Infrastructure improvements in the works for 2021

  • Tree House Brewing Co. will be moving into the South Deerfield building that housed the Channing Bete Co., which closed in 2019. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Conway officials plan to find ways to mitigate increased flooding concerns from the South River in 2021. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The proposed site plan for a Dollar General store on Routes 5 and 10 in South Deerfield, which is not to scale. Contributed image

  • The new year will bring the start of the road reconstruction project on North Main Street in Sunderland. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/14/2021 6:20:57 PM

Editor’s note: This week and last week, the Greenfield Recorder has been running a series of articles on what residents can likely expect in 2021. This final installment focuses on the Franklin County towns of Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately.

After months of conducting town business remotely, the new year will hopefully offer a chance for the communities in the southern part of Franklin County to return to “a normal rhythm.”

“That’s not just the town (government),” said Conway Town Administrator Tom Hutcheson. “That’s everybody figuring out how to live outside Zoom again.”

The new year will bring the start of the road reconstruction project on North Main Street and breaking ground on the affordable housing project in Sunderland; as well as continued progress on the highway facility in Conway, and finding ways to mitigate increased flooding concerns from the South River.

In Deerfield, the debate over the proposed development of a Dollar General store on Routes 5 and 10 will continue into 2021. Meetings for the proposed park and recreation area on North Main Street in Deerfield are also expected to continue this year.

And in Whately, Town Administrator Brian Domina said the major infrastructure project for 2021 — combining the Whately Water District and Whately Water Department — will require construction of a pumping station, which recently received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

This year will also mark Whately’s 250th anniversary.

Conway

In addition to the expected completion of the Highway Maintenance Facility in 2021, Hutcheson said the town is hoping to receive a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for necessary work on Delabarre Avenue by the South River.

“It’s a fairly steep slope,” he said. “We’re looking to rearrange the drainage on that road, so we can avoid the possibility of undermining the road and … the road falling down into the river.”

He said the town has been trying to advance this project for years, and “it looks as if it’s finally moving forward.”

“That would be great if that happened, but it’s not a done deal yet,” Hutcheson said.

He said the town is also working with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) on river corridor planning. This could include working on new zoning bylaws, for example, or finding designs for storm and flood mitigation.

And finally, the town plans to kick off its participation in the carbon credit market.

“We’re working with the town of Williamstown, who’s really spearheading this, and trying to get at least 1,500 acres in Conway — a combo of public and private land — so we can get those (acres) under forest stewardship plans and participate in this market, where people will be paid to follow the forest stewardship plan,” Hutcheson explained

He said it’s one tool to “ratchet down the excess carbon in the atmosphere.”

“We’re trying to make it work for Conway landowners who might want to participate,” Hutcheson said. “That’s quite new.”

Sunderland

Town Administrator Geoffrey Kravitz said construction is expected to start in 2021 on the 33 units of affordable housing on North Main Street. The development will be called Sanderson Place, he said.

Also on tap is the reconstruction of North Main Street from Clay Brook to Route 116, which will include repaving the road, adding bicycle lanes, widening sidewalks and doing storm drain replacement along the length of the road.

“(North Main Street) reconstruction and Sanderson Place have been in the works for a while,” Kravitz said. “So it’s pretty exciting they’re actually kicking off and going to happen in 2021.”

Additionally, the town plans to add sidewalks along South Silver Lane at the intersection of Old Amherst Road using the Complete Streets Funding Program grant it was awarded.

“It’s going to widen the sidewalk along the west side of South Main Street so it matches the east side of South Main (Street),” Kravitz said. “It’s also going to add some bicycle accommodations to Falls Road.”

Another major project this year will be the creation of a shaded seating area, and kayak and baseball storage sheds at Riverside Park — projects made possible by a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant. The grant will also help fund accessibility improvements.

The town plans to pursue Community Preservation Act funding to install an irrigation system at the park, too.

“I think one of the things I ... hope to do again in 2021 is look at our internal policies and procedures and how we can improve them,” said Kravitz, who has been Sunderland’s town administrator since February 2020. “I think being new — taking an outsider’s perspective in how we accomplish what we do — is one of my goals, too.”

Deerfield

Upgrades at the Wastewater Treatment Plant will continue this year as one of the town’s major projects.

According to Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel, bidding for the work at the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Sunderland Road is expected to go out soon.

“We should have everything ready to go out to bid in a couple of weeks,” he said. “We’re working with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) on all of those requirements.”

The town will also begin looking at the plant in Old Deerfield, he said, as the town must decide whether to shut it down and reroute the South Deerfield plant to serve all areas of town, or to rebuild a new one.

The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, will also continue to be a constant matter of discussion — in particular, getting ready for vaccination clinics when the vaccine becomes available to the general public. The town hosted drive-thru flu clinics at the Deerfield Highway Garage in anticipation of the vaccine distribution.

In general, the town is looking forward to welcoming new businesses in town — particularly Tree House Brewing Co., which announced in November it would be opening a location at the former Channing Bete building.

McDaniel said the town will look at its town building assessments — Town Hall and the South County Senior Center — and consider what to do with them, whether that means re-purposing or doing more significant construction.

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




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