Downtown Amherst walkway being rebuilt

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 19, 2017

AMHERST — A walkway that serves as one of the primary pedestrian entrances to the Boltwood Walk area of downtown Amherst is being rebuilt.

The $160,000 project, paid for with Community Development Block Grant money provided to Amherst in 2016, will refurbish the sidewalk that begins on North Pleasant Street between the Unitarian Meetinghouse and the 103 Shops and connects to the crosswalk at the main entrance to the Bangs Community Center.

Amherst Senior Planner Nathaniel Malloy said Caracas Construction of Ludlow will commence the main work this week, with crews expected to be on site for about four weeks.

“We’re hoping to be done by Dec. 1,” Malloy said.

The impetus for the work is the needs of those who use the Bangs Community Center, including many senior citizens and future clients at the Musante Health Center, as well as residents who live at Ann Whalen Apartments and Clark House. Individuals with mobility issues face difficulties when using the walkway, which has slopes that are steep and areas where puddling occurs during rainstorms.

The initial construction will include removing pavers installed in the 1970s, eliminating dips and bumps that create tripping hazards.

“Caracas will demolish the entire stretch of sidewalk,” Malloy said.

In addition to new drainage, bases will be installed for four new light poles. The lights will be added at a later time.

The new surface will be poured concrete to a depth of 6 inches, with granite curbing. There will also be an enlarged area for plantings adjacent to the 103 Shops building.

Malloy said the surface will not have the diagonally scored pattern that exists in other parts of the downtown, or bricks at the edges. Both have problems with durability.

During the work, the main entrance to the Unitarian Meetinghouse will not be accessible. People will be asked to enter the building using other doors. Customers for Panda East and Pita Pockets, in the 103 Shops building, will have to use the covered walkway attached to the building.

Malloy said the pocket park with benches that is next to Share Coffee, which was refurbished several years ago, will not be affected by the work, as it is on privately owned land.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.