The old trolley line that once went down the middle of Park Street was barely covered over. The reconstruction will remove the line, brick pavers and other detritus that's affecting the stability of the road.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town is planning for about $1.6 million in paving and road construction including reconstruction of Park Street this year.
About half would be done with Community Development Block Grants, which the town will be applying for in March. The work on Park Street and along Columbia Street is estimated at $800,000 and will be funded through state funds including Chapter 90.
"We have a very small but mighty DPW crew, who is in charge of roads, sewers, parks, and also some facilities work," said Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin at presentation on Thursday of the plans. "So they can only accomplish so much, which makes us reliant on grants and trying to find other sources of funding to get products accomplished."
The town has about 55 miles of road, three of which are still gravel. A study in 2016 found 42 percent were rated at a 6 on a 10-point scale. Adams currently gets about $280,000 in Chapter 90 road funds annually.
Coughlin said some of the Park Street issues are obvious — there are ruts on both sides of the road and the old trolley rails are resurfacing on the south end. What engineers found underneath the road is also of concern: more rails, brick pavers, concrete and silt.
"Basically everything just kind of shifts around and it really isn't built on a stable base right now," he said. "We'll have to go down you know, dig, dig really deep, probably 10 inches or more and put down a new stable base."
About 1,100 feet of Park will undergo a full-depth reclamation, with an initial estimate cost of about $600,000, and sidewalk and other repairs along Columbia at about $200,000. The goal is to increase accessibility and replace aging infrastructure.
"We are looking at combining that work with another project that was funded through a Shared Streets grant on Columbia Street," Coughlin continued. "We're looking at replacing about 16 curb ramps and upgrading eight crossings from Valley Street to Burt Street. We're also looking at installing one new crossing near Memorial School to coincide or build on anticipated future development there and, again, provide more access to the [Ashuwillticook] Rail Trail."
Funding for this project comes from the $190,000 Shared Streets grant, $180,000 from the Winter Road Assistance program, or WRAP, and the balance from saved up Chapter 90 road funds. Coughlin said these estimates may rise, noting the price of asphalt and supplies has risen.
That work is expected to start in May or June while the paving and sidewalk repairs on four streets — Albert, Cook, Pleasant and Randall — is dependent on CDBG funding.
Community Development is recommending the town apply for $1.35 million of which $700,000 to $800,000 would be used for the road work and the balance for the housing rehabilitation program and administrative costs.
The federal funding has to be spent within Route 8 target area, which was designated a "slum and blight" area about eight years ago (according to the federal definition).
"We can only select streets within that within that target area zone or boundary," said Coughlin. "And then the individual streets themselves have to be contributing to slum and blight so not every street in that area is considered as contributing to slum and blight. And that's based on the condition of the infrastructure."
These four streets were selected to build up on developments or demographics in those areas. Upgrading Albert and Cook will build on the Crotteau Street project done with a Complete Streets grant in 2018 and complement the planned park at the old coal and grain building and rail trail access. Residents of nearby senior housing, such as Barrett House, and trail users will benefit from repairs to Pleasant Street.
"They'll mill out probably 2 or 3 inches of pavement and come back and replace it with a new pavement," he said. "We're looking at fully replacing the existing sidewalks, upgrading upgrading curb ramps to improve accessibility, resetting or replacing signage as needed and then resetting drains or replacing them especially if there damage."
The timeline for that project is dependent on receiving CDBG funds, a competitive federal grant program. The application will be made in March and the town will know by June or July if and how much will be funded. If the money comes through, bidding will take place in the fall for spring 2024 construction.
This application will include funding for the housing rehabilitation program. This program provides funds for eligible homeowners to address lead abatement, building code and health and safety concerns. About eight to 10 homes are selected; to apply, contact the Community Development Office.
Officials said this program helps seniors stay in their homes longer and ensures that the town's aging housing stock is maintained and available for the next generation.
A public hearing on the block grant funds will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7:10 p.m. during the Selectmen's meeting. The board is expected to vote on the application that night.
Future projects include the reconstruction of Howland Avenue into a two-lane road with shared turning lane and the extension of the rail trail from Lime Street to Hodges Cross Road in North Adams, with the eventual hope of connecting to the bike path in Williamstown.
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Mass Audubon Sole Respondent for Greylock Glen Programmer
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Mass Audubon was the sole respondent to the town's request for proposals to provide "place-based environmental education" at the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center.
The Lincoln-based non-profit returned an in-depth plan with a six-year project timeline. Mass Audubon was among the collaborators with the town in the early planning process for the 1,063-acre glen, of which about 50 acres is being developed.
It notes that the programs envisioned for the center — lectures, summit hikes, school field trips, bird walks and the like — would be tailored to demand as time goes by.
"[O]ur staff are trained to utilize a community engagement approach to understand from residents and other key constituents what they hope to learn and do where we operate environmental education programming," Mass Audubon's letter of intent reads, in part. "This data helps to inform how we design and implement program portfolios that meet our desired outcomes."
Town Administrator Jay Green said Friday that town staff will review the proposal before a likely presentation from Mass Audubon to the Board of Selectmen, which will decide whether to enter into lease negotiations with the non-profit.
Mass Audubon's proposed lease agreement calls for a zero dollar annual payment to the town for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2024.
A letter signed by Mass Audubon President David O'Neill explained that the non-profit deviated from the town's request for a 10-year lease because of unknowns related to the Glen development project.
The Cook Street park began construction last week, a public information session on the reconstruction of Park Street is set for Wednesday at 5:30 at Town Hall and the town is participating in a regional digital equity planning process with its first meeting in October.
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