Big projects ahead in South County

  • A South County ambulance at the South Deerfield Fire District on Routes 5 and 10. Recorder FILE PHOTO/Matt Burkhartt

  • David Zamojski and Gary Ponce, paramedics with South County EMS, check the equipment and drug inventory of one of their ambulances at the South Deerfield Fire Department. Recorder File Photo/Matt Burkhartt

For the Bulletin
Saturday, January 07, 2017

Town officials in southern Franklin County are looking to wrap up a few large projects in the coming year, and to move forward with others.

Changes in Deerfield

Several Deerfield development issues from 2016 are moving into the new year, from the town’s plan to keep the South County EMS in South Deerfield to a proposed move of the local Cumberland Farms.

“As far as what things we’re getting excited about, we really need to focus on the senior center and senior housing,” said Deerfield Selectboard Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness, adding, “obviously getting the South County EMS building built is a goal.”

Deerfield Academy has agreed to build a garage and office space near the South Deerfield fire station to house the regional ambulance, a proposal that runs counter to the original plan to go to Whately but one that Deerfield leaders prefer in part because it looks like it might be cheaper and closer to home.

Shores Ness also noted a state grant given to Deerfield and a few neighboring towns, including Conway, to fight mosquito-borne illnesses by improving control of insect populations.

“Deerfield is lead on that, and that’s hugely important because it’s a climate change issue,” Shores Ness said.

Also of note, keep an eye out for progress on a new marijuana dispensary on Greenfield Road, across from the Red Roof Inn, and Mark Wightman’s proposed senior housing development on Sugarloaf Street.

He would build 70 apartments in 35 duplex buildings at the foot of Mount Sugarloaf, but has met resistance from some residents, including those along Sugarloaf Street.

Expansion to Tilton Library and upgrades to the town’s sewer system are also on the horizon.

Affordable housing in Sunderland

Sunderland hopes to build on the successes of this year, noted by Town Administrator Sherry Patch as completion of a 242 killowatt-hour solar project at the Elementary School, weatherization initiatives at the Town Offices and Public Safety Complex, and progress to bring affordable senior housing into town at 120 North Main St.

Looking ahead, town officials are working with a design organization for a reconstruction project on North Main Street that includes “surface and sub-surface drainage, road surface improvements, road shoulder improvements to enhance bicycle safety, and sidewalk upgrades for handicapped accessibility and improved walkability.”

The statement notes that the project will be funded by the state, and is scheduled to begin in 2020.

Upcoming in 2017, the town is looking to complete a boat ramp at the end of School Street, authorized on town meeting floor in April 2016.

So far, town officials have acquired land and secured public access. The next step is to “establish a Land Management agreement, which will provide for capital maintenance of the boat launch in perpetuity” with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

In addition, the town will be working to plan its 300th anniversary, scheduled for 2018.