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BRPC Planner Eammon Coughlin discussed the priorities with the Board of Selectmen before he submits the application in a couple of weeks.

Lanesborough Applies For State Funding For Summer Street Sidewalks

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town is hoping the state will fund reconstruction of the sidewalks on Summer Street.
 
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to file an application with the state's Complete Streets program with rebuilding the sidewalks from Route 7 to the school as a top priority. The town can apply for up to $400,000 from the program per year. 
 
"The town can apply for up to $400,000 of construction funding and that project will eat up $350,000 of it," BRPC Transportation Planner Eammon Coughlin said. 
 
To fill out the application, Coughlin proposed smaller projects at North Main Street and Greylock Road, at Ore Bed and Balance Rock Roads, and installing five bike racks throughout town -- at Laston Field, Town Hall, the library, Narragansett Park, and the elementary school.
 
Coughlin said it is likely only one would be funded, and the Summer Street road has the best shot because it is a path to school and close to Town Hall where the Council on Aging has its programming — two qualifies specifically asked in the state application. 
 
"If you do get funding, the chance you get funding again the next year is slim," Coughlin said. "It seems like DOT is trying to fund each town's first application. But I do know of some towns out east that were awarded multiple times."
 
The Selectmen swapped out the proposal for intersection improvements at North Main and Greylock Road for improving the intersection at Swamp Road and Old State Road. The Selectmen felt turning the North Main and Greylock into a T intersection wouldn't be wanted by the neighbors and that the Swamp Road intersection, with a three-way stop currently, is of more importance.
 
"Swamp and Old State are probably more of a permanent solution," said Chairman John Goerlach.
 
Selectman Henry Sayers said the current Y intersection at North Main and Greylock hasn't been a problem and it doesn't have as many issues with sightlines as the Swamp Road area does. Coughlin said T intersections are safer and engineers felt the location could easily be changed. 
 
Both Swamp and Old State and Greylock and North Main were similar in price so a simple swap out in the application didn't cause any issues. The application is due to the state in two weeks.
 
For Ore Bed Road and Balance Rock Road, Coughlin said the project would include changing the turning radius, improving sightlines, and adding signage.
 
"It wouldn't be anything too crazy. We'd put up new signage encouraging people to slow down, warn people about bicycles," Coughlin said.
 
The priorities were chosen from a list of nearly two dozen BRPC had put together in consultation with town officials. Town Manager Kelly Robbins said the prioritize repairing existing infrastructure instead of building anything new.
 
"Instead of creating new infrastructure [Department of Public Works Director William Decelles] felt it was important to maintain our current infrastructure before adding more to the list," Robbins said.
 
Summer Street has been on the Board of Selectmen's radar for a long time. Three years ago engineers from Tighe and Bond had presented potential options for the roads. It ranged from repaving sections to a complete renovation of the entire road from Route 7 to Route 8. However, the price was too much for the board. 
 
While Goerlach still feels there are more inexpensive options to fix the sidewalks, he said the Department of Public Works director disagrees. He is supportive of attempting to get state money for the construction.
 
"We will put this application in and if the town is lucky you will hear back in July or August or so," Coughlin said.
 
If awarded, the town would then have to pay for the engineering work required before construction can begin. 
 
In other business, Robbins is still looking for direction as to which way the townspeople want to go regarding the police station. Goerlach is pushing for options, with quotes, to be presented to the townspeople at a special town meeting. However, Robbins wants to get the ball rolling on a feasibility study that would be needed to get state or federal funding.
 
"We need to know what the needs are for our Police Department. It shows good faith for the town, shows we are serious, it will get us more points if we need money," Robbins said.
 
She said U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Sen. Adam Hinds, and state Rep. John Barrett III are all currently looking for available funds to help the town. But, those programs would need the feasibility study completed before the town can apply.
 
The options include building new — on either land the town owns on Prospect Street, at the current station location, or at a parcel near Laston Park — renovating the current station or buying and renovating the former Vacation Village. 
 
Selectman Robert Ericson is not supportive of tearing down the current building and building new. He said that building has too much historical value to be lost.
 
"The building has been everything. It's been an American Legion building, it's been Town Hall, it's been a school, it's the history of the town," Ericson said.
 
Goerlach disagrees that tearing down and renovating should be off the table. He said the historic value has been lost through multiple renovations and without repairing the foundation, the building won't last much longer.
 
"We've got to put a building back with a good structure. Unless you put a foundation under that, you can't say it will last another 100 years," Goerlach said.
 
Ericson responded saying the structure of the building isn't in poor condition. He said there are some spots for repair but overall, the structure of the building is good and will last years into the future.
 
Sayers, meanwhile, said that given repairs needed at the school and elsewhere in town and budget increases coming, he thinks the town shouldn't be taking on too big of a project for the Police.
 
"We have to go with, I hate to say the cheapest way, the most inexpensive way," Sayers said.

Tags: complete streets,   police station,   sidewalks,   

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Innovation Center on Schedule For January Opening

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Innovation Center is still on schedule to open sometime in January.
 
The center's Executive Director Ben Sosne gave a brief update to the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority last week and said board should expect a grand opening in the first half of January.  
 
"I was just through the building and it looks fantastic," he said on Tuesday. "I am really excited to get this thing open and welcome everybody in."
 
He said in the next few months they will be moving in tenants and figuring out final specs.
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