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The town of Cheshire is considering building a shelter and putting in picnic tables where AT hikers can take a break.

Cheshire May Build Hiking Shelter for Appalachian Trail

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will look into building a structure to shelter Appalachian Trail hikers.
 
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV told the Selectmen last week that he has met with community members to discuss locating a designated area for through-hikers in town.
 
"The plan so far is to erect a structure that would shelter the hikers ... the whole nine yards," he said. "It is in its very early planning stages but could include a picnic table or two."
 
The trail passes through Cheshire and, last year, the town was designated as an Appalachian Trail Community and has met standards to become "trail friendly."
 
In the past, the former elementary school grounds was the de facto meeting area for hikers. The town even rented a portable toilet for hikers who often found shelter in St. Mary's Church.
 
St. John said they have pinpointed the area behind the Community Center on School Street as a new location. 
 
"It is directly adjacent to the trail and could serve as a place or hikers to rest," he said.
 
St. John said the project would be privately funded and would have to first go through Planning Board.
 
In other business, the Selectmen touched base with the Water Department on a plan bid for water main replacements in the Depot Street area.  
 
Water Commissioner Rick Gurney said engineering for the project is complete but the commissioners did not want to prepare bid documents if the town was not ready to resurface Depot Street.
 
"We didn't want to go out to bid and find out that you guys aren't ready because we would be throwing away roughly $5,000," Gurney said.
 
He said the project does not include street paving and so they were hoping to do their project in concert with the town.
 
Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the town does plan to overhaul Depot Street but it won't be happening this year because the town did not receive a state Complete Streets grant for the project.
 
"We didn't get the money; we didn't get the grant," she said. "It is not happening this year and I am glad you asked."
 
Francesconi said they would re-assess in the fall.
 
The Selectmen also heard from Patricia Mullin of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission about the Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation program it is administering for the town.
 
She said initially BRPC did not receive enough applications but after a townwide mailing, more inquiries came in. 
 
"We were a little bit concerned. We weren't gathering enough applications so we did a mailing," she said. "After, we got about 50 calls."
 
She did ask the board to form a citizen advisory committee to help address grievances.  
 
"In other words, if the homeowner and the contractor have a dispute or if a neighbor had a dispute with the program because of noise or whatever, we have this three-tiered system," she said.
 
She said these filed grievances are rare.
 
The town is also looking for Cheshire students to submit Memorial Day essays to be read during the town's annual Memorial Day ceremony  on May 27. 
 
Essays are due at Town Hall by May 17. All students are welcome to submit an essay and there will be a reward for those chosen.

Tags: Appalachian Trail,   

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Cheshire Will Try to Accommodate Hiker Camping

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Town officials will apply for a special permit on behalf of Appalachian Trail hikers to accommodate camping on the Cheshire School grounds.
 
A proposal to place a camping site on the town-owned land came to a halt last week when it was found to be in violation of the town's zoning. 
 
After some research, Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV told the board of Selectmen on Tuesday that he may have found a way to establish a campsite for through-hikers on a portion of the grounds of the vacant school.
 
"I think last week was good to get all of that information out so we know what the issues are but just because there are issues does not mean that there is not a path we can move forward on," St. John said.
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