Around Amherst: New plans for Amherst solar project

Staff Writer
Friday, January 05, 2018

AMHERST — Seven years after plans were first announced to put a solar project on one of the town’s capped landfill off Belchertown Road, Amherst officials are ready to pursue a smaller project.

Residents are invited to an informational session Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Town Room at Town Hall in which plans for a 3 ½- to 4-megawatt project that would be built on the newer capped landfill, next to the transfer station, will be presented.

”The north landfill seems like a very good site for this to happen,” said Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek.

Ziomek will be joined by Town Manager Paul Bockelman, Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello and Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring in discussing the project and the goals for solar to help power town and school buildings.

“This will update them as to where we’re going in 2018 with the project,” Ziomek said.

Late Town Manager John Musante championed the project starting in April 2011, but solar panels have never been put on either of the two capped landfills, in part because of a lawsuit filed by abutters and because one of the town’s partners, SunEdison, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

LEE Energy Group of Agawam will work with the town on the new project, Ziomek said.

Before arrays are installed, a series of approvals will be needed, including from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species program to mitigate the loss of habitat for the endangered grasshopper sparrow. The Conservation Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and state Department of Environmental Protection will also have to review the plans.

“We feel like we’re finally moving forward,” Ziomek said.  

New facilities director

James McPherson of Pelham is the new facilities director for the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District and the town of Amherst.

McPherson, who has a background in safety and environmental compliance and master planning, earned bachelors and masters degrees in civil engineering from the University of Virginia.

McPherson replaces Ron Bohonowicz, who served in the same role from 2006 until his retirement at the end of October.

Cuppa Joe with Paul

A day after he presents his budget plan for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1, Town Manager Paul Bockelman will be at Atkins Farms Country Market, 1151 West St.

The periodic Cuppa Joe with Paul event takes place Jan. 12 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. 

Bockelman will be joined by Co-Finance Director and Comptroller Sonia Aldrich.

While Bockelman will discuss the budget and this year’s goals and priorities, those who come to the event are welcome to address other concerns or offer compliments and criticisms.

CDBG proposals

Proposals for social service agencies and non social-service projects using Community Development Block Grant money can be submitted to the CDBG Advisory Committee this month.

Proposals are due by Jan. 24 at noon on the second floor of Town Hall.

The CDBG Advisory Committee will then review proposals Jan. 30 and hold a public hearing Feb. 8 before making recommendations to Bockelman.

Talk at the woman’s club

A new member of the Amherst Woman's Club will be discussing her career as an artist and designer during the club's meeting. Monday.

Cynthia Clayton Parent will share examples of her work during the talk, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at the club’s headquarters, 35 Triangle St.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.


MONDAY: Town Meeting Coordinating Committee and Subcommittee on Policies and Procedures, 5:30 p.m., Pole Room, Bangs Community Center; Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Development Subcommittee, 6 p.m., Black Sheep Deli;  Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Jones Library Buildings and Facilities Committee, 3:30 p.m., Goodwin Room, Jones Library.

WEDNESDAY: Transportation Advisory Committee, 4:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Select Board and Finance Committee, both at 4 p.m., and Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, 7 p.m., all at Town Room, Town Hall; Community Preservation Act Committee, 6 p.m., community room, police station.