Final discussion showcases nearly complete design for South Deerfield’s Leary Lot

  • The nearly complete Leary Lot design in South Deerfield. SCREENSHOT

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2023 2:20:53 PM

DEERFIELD — During this week’s third and final community discussion, residents and business owners got a chance to review the nearly complete Leary Lot designs.

A small group met with the Selectboard and Berkshire Design Group’s Jeffrey Squire to get a final look at most major aspects of the roughly 1.5-acre asphalt and dirt lot that will be transformed into a larger paved lot and green space in the center of South Deerfield.

Among the major details left to iron out are whether to designate the driveway onto Elm Street as one- or two-lane traffic, and to choose between underground infrastructure or porous asphalt for stormwater management. Those decisions and the cost estimate on stormwater management will come within the next week or so, according to Squire.

“This is key to the revitalization of downtown,” said Selectboard Chair Carolyn Shores Ness, referencing the town’s long-term plan to increase the walkability and connectivity of South Deerfield with several large projects. “I think there will be excitement and people will feel we’re committed to getting all these big ideas done.”

Key points of the near-complete plan include 56 parking spots, four new electric vehicle chargers to supplement the ones already there, pedestrian walkways, a vehicle connection to Elm Street, rain gardens, flowering trees, picnic tables, a bioswale and an entrance to Berkshire Brewing Co.’s beer garden.

Chris Curtis, a consultant working with Deerfield on its Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) projects, said the MVP grant will cover the vast majority of the green components of the lot. He added the picnic tables were donated by a local business and the town also has several bicycle racks in storage that it will be placing on the lot.

While Squire determines a price estimate for porous asphalt versus underground infrastructure, Shores Ness said she’s leaning toward the porous material because it can better handle large amounts of rain and snowmelt.

“Having a system in the ground is just asking for issues. You really want to make everything as green as possible and resilient moving forward,” Shores Ness said, adding that extreme weather events have become increasingly common. “If it gets inundated with water, this is a system that can recover faster.”

To pay for the Leary Lot project, the Selectboard previously allocated $495,954 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.

The Selectboard will most likely vote on the final design at its next meeting. Following approval, the project will have to come before the Planning Board for site plan review. Depending on the timing of the vote and site plan hearing, the project could go out to bid before winter, although Squire said breaking ground in the spring would be his estimate.

“I would love to get this done by Thanksgiving or Christmas and open up the new year,” Shores Ness said.

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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