McGovern earmarks $675K for Avenue A streetscape upgrades in Montague

  • Sidewalks on Avenue A on the even side of the street approaching the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sidewalks on Avenue A on the even side of the street in front of the former Hubie’s Tavern in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sidewalks on Avenue A on the odd side of the street near the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sidewalks on Avenue A on the odd side of the street near the Shady Glen diner in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2022 4:19:27 PM

MONTAGUE — U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern has filed a $675,000 federal earmark request for streetscape improvements on Avenue A, as announced by Town Administrator Steve Ellis this week.

While not a guarantee for funding, the earmark is considered by Ellis to be a vital step toward the town’s ongoing Avenue A Streetscape Improvement Project. In an email to the Selectboard, Ellis explained that this would “restore an (Americans with Disabilities Act) ADA-compliant, pedestrian-oriented streetscape in the heart of Turners Falls, which is Montague’s retail, dining and entertainment center, and a state-designated Cultural District.” Ellis anticipates confirmation on whether Montague will receive the money between January and February 2023.

Specifically, Ellis wrote, the project predominantly entails sidewalk renovations in an effort to “improve the visual appeal and walkability of the village center.”

“The scope of this bid-ready project includes replacing the aged brick sidewalks between First and Third streets on the even side, and between First and Second streets on the odd side of the avenue,” he detailed. “Decorative brick features will be retained, but integrated into a concrete concourse to enhance longevity/accessibility. Pedestrian-scale lighting will be installed between First and Second streets to match the existing downtown scheme.”

McGovern’s earmark for Montague is one of his 15 requests for the upcoming fiscal year, the maximum number permitted per representative by the House Appropriations Committee.

Despite being in limited company across the state as a community to be earmarked, Ellis said the town had initially requested $300,000 more in federal funding.

“The town had requested $975,000 for the project and, if the funding comes through, will need to decide whether to supplement it” using Community Development Block Grant funding or another appropriation “to complete the full project as planned or to reduce its scope to match the available resources,” Ellis wrote.

With no certainty that funding will come, though, Ellis argued that Montague might as well remain engaged.

“I would say that it’s really important to be in the game because if you aren’t, there’s no way to have a chance of winning,” he said during Monday’s Selectboard meeting. “This is Montague putting effort into things that could pay off, but we don’t have any guarantee that they will.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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