Erving approves new sidewalks, three other articles at Special Town Meeting

Staff Writer
Published: 10/22/2019 6:47:15 PM

ERVING — Special Town Meeting voters passed all four articles on the warrant Monday night, all with minimal discussion except for an article on paying for new sidewalks, which provoked several strong opinions.

The article proposed spending $200,000 out of the town’s capital stabilization fund for new sidewalks around River, Warner and Strachan streets. Selectboard Chair Jacob Smith described it as a “‘complete the streets’ approach to that neighborhood.”

The town also has about $520,000 set aside for the project so far, of which about $320,000 came from the state.

This sidewalk project coincides somewhat with the state’s ongoing work on the section of Route 63 in Erving. With another sidewalk restoration project in the town’s sights for the future, all sidewalks in the Ervingside section of town could be restored within the next three years, Administrative Coordinator Bryan Smith said.

But new sidewalks proved to be a bit controversial among voters. When the funding article came to the Special Town Meeting floor, a few people spoke up against it, suggesting that putting sidewalks around Renovators Supply Manufacturing, which is at the corner of River and Strachan streets, would be dangerous for truck drivers, and might cause accidents that the town might somehow be legally responsible for. Claude Jeanloz, the owner of Renovators Supply Manufacturing, said that the whole company is against the new sidewalks.

Former Selectboard member Scott Bastarache, who was in the crowd as a voter, piped in that truck drivers have to be specially licensed to drive commercial trucks, and therefore ought to know how to navigate a sidewalk. He added that the safety of pedestrians should be prioritized over the convenience of a business.

When the vote was taken, the required two-thirds majority was easily achieved, as judged by Town Moderator Richard Peabody.

Other articles

The following three articles were also approved:

■To pay bills from the 2019 fiscal year in the amount of $4,090 that came in after the start of the present 2020 fiscal year;

■To order a feasibility study for a code-compliant office space for public works departments, expected to cost $15,000;

■And to allow utilities to be installed for the Senior and Community Center and the new Erving Public Library.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.


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