Colrain ‘visioning’ workshop Sunday

 

Greenfield Recorder 09/25/2014, Page C04

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff

COLRAIN — What kind of town will Colrain become this century? A bedroom town? Or a classic New England town with a bustling commercial center?With a multi-million dollar sewer project looming for Colrain’s village center, town officials first want to know what kind of development residents will support in the village district. A “visioning session” will be held Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Colrain Central School in hopes that residents will come to talk about what kind of growth they want, or don’t want, in their town.

In her summary of the draft Village Center Master Plan, Patricia A. Smith said a sewer project has to be part of the master plan if Colrain’s village center is to attract future business, commerce and economic growth. Smith is land-use planner for the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

The state has recently awarded the town a $2.5 million grant to create a gravity-fed sewer system and pumping station along Jacksonville/ Main roads, but townspeople would have to vote supplemental funds needed to complete the project. Recently, state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg and state Rep. Paul Mark advised selectmen to find out if there is townwide support, so that plans to use the grant could be put into place before a new governor is in office. The grant would pay for most of the sewer project, but it must be used by July 2016. Initially, only 51 households would be eligible to become sewer users, but the infrastructure would create more possibilities for reusing old storefronts and vacant apartment buildings that are now languishing, in part, because of faulty septic systems.

“There are potential costs to taxpayers and rate payers over time,” said Smith. “But there are also costs in doing nothing. If you do nothing, you don’t have the capacity for economic development in the town.”

At this meeting, the Center Village Master Plan will be reviewed, and groups of residents will discuss issues that may affect the town’s revitalization, such as vitality and business development, housing and existing development. Smith said the Center Village Master Planning project has been funded by the state Department of Housing and the Franklin County Community Development’s Technical Assistance Grant Program.

The Center Village Master Planning Committee includes: Chairman Jack Cavolick, Joan Rockwell, Scott Sullivan, Joan McQuade and Janice Barnes.

The first visioning session was held last year. It was attended by 20 participants who helped to develop the action plan included in the draft Center Village Master Plan.

“This second visioning session will allow the community to revisit the draft plan’s recommendations in light of new opportunities to address challenges facing the town and more recent revitalization efforts in the center village,” said Smith.

Last year’s demolition of the Civil War Veterans’ Memorial Hall by the town prompted concerns that Colrain could lose other unused historic buildings, including the Brick Meeting House. Redevelopment of the old buildings has been hindered by septic system limits, among other factors. The two-story, brick Memorial Hall had been up for sale for years, but drew no takers, in part because of lack of parking, septic and accessibility.

For more information about the visioning session or the center village master planning process in general, contact Pat Smith, FRCOG senior planner, at 413-774-3167, ext. 134 or at:

psmith@frcog.org You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277