Athol Selectboard receives upbeat update on grants

  • Athol Planning and Development Director Eric Smith updated the Selectboard on the status of several grants Tuesday night. Left to right: Selectboard Chair Rebecca Bialecki, board members Lee Chauvette and Holly Young, Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, and Smith. GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 10/2/2019 9:55:17 PM
Modified: 10/3/2019 9:26:02 AM

ATHOL – Planning and Development Director Eric Smith Tuesday night told members of the Selectboard his department has been successful recently when it comes to landing grant monies for a number of projects in town.

“The total,” he said, “adds up to over a half-million dollars from, basically, state funding sources. Some of that has been passed down from the federal level.”

The largest chunk of cash, close to $450,000, comes via a state Community Development Block Grant.

“It’ll be used for the reconstruction of Church Street; a little section of Church Street between Main and Walnut” said Smith. “That will take place next year, the way the Marble Street project took place this year.”

“It also provides us with engineering and design funds for Walnut Street, from Church to Canal, as well as a short segment of Union and Canal, both, respectively, from Main to Walnut.”

“There will be community outreach meetings in the neighborhood of Walnut Street,” Smith continued. “There will also be one for input on the design elements of the project.”

Smith also told the Selectboard the town had received $47,000 for the Lake Ellis Water Quality Assessment Project. Information provided to the board said the money would be used by the town “to establish a water quality baseline and develop a watershed-based plan for the control of nuisance aquatic vegetation.”

“What this is going to allow us to do,” Smith explained, “is kind of approach this as a holistic watershed management plan. We’ll look at all the elements of the input into Lake Ellis. I know there have been issues going on with the aquatic weeds, and so forth.”

“Apparently,” he said, “in the town’s past, that was a backup water supply. It was discontinued, what, 30 years ago? They stopped the outlets that flowed out of the lake to the north, which was Mill Brook. That created that wetlands system that goes across Route 2. You drive by it between exit 17 and the Pleasant Street bridge – you can see that wetlands system very visibly.”

Smith said he’d like the town to consider restoring the natural flow of water in that area.

The town also received a $53,000 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness-Planning Grant. The grant will fund development of a plan for Athol to deal with the potential impact of climate change, including an increase in rainfall that could result in more frequent flooding along the Miller River.

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