BY ABBY BAKER ’19
The South Hadley local government has introduced the “Complete Streets Prioritization Plan,” a compilation of project proposals for local infrastructure improvement. The development of the plan was prompted by the local government’s decision to apply for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).
The grant would fund infrastructural projects within the town, such as increasing the number of bicycle paths and sidewalks, repaving town roads, and improving street lighting.
The local government is open to suggestions from the public on which projects to prioritize on the grant application.
Richard Harris, South Hadley’s town planner, said that the South Hadley local government wants to hear from the public. “The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) is meeting with different committees and the public can always send us emails,” he said.
The PVPC, which has operated since 1962, is the regional planning body for the 43 towns that comprise Hampden and Hampshire counties, the area also known as the Pioneer Valley. The Committee is comprised of local governments whose aim is to address regional issues and opportunities.
A public meeting was held on Oct. 18 at the South Hadley Town Hall Auditorium to solicit project suggestions from residents and business owners. According to the event’s press release, a presentation by members of the PVPC on the Complete Streets plan and the methods by which local projects are scored for ranking was slated to occur. According to WWLP, over a dozen residents of South Hadley attended the meeting.
According to Harris, residents are primarily seeking a more bike-friendly community with more sidewalks. “Sidewalks are the primary thing,” said Harris.
Mount Holyoke student Heather Johnston ’19 agreed, saying, “I would want to see more bicycle paths or lanes, and more sidewalks.”
Johnston also noted that there may be a missed opportunity for local businesses regarding the presence of the Mount Holyoke community in South Hadley. “I would love a place to buy regular things closer to campus, like shampoo and such, especially now that the campus store is gone,” Johnston said.
As well as consulting with other committees and the public, PVCP members have incorporated elements of the South Hadley Master Plan, South Hadley Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and the Open Space and Recreation Plan, among others, to compile a preliminary list of project proposals. Among the proposals so far are improvements to and increased implementations of sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and bus stops.
If approved, eligible projects could receive up to $400,000 from MassDOT. The proposals are slated for submission to MassDOT by this January, and if approved, will advance to the next round of applications. Whether or not South Hadley receives a grant for infrastructure will likely be decided by May 2018.