Falls area to receive $800K grant
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
SOUTH HADLEY -- For more than two decades, the town of South Hadley has been working on enhancing and revitalizing its South Hadley Falls neighborhood, and thanks to an $800,000 Community Development Block Grant, that mission can be continued.
The grant was recently awarded to the town by the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development. Plans for the grant include everything from rehabbing a home to installing sidewalks.
Frank DeToma, chair of the Community Development Advisory Committee, said the goal of the group is to give the town guidance on which projects need to be pursued.
"When the opportunity came up to apply for this grant, we took it," he said.
DeToma added that members of the committee have had a long-term interest in improving and developing the Falls and "bringing it up to what it could be."
"The Falls is a gateway into town ... from Holyoke," DeToma stated. "It doesn't present the prettiest picture right now, but it does have lots of possibilities."
To make the area more attractive, the block grant will be used to replace the water line along Canal Street, install and rehabilitate sidewalks along Canal Street, improve drainage on Canal Street, rehabilitate the town-owned duplex on School Street and prepare specifications for the replacement of portions of the roof at the Senior Center.
"These projects will lay the foundation for future work in the area," Town Planner Richard Harris told Reminder Publications. "We've been working on this area for more than 20 years."
Harris mentioned the 44 elderly housing units on Canal Street and how important it was for them to have adequate sidewalk access.
Jeff Cyr, Fire District #1 Water Superintendent, also noted the importance of the replacement of the water line.
"The water department is going to receive about $85,000 for materials to replace the line on Canal Street," Cyr said. The pipe currently in place is about 40 years old and one of the last ones to need replacing in the Falls area. Over the past eight years, Fire District #1 has had to deal with "numerous water main breaks because of the age of the line," according to Cyr.
"Within the last eight years, we've replaced four miles of pipe," he noted. He added that all past work and all future work will be done in house, which will lead to a large savings for those in Fire District #1.
Preliminary work on all the projects is scheduled to begin this fall, and a Community Development Advisory Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16 to discuss how to move forward.
"I'd like to see the work done as soon as possible, if not sooner," DeToma said.
For updates on the grant projects, visit www.southhadley.org