NORTHAMPTON — Five communities in Hampshire County and Holyoke have won grants totaling more than $5.1 million from the state’s Community One Stop for Growth grant program.
Administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the program funds economic development projects related to planning and zoning, site preparation, building construction and infrastructure.
Local grants include $1.55 million for Holyoke spread over six projects, approximately $1 million each for Northampton (three projects) and Amherst (four projects), $927,000 for Cummington (two projects), $350,000 for Belchertown (four projects) and $175,000 for Easthampton (one project).
In addition to the $830,000 grant from Valley Community Development (See accompanying story, A1), other One Stop grants for Northampton include $250,000 for the city to make site and infrastructure improvements to support affordable housing at up to four properties in the city, and $2,500 to the Forbes Library for the design to support electrical service and a performance stage to hold outdoor community events. The West Lawn of Forbes Library is used for community programs, but without any supporting infrastructure, types of events are limited.
In Cummington, the city will receive $882,000 to help replace existing crooked and undersized Stage Road culvert infrastructure, which currently poses a risk to public safety.
The city will also receive $45,000 for a feasibility study to determine the work needed to bring a largely vacant elementary school building up to code for reuse. City officials plan to use the old school building as a new city government center, regional food incubator, business rental space, and preschool/daycare facility. Plans include making the space more energy efficient and eventually replacing the oil furnaces with a more efficient heating and cooling system.
The City of Belchertown received $250,000 from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to remediate the site around the former Belchertown State School power plant, now known as Carriage Grove. The plant includes a boiler room and a chimney.
The city also received $45,000 to hire a consultant to complete a new housing master plan. The plan will incorporate public engagement, review of local housing progress since the last housing plan, and analysis of current trends and future housing needs. The aim is to provide a comprehensive housing analysis with specific recommendations for action.
Meanwhile, the Belchertown Community Alliance Inc. has landed two grants totaling $55,000 for a city-partnered project to repurpose 6 Bershire Ave., once a dormitory on Belchertown State School’s old campus. The project will create a new café, food service incubator, community meeting and gallery space, as well as affordable and convenient commercial space for creative businesses. The money will also be used to carry out an appraisal of the building.
Easthampton was awarded $175,000 to create a master plan and improve access routes in the Pleasant Street Mills neighborhood. This work would support the activation of approximately 650,000 square feet of factory space.
The Town of Amherst received three grants:
■ A $755,000 MassWorks grant to fund infrastructure improvements needed to widen and repave Highway 9, replace 1,000 linear feet of sidewalk on both sides of the road, and build new bike lanes, drainage and sidewalks.
■ A grant of $250,000 for the construction of a walkway 8 feet wide and approximately 510 feet long along the east side of the township. This section of sidewalk would improve access by connecting the Spring Street parking lot to a new performance space and one of the busiest bus stops downtown.
■ A $75,000 grant to develop streetscape standards for downtown Amherst. This project will complement a separate municipal project to develop design standards and dimensional regulations for self-developed spaces in the downtown zoning districts.
The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce was also awarded $5,000 to partner with the City, the District of Mill in North Amherst and businesses in the Village of Pomeroy in South Amherst to implement a project to create places and common areas which will include plantings, picnic tables and Adirondack chairs in the village. centers to create outdoor gathering space in Amherst’s south and north business districts.
In Holyoke, Way Finders Inc. has secured $900,000 for the second phase of construction of the Library Commons affordable housing complex downtown. The funds will be used for part of the renovation of a vacant brick building at 213 Chestnut Street. The renovated building will create five one-bedroom, five two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units.
Meanwhile, El Punto Paper City LLC will receive $260,000 to repair major damage to 144 High St., which is being renovated and reactivated as the new home of Paper City Clothing Co., a retail store and an art gallery occupied by young locals. A smaller storefront unit will be leased to another local business, and second floor renovations will add a residential unit downtown.
Other grants at Holyoke went to:
■EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke, which is receiving $100,000 to provide technical assistance to existing businesses facing challenges due to the ongoing pandemic.
■ The New England Farm Workers’ Council will receive $15,000 to study the feasibility of a co-working space/small business incubator for 225 High St.