Suhoski: Salt chewing up costs

For the Athol Daily News
Thursday, March 08, 2018

ATHOL — Town Manager Shaun Suhoski reported that Athol’s town’s snow and ice removal budget for fiscal year 2018 shows a $101,000 deficit, before Wednesday’s storm.

He cited the high cost of salt as the reason, saying the town has already spent $200,000 on it this year.

Selectman Lee Chauvette asked if the town has looked into alternative methods for treating the roads. Suhoski reported has conducted some research, but he had no comparison figures to give.

Suhoski announced that NewVue Communities in Fitchburg has selected Athol’s Riverbend/Ellen Bigelow schools campus to enter a design contest sponsored by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association.

The annual housing and development competition pairs teams of graduate students interested in architecture, planning and finance with affordable housing organizations to develop innovative and comprehensive development proposals.

NewVue Communities, a nonprofit organization, was one of six chosen to participate in the competition that awards prizes up to $10,000.

Suhoski also reported that requests for proposals for both Pleasant Street School and the landfill sites are due on March 12. At Pleasant Street School, there has already been one party to attend the mandatory site walk-through; there were more than 20 interested parties who received bid documents for development of a solar field at the former landfill site.

The town is working with Phillipston regarding the Bates Power Reservoir Dam, which no longer serves its purpose. The towns are looking at ways to remove the dam, rather maintain the obsolete structure.

The town is also working with North Quabbin Community Coalition, Athol Credit Union and a potential loan underwriting service/vendor to help relaunch the North Quabbin Loan Fund to bring funds back into the community.

Chet Dube from Vivint Solar requested a peddler permit to conduct house-to-house solicitation for the installation of solar panels on qualifying residences in return for lower electrical costs. Dube will carry an identification badge, as well as the town permit, when going door to door. The board approved his application to do this from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday and every other Saturday, intermittently for a year.

In other business:

A one-day alcohol permit was granted to the Athol-Royalston Athletic Association to hold its annual Athletic Hall of Fame induction dinner Town Hall later this year.

Rebecca Bialecki gave the board an update of the progress at Athol Hospital. She reported that construction is moving ahead with a concrete-poured foundation and people will soon see above-ground structures appearing.

In Petersham, the Quabbin Retreat is scheduled to begin accepting residential applications beginning April 3. The urgent care facility at Tower Hill is expected to have a soft opening on March 26.

Holly Young asked for an update on the status of the Exchange Street Bridge. Suhoski said the construction company is working on fabrication of structures and, once they have that, the original timeline of three to four weeks still stands.

Chauvette reported that Athol is hosting a “Your Town Through Your Eyes” photograph/drawing contest. The contest is open to any resident in town and is free to enter. The deadline for submissions is April 19. The winner will have their photograph or drawing appear on the cover of the annual town report, and will receive a prize. The winner will be announced during the May 1 Selectboard meeting. For more information, visit: www.athol-ma.gov.

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