Orange hopes grant funding could help finance armory roof, greenway

  • Orange town officials hope grant funding may help finance the replacement of the roof of the Orange Armory on East Main Street. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Orange town officials hope grant funding may help finance the replacement of the roof of the Orange Armory on East Main Street. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Orange town officials hope to secure grant funding to support an Orange-Athol Greenway, an on-road bikeway that would run along East River Street, starting at the vacant parcel adjacent to Riverfront Park that the town recently acquired, pictured. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Orange town officials hope to secure grant funding to support an Orange-Athol Greenway, an on-road bikeway that would run along East River Street, starting at the vacant parcel adjacent to Riverfront Park that the town recently acquired, pictured. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2021 2:43:46 PM
Modified: 1/27/2021 2:43:44 PM

ORANGE — An intern with Orange’s Community Development Office recently went before the Selectboard requesting its support to apply for two state grants that, if received, would allow for the replacement of the Orange Armory roof and the creation of an Orange-Athol Greenway.

Tiffany Menard, a recent University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate working toward a master’s degree, spoke at a recent Zoom meeting to outline the pair of projects that are eligible for outside funding. The roof could be partially financed by the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund, which helps preserve properties, landscapes and sites in the State Register of Historic Places; and the greenway could benefit from the MassTrails grant program that supports recreational trail and shared-use programs.

Menard explained the development portion of the armory roof project is eligible for a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund grant between $7,500 and $100,000. A 50 percent match is required, and the deadline to apply is March 19. Menard said the roof will cover the entire top of the building at 135 East Main St. and will also go toward the front of the stairs.

Town Administrator Gabriele Voelker said there is $160,000 in the bank to fix the roof, which an architect will examine to craft a design plan.

“The roof is already leaking in various spots and (Building Inspector) Phil Harris has told me he thinks it can’t go more than one more winter,” Voelker said.

Regarding an Orange-Athol Greenway, Menard said MassTrails money can be used for project development, design, engineering, permitting and construction, as well as for trail maintenance. Grant amounts, she said, range from $5,000 to $300,000, and a 20 percent match is required. The deadline is Feb. 1.

“The goal of this project is to create an off-road connection between downtown Orange and downtown Athol in order to support healthy lifestyles, encourage non-polluting forms of transportation, and expand the state’s trail network,” Menard said. “The MassTrails Grant Program will help fund the conceptual design portion of this project and the two towns of Orange and Athol would be filing a joint application.”

Orange Community Development Director Alec Wade said the idea is for the route to be an on-road bikeway that runs along East River Street, starting at the vacant parcel adjacent to Riverfront Park that the town recently acquired.

“This conceptual portion of it, we would be looking as to how we could design that start point here in Orange,” Wade said, “to make it both river accessible, bikeway accessible, and then the amenities we could feature in there.

“And then ultimately, along the Athol portion, as we’ve discussed it so far, there’s the potential for it to go into active conservation land, so that way we would be able to go into the area ... to see some of the features of it and then end closer to the downtown,” he continued. “Obviously, I spend more time in Orange, so that’s the area I’m most familiar with, but as we go through this conceptual process we would start to actually see what this would look like more.”

Selectboard member Tom Smith asked what the local match would look like, whether it be money or an in-kind contribution. Wade said the specifics have not yet been hammered out, but in-kind work could entail town employees working to complete the project or hours spent in public engagement.

Wade said Orange has not yet solicited a quote for the greenway project, but the goal is to keep the cost “as low as possible.”

“We’re not shooting for the moon right now,” he explained. “We understand this project is still very much in its infancy, and with the current budget constraints, both Athol and Orange, we agreed at our last meeting that we would go just for the conceptual to start.”

Selectboard Chair Ryan Mailloux asked if Wade and Menard have approached Athol. Wade said Orange has, for more than a year, worked hand in hand with Athol as well as the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission.

Voelker chimed in to say Athol plans to take over the path “behind McDonald’s and create a path that will come out somewhere near the bridge.”

Mailloux said the project seems exciting but involved.

“That sounds like quite the project,” he said. “I’d be more than thrilled for it to be successful and see it to fruition, but it does sound like a serious project.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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