Mudslide fix to start at Franklin County Fairgrounds 

  • Franklin County Fairgrounds. STAFF FILE PHOTO / MARY BYRNE

 Staff Writer
Published: 10/4/2021 5:04:21 PM

GREENFIELD – After years of planning and fundraising, the mudslide remediation project at Franklin County Fairgrounds is scheduled to begin Friday morning. 

The occasion will be marked with a private groundbreaking ceremony, attended by members of the Franklin County Fairgrounds, local and state officials, and the contractor for the project, Western Earthworks of Florence. 

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for many years,” said Franklin County Fairgrounds President Mike Nelson. “It’s like a complete fairytale to me that it’s actually coming to life.”

The project, which is estimated to take about four weeks to complete, involves stabilizing a failing embankment of the Franklin County Fairgrounds via repair to three eroding gullies, installing stormwater drains on the embankment, replacing damaged wetlands and replanting fallen vegetation, according to a press release from Nelson. 

“When this project is completed, the Franklin County Technical School horticulture program is going to … plant 50 trees at the fairgrounds in the mudslide area to help stabilize that, as part of their educational curriculum,” he said. 

Nelson said he spent many months over the last year “nervous about how the project was going to happen.”

“Nobody knew what the pandemic was going to hold, and in some way, we still don't because it’s still evolving,” he said.  

The $260,000 project is being funded by a $103,000 grant from U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, in addition to $90,000 raised by private donors, which includes Greenfield Savings Bank and Greenfield Cooperative Bank. The project is about $67,000 short of its goal, Nelson said. 

“If we don’t have the funds raised, we are lined up to secure a loan with Greenfield Savings Bank,” Nelson said. “That is our fallback. … That’s something we’re really trying to avoid as we focus on post-pandemic recovery.”

Fundraisers continue to be held to raise money toward the project, according to Nelson. Light up the Night in November, for example, will be a fundraiser for the project. Last year, the event raised $13,000 toward the mudslide. 

“We’re very grateful for any community support we’re able to garner,” he said. 

He noted that funds raised will also go toward the re-vegetation that will follow the construction portion of the project. 

“The fact it is in fact happening now and 75% of the funding in place — it’s absolutely exhilarating to be entering this phase,” Nelson said. 

 Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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