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Middle Road won't be part of the debt exclusion funds. Instead, officials are waiting on a $1 million grant to address the deteriorating roadway.

Clarksburg Officials Approve Road Projects From $1M Borrowing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Officials are hoping to address some of the town's roads by this fall — but more likely it will be spring before paving can begin. 
Road Foreman Kyle Hurlbut has been chomping at the bit to get bids out for shimming and paving on three roads: Henderson, School and Gleason. But, he said, he wanted to make sure the Select Board would endorse his choices since it would be coming out of the $1 million borrowing authorized earlier this year. 
"I want your approval to move forward on least my debt exclusion stuff. I'd like to go to bid on this road work," he said. "I was at all these meetings and everybody had to be on the same page for the debt exclusion."
Hurlbut wanted residents to see that the money they authorized was being put to good use otherwise, he said, they might not be willing to provide more in the future. 
But what won't be getting done is a widening of the south end of Middle Road from the four corners to the pump station. The board at a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon voted to return a $77,838 Complete Streets grant back to the state and hold off on paving. 
The Finance Committee on Monday had endorsed returning the grant after Hurlbut explained that the town was short about $50,000 to do the full project. 
The Complete Streets grant was only for specific aspects — such as the widening and the outside white line — but couldn't be used for other issues such as drainage or center lines. The town had been planning to put its state Chapter 90 road funds toward the project. The original estimate had been about $210,000 but the lowest bid had come in $275,878 for 1,500 feet of road. 
"We would go into our Chapter 90, but we would drain it," Hurlbut told the committee Monday. "And then I don't have any money if there's an emergency in this town. It doesn't make any sense."
He gave the same scenario to the Select Board on Wednesday with the options to add the extra funds, just do the paving to continue road maintenance or walk away completely. The board determined that it was better to put the road funds elsewhere. 
"So, the only reason we're going to do that was because we got the grant?" asked board member Jeffrey Levanos. "Why do we have to do it at all?"
Hurlbut said the town already had $10,000 in design and bid documents into the project and it had been approved by the state. There was also the option to ask the state for a grant extension and rebid it, he said, but noted that even the town's state contact thought the bids were coming in "ridiculously high."
But he and the board members considered the cost a lot for only 1,500 feet of road and Hurlbut said that section had last been done in 2006.
"I think we can take that money and use it somewhere else," said Chairman Ronald Boucher. Levanos agreed, saying he hated throwing away the $10,000 but it didn't make sense move forward.
The decision leaves the town with about $260,000 in Chapter 90 money. Hurlbut said he'd come back with a plan of where to best use it.
The board also signed off on Hurlbut's plans to use the town's $500,000 from the borrowing for an addition to the town garage at $125,000 to house some of the newer and expensive highway equipment; and shim and paving on Henderson Road ($188,000), School Street ($68,000) and Gleason Street ($65,000). 
Hurlbut said the pre-bid estimates had been worked out with Foresight Services, the town's engineers, but there was no guarantee they could come in at that price since other road projects had been coming in high. Any balance left over would be put toward repairs of West Road. 
Boucher said the paperwork is being set for the borrowing and the total amount should be available by the first week in October. 
The town is also awaiting word on a STRAP grant, or Small Town Road Assistance Program grant through the MassWorks Infrastructure program, for the north end of Middle Road that is in particularly poor condition and prompted a large number of complaints this past spring. The up to $1 million grant would be used to address the roadway from Wood Road to River Road. 

Tags: debt exclusion,   paving,   road project,   

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Clarksburg Property Owners Will Feel Impact of Debt Exclusion

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Homeowners will see their property tax rise an average of $350 in fiscal 2020.
The Select Board on Wednesday approved a single tax rate of $17.89 per $1,000 valuation, up nearly $2 over last year's rate of $15.99.
The 11 percent jump in the tax rate is largely because of the $1 million borrowing approved at town meeting in May. The borrowing to address a number of capital projects is excluded from Proposition 2 1/2 but the tax impact will only last five years.
Assessor Ross Vivori has calculated that the average tax bill will rise $354.53 based on a comparison of last year's and this year's tax rate and house values. The value of the average single-family home increased slightly from $166,606.54 to $168,635.94, a difference of about $2,000. 
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