Senior Center, Police Station among projects on tap for West County in 2020

  • The Senior Center in the Masonic building in Shelburne Falls serves residents of Shelburne, Buckland and Ashfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Engineers will be sharing designs for work on Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls with town officials, residents and business owners in 2020. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Finding a tenant or tenants for Heath’s shuttered elementary school is a priority for the town in 2020. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/9/2020 5:45:46 PM

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series regarding what residents should expect in their communities in 2020. Look for a final story about what to expect in Greenfield in 2020 in Saturday’s edition.

While Shelburne prepares for the completion of its new Police Station in the former Notion to Quilt building and continues talks about what to do concerning its shared Senior Center, officials will also be talking in 2020 about infrastructure upgrades to Bridge Street and how to go about preserving and archiving town records.

Record-keeping

Town Clerk Joe Judd said a big problem with Shelburne and other small towns is that they have records dating back hundreds of years, but don’t have a safe way to store them.

“The town’s records are important assets,” he said. “You can replace a building or a road or highway equipment, but you can’t replace records. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. We have to do this so people can access them in 50 years.”

Judd said he’ll be asking the town to include money in the budget this year to start imaging. It would be a multi-year project.

Infrastructure

Grant writer Linda Overing said the town received a grant to hire an engineer to explore what underground infrastructure needs upgrades, including water and sewer lines and drainage. The engineer will also assess needed repairs to sidewalks and roads.

Overing said engineers will be sharing designs for work on Bridge Street from the Deerfield River to Mechanic Street with town officials, residents and business owners. She said Shelburne already has a grant for improvements from the upper end of Deerfield Avenue to the Bridge Street intersection, so that work will begin when the weather is conducive.

“We’ll need multiple grants for this work,” she said. “We don’t want to do a lot of above-ground work until we’ve done the underground work.”

Police Station

Town officials expect the Police Station will be ready for police to move in as early as mid-February, if there aren’t any delays. Last year, voters approved the purchase of the former Notion to Quilt building at 623 Mohawk Trail for $350,000, and to spend up to $100,000 to convert it into the Police Station.

The article townspeople approved authorizes the Selectboard to take out a 10-year loan for the mortgage. The additional $100,000 for renovations is paying for a new furnace for the building, security doors, electrical upgrades, minor roof repairs, furnishings and two accessible bathrooms. The town has also been applying for grants to offset part or most of the renovation costs.

Town Administrator Terry Narkewicz said Shelburne voters will also have the opportunity at the end of this month to spend a $1 million grant from the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to reconstruct Little Mohawk Road.

Senior Center

A committee continues to meet to discuss options for what to do about the Senior Center, which is shared by Shelburne, Buckland and Ashfield.

Senior Center Expansion Committee Chair Sylvia Smith said a survey sent to center members in November revealed that people overwhelmingly want to expand the center they are in at the Masonic building on Main Street in Shelburne Falls.

Smith said a professional planning coordinator/project manager has been hired and will be presenting its findings this year. She said the committee would like to bring the information to Annual Town Meeting in May, either to discuss the information or possibly vote on whether to buy the building and expand there.

“We’re just entering this phase, so we’ll need to decide who is going to own the building, if that’s what is chosen,” she said.

Smith said discussions are ongoing, and noted that Ashfield’s concern has been that it wants some programming to be located in Ashfield. Some of that has already happened, so she doesn’t see that as a major obstacle.

Heath — Broadband, school arrangements, energy upgrades and grant funding

In neighboring Heath, town officials will continue working on the town’s broadband build-out. Selectboard Chair Brian DeVriese said he expects that will happen by early in 2021, if not by the end of 2020.

DeVriese said finding a tenant or tenants for the town’s shuttered elementary school will also be a priority this year. The town uses the school for meetings and for an after-school program — Heath students currently pay tuition to attend Hawlemont Regional Elementary School — but the town would like to rent space to interested parties.

The town will continue to talk with Hawlemont about regionalization, DeVriese said, instead of tuition. He said that probably won’t happen until at least the fall of 2021, though.

The town will also continue to make progress with some of its Green Community projects, including installing LED lighting, upgrades to insulation in town buildings and obtaining solar-powered heat pumps.

DeVriese said Heath will also be trying to obtain a MassWorks Small Town Rural Assistance Program (STRAP) grant that would provide $1 million for paving roads throughout town. He said the town has been denied funding the last two years, but hopes 2020 will be the year.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.




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