2018, and received permitting in 2019, according to Crawford.


Colrain will repave about 4 miles of Greenfield Road with the $1 million it received. Officials plan to repave the road from the town center to the Shelburne town line.

“It was a timely receipt,” Town Administrator Kevin Fox said, noting that the road is slowly deteriorating and it needed to be repaved before it “became too bad.”

Fox said he applied unsuccessfully for this grant on three other occasions.

“The program is great for small towns,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this otherwise.”

Although Fox said $1 million may not be enough, he said the town has “some contingency available.” Construction is set to finish by next fall.


The city received two tranches of money, with $100,000 coming through the Urban Agenda Grant Program and $25,000 through the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative.

Greenfield Community and Economic Development Director MJ Adams said the $100,000 will go toward the Stone Soup Culinary Institute, funding staff and training costs. The Stone Soup Culinary Institute aims to teach culinary arts and kitchen management skills over the course of a 12-week program.

Adams said the culinary institute will work with people making their way back into the community out of prison, as they learn skills that can be used in restaurants, schools and hospitals.

“Restaurants and businesses are having a hard time hiring people,” Adams said. “This will build a skill set for people transitioning back into the community. … The goal is to get them back and connected to the workforce to help them continue to move forward with their lives.”

The Urban Agenda Grant Program, Adams said, is “very flexible” in the sense that the city can define what the funding will be used for.

“We take a look around at what’s bubbling … and we’re able to support and write the grant,” she said. “This felt like a very worthy one since we’re very focused on helping businesses find what they need.”

The $25,000 will go toward a downtown parking study, which Adams said will help identify downtown parking needs ahead of a planned 2027 reconstruction.

“There’s a lot of things happening on our Main Street,” Adams said, citing the new library and the skate park. “The idea is to have a parking management study to take a look at what we’ve got, how we use it. … That work will be done just as we start to ramp up and make decisions about what the Main Street roadway is going to look like.”

She said the city wants to finish the parking study “as soon as possible” in hopes of coming up with information that will help develop the downtown, while still “retaining that small-city flavor.”

“There’s a multitude of things happening in our downtown,” Adams said. “We want to get our arms around the data and make the best use of the space we have.”

Greenfield Community College

Greenfield Community College also received a nearly $100,000 windfall through the Urban Agenda Grant Program, which Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Max Fripp said will allow the college to launch the “Route 2 Innovation Corridor.”

With hubs at Greenspace CoWork in Greenfield and LaunchSpace in Orange, Fripp said the $98,648 grant will help the college “advance policies and systems work, as well as on-the-ground programming” by focusing on education, workforce development and economic development in Franklin County and the North Quabbin.

At these workspaces, GCC will offer 10 free entrepreneurial memberships to small business owners and entrepreneurs, which will get them access to the spaces, as well as training services.

“They will get free training, coaching, consulting and technical support that would allow them to further develop, test and launch their idea,” Fripp explained. “We can take what we’re doing in Greenfield and bring these kinds of programs and services to the North Quabbin. … It will be a real equalizer and economic driver for that region.”

Applications for the program will open “soon” and additional information will be on the school’s website at gcc.mass.edu. Fripp added that this new program will connect all of the college’s programs, including the Take the Floor pitch competition and The Goods Pop-Up Shop, together with a common thread.

“The big thing it does for GCC is it packages our programs so people can see how all these pieces connect,” Fripp said. “From the workshop, to Take the Floor, to bringing your business to life with The Goods.”

To view the full list of Community One Stop for Growth grant awards, visit bit.ly/3UFLYDz.


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