County streets, online trails for millions in block grants

Posted: 02/24/2022 19:34:03

Modified: 02/24/2022 19:33:41

AMHERST – Construction of accessible trails on the former Hickory Ridge golf course that will connect apartment complexes in the center of Pomeroy Village and reconstruction of sidewalks along Kellogg Avenue in downtown Amherst are part of projects supported by Community Development Block Grant money.

Following a state-imposed delay in the process, Amherst recently received $825,000, including $536,250 for infrastructure improvements. Of this amount, $185,076 is for Hickory Ridge, $170,076 for Kellogg Avenue and $181,098 for the replacement roof of Watson Farms Amherst Housing Authority apartments.

An additional $165,000 will be used to support five social service agencies, including the Amherst Survival Center Food Pantry and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County Youth Mentoring.

Amherst is eligible for money as a mini-fee community designated by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

The city is also one of 45 recipients of $38 million in statewide CDBG funding, which will benefit low- and middle-income residents.

Other grant recipients

In Hampshire County, other CDBG funds have been awarded, including Easthampton, which is receiving $800,000 for Cherry Street infrastructure improvements; in Hadley and South Hadley, which is receiving $570,500 for housing rehabilitation assistance in 10 units, aging-in-place improvements and planning for Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to the hotel in town of Hadley; and in Huntington, which is receiving $727,000 for Crescent Street infrastructure improvements and the design of Stanton Avenue improvements.

When announcing the awards, Governor Charlie Baker said the money met a critical need.

“Now more than ever, it’s important that we focus our efforts on providing services to our most vulnerable residents, and the projects we fund through CDBG aim to do just that,” Baker said.

Social Service Grants

Amherst had finalized a review process in early 2021 but then had to reopen applications, with another review of projects taking place last August.

Two requests for $100,000 were not recommended or funded. These were to make the south courtyard outside the Bangs Community Center accessible and to improve accessibility to the Munson Memorial Library.

For social service agencies, $51,000 will go to the pantry and $29,200 will be used for youth mentoring. In addition, $36,500 is dedicated to community housing provided by Family Outreach of Amherst, $32,850 to homeless housing provided by Amherst Community Connections, and $15,350 to adult education self-sufficiency programs provided by The Literacy Project. .

Due to the limited number of five social service agencies, applications from Craig’s Doors: A Home Association Inc., Center for New Americans, Collaborative for Educational Services and Amherst Media were not funded.

In the meantime, Amherst is looking for volunteers to join the Amherst CDBG Advisory Committee. Interested individuals can submit an application at www.amherstma.gov/caf

The CDBG Advisory Board is also seeking public input on service priorities for the 2022-2023 funding year, with a short survey available at www.engageamherst.org/2022cdbg

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]

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