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Cheshire Economic Report Sees Opportunities for Growth

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Cheshire Community Association President John Tremblay hopes a recent economic development report can lay out a path forward in which the town can grow.
"This is a big thing and could increase revenue in town," Tremblay said. "Every community is struggling with it so this is a long-term list that shows how we can take these assets and leverage them to grow funding."
This Phase 1 report comes after implementing recommendations from the Cheshire Financial Management Review report published by the state's Division of Local Services in 2022. 
The first in the list of recommendations was to appoint an Economic Development Task Force. Next was to create the Economic Development Report, a form that could guide and support the task force efforts.
Tremblay said state Rep. John Barrett III secured $10,000 for the town to conduct the study with the help of Berkshire Regional Planning Committee. The planning was at no cost to the town.
Tremblay said he worked closely with BRPC Economic Development Program Manager Laura Brennan to develop the document.
"BRPC handled all the blocking and tackling, and I helped with the vision," Tremblay said. "We didn't want some dry document; we wanted to bring Cheshire to life. We want to be able to use this as a marketing tool so we talked about all of the potential and other cool things happening in town."
The document includes many photos, and Tremblay said its more colorful aspect has influenced how BRPC will form similar economic reports in the future.  
"This is a different kind of report. We didn't want something boring you would glaze over," he added.
Brennan said the report pulls from different studies and planning initiatives.
"This report combines elements from several types of economic development research, including what BRPC learned from leading local recovery planning efforts in some neighboring towns during the pandemic," she said.
Spanning close to 100 pages, it offers a comprehensive overview of the town by encompassing demographic and economic data, highlighting various assets and characteristics. The report provides an in-depth analysis of the town, enabling comparisons with similar communities.
In addition to statistical information, it highlights encouraging trends in Cheshire, including properties and projects with economic potential. The report also includes potential funding sources the town can harness to help these projects along.
The document lays out some recommended actions for town leadership that Tremblay hopes will improve the town's economic condition while maintaining its character.
It also points out successes that the town can build upon including the town's development of an Open Space and Recreation Plan and its designation as an Appalachian Trail Community. The report notes various community events and efforts.
The report presents opportunities, especially in the village center, and suggests building off efforts to highlight the town's history such as the Cheshire Mammoth Cheese replica positioned near the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the revitalization of Leland Park. It also recommends additional cleanup efforts in the village center and improvements to overall mobility.
To "energize" the area, the report recommends utilizing signage along Route 8 to attract visitors to the village center
Suggestions include improving the parking area at Cheshire Reservoir to make it more conducive to pedestrian travel and visitation. Currently the lakeshore has inadequate parking. It was also suggested that the area be cleaned up and aesthetics improved. 
The report noted that pedestrian travel on portions of Route 8 is not the best with a lack of sidewalks, specifically near Whitney's Farm Stand. Also, there is no safe way to cross the road from the rail trail to the farm stand.
The report also saw the potential for future business investment along the Route 8 corridor, including a long list of underutilized vacant buildings and properties and various conditions.
The report pointed to some immediate potential actions including installation of public art and improving facades in more public areas. The report also suggested wayfinding improvements and utilizing vacant space, even temporarily, among other things 
The document also recommends establishing a cultural district.
Moving more toward the mid to long-term, the report suggested engaging the business community with networking and technical support and the creation of an online guide for new residents and businesses in Cheshire.
Ultimately, the report points the town toward Phase II of economic development planning.
The document specifically lined up two longer-term projects including, as mentioned, the improvement of the Cheshire Reservoir area and the repurposing of the land between the rail trail and Hoosic River abutting the Father Tom campsite to the south for recreational purposes.
Brennan said she hopes the report will help guide the town going forward.
"It gathers a wide array of data that Cheshire can use to track its progress over time — more than a typical economic development chapter in a master plan, really equipping the community to make informed decisions moving forward," she said.
Tremblay said the Cheshire Community Association brought the document before the Select Board in February. He said he hopes it is a tool that town leadership can use to steer Cheshire toward some meaningful economic development.
"It just felt like a very appropriate thing for us to do to support that report and put something together that could be used by the leadership in the town or task force," he said. "It is really an asset inventory, it is not a plan. It is Phase I of a body of information that we can use to really get into some serious economic development discussions."

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BArT Announces Third Quarter Honor Roll

ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Arts & Technology (BArT) Charter Public School has announced the students who made the honor roll for the third quarter of the 2023-2024 school year. 
Students who earned 80 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "Honors." Students who earned 90 percent or above in all of their classes received the distinction of "High Honors."
Academic courses at BArT are aligned with the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks for the appropriate grade level and include all standards deemed necessary for a complete, college-preparatory, middle and high school education.
Students in Grade 6 who earned High Honors are Abigail Betti, Jaydn Bolus-Strawbridge, Majbrit Carpenter, Bailee Cimini, Kason Corkins, Alex Demary, Norah Duffy, Noah Hall, Riley Hitchcock, Kourtney Hoang, Tristan Larkin, Delroy Leard, Morgan Legrand, Ian Lloyd, Allanah McCabe, Dante McClerklin, Joey Nocher, Stephen Nyamehen, Cooper Olimpo, Gustavo Perez, Rufus Quirke de Jong, Isabella Rosales, Armani Roy, Niyah Scipio, Emma Sherman, Isabella Silva, Paige Tetreault, and Kevin Toomey.
Students in Grade 6 who earned Honors are Daniel Aguilar, Liam Connors, Audrey Costigan, Zoey Dudek-Linnehan, David Fernandez, Mason Goodermote, Harmony Greco-Melendez, Sakora Knight, Anelia Lang, Miah Morgan-Enos, Aiyanah Roy, Maxwell Stolzberg, and Patrick Wells Vidal.
Students in Grade 7 who earned High Honors are Mary Mame Akua Asare, Paige Bartlett, Madalyn Benson, Demitri Burnham, Anastasia Carty, Vincente Choque, McKenna Cramer, Kierra Dearstyne, Deandra Hage, Ashley Heck, Callie Meyette, Quinlan Nesbit, Hadley Richard, Jayden Ruopp, Kie Sherman, Gabriel Thomas, Edrisa Touray, and Tyler Williams.
Students in Grade 7 who earned Honors are Samuel Bellows, Joshua Codding, Addison Cooper, Ava DeVylder, Wyatt Drosehn, Emil Gehlot, Roger LaRocca, Hadley Madole, Maddison Moore, Alexis Munson, Leafy Murphy, Chris-Raphael Natama, Anthony Salta, Althea Schneider, Aiden Smith, Jaden Wells-Vidal, Kyler Wick, and Mckenzie Witto.
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