The former Water Department building is demolished. The Selectmen voted last year to have it removed.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Father Tom Appalachian Trail campsite is coming along with a new fence slated to be installed in the coming weeks
"There might be one other campsite like this in a town between Georgia and Maine on the whole AT so this is a unique campsite in a town like this is rare," said Eileen Quinn, head of the Appalachian Trail Committee. "Cheshire is definitely getting on the map."
The town, which is now an Appalachian Trail Community, established the campsite last year near the town garage. The site, named after former pastor of St. Mary's Church, the Rev. Thomas Begley, has electricity and USB ports for charging phones and devices, water, a picnic table, portable toilet, and bicycles
On the site, there was a dilapidated structure formally used by the Water Department. Recently resident Gary Trudeau helped demolish the structure with his excavator.
"It is all clear, there is topsoil and grass," Quinn said. "It looks a lot better."
Now with that done, the committee plans to install a privacy fence to better isolate the campsite.
"It was obvious that we needed some sort of privacy fencing for people. There is a lot of traffic there along the trail and we don't really want to attract passers-bys," she said. "Or anybody there to have a picnic, party, or even use the bathrooms. We want to keep it for the hikers."
With the pandemic, the town had an unspent 2020 recreation budget and was able to provide funds to purchase the materials to build the fence.
Quinn said last week her core group of volunteers got to work.
"We are building it. It is not like a prefab thing," she said. "We had it all apart out on sawhorses; we had to paint 130 6 foot boards. We had another crew installing posts ... someone brought music. It was just an amazing community event, especially after COVID."
She thanked Appalachian Trail volunteer Cosmo Catalano Jr. who has been the "engine" behind the project and helped design the site. She also thanked the various town departments for helping along the way.
Quinn said the results speak for themselves.
"I am down there a lot, and I see hikers there all the time. There were six or seven tents," she said. "They are using the bikes and the the electrical ports."
The fence will close out planned projects for the year. Quinn said they may install some sort of pavilion or cover in the future.
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CHESHIRE, Mass.—The Selectmen on Tuesday discussed CARES Act spending with Town Accountant Lynne Lemanski.
The town has "requested almost up to the limit of what [Cheshire is] eligible for," Lemanski said. She noted that the town is eligible for $277,199 and it has requested $276,828 thus far. Cheshire must request the remaining funds and spend them before the end of the year or return them to the state government.
Cheshire has left unspent close to $110,000, and the Selectmen brainstormed ideas about where to spend the remaining money.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding is limited to certain types of expenditures, including public health infrastructure and unemployment for municipal workers. In keeping with these restrictions, Selectman Ray Killeen suggested buying some portable pump-operated hand-washing or sanitizing stations.
Noting that Cheshire is opening up and have more events, Killeen said it would be beneficial "to have six or seven [stations] on hand so as people mingle, they have the ability to sanitize [their] hands."
Selectman Jason Levesque noted that the Appalachian Trail campsite on Church Street could use this for the through hikers to wash their hands.
Selectman Shawn McGrath wondered if personal protective equipment (PPE) "can be purchased [by the town] up front in case there's a spike" in COVID-19 cases in the future.
The Cheshire Community Association has tried to organize two block parties every year since 2015. Over the years, the group has secured Massachusetts Cultural Council grants to enhance the block parties.
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Morse, most recently town administrator in Ashfield, was selected from three candidates for the post last month. Her hiring had depended on town meeting's approval of a salary for a full-time administrator.
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