Suhoski updates Selectboard on ARPA-funded projects

By Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 02-27-2023 4:56 PM

ATHOL – At a recent meeting the Selectboard received an update from Town Manager Shaun Suhoski on the status of seven projects to be paid for with $3.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The federal funds were used for items ranging from infrastructure improvements to fuel assistance. Suhoski reported that just under $26,500—plus accrued interest—in ARPA monies remain at the town’s disposal.

Included in the spending plan is $1.2 million for the replacement of the century-old water main along Green and Kennebunk streets.

“Upon the recommendation of engineers we have issued an award of bid to the lowest responsive bidder; that’s A. Martins & Sons of Ludlow, and their bid amount was $942,500,” Suhoski told the board at the Feb. 21 meeting. “When you put that together with the engineering and construction contingency, that $1.2 million authorization looks like a solid number. We’re aiming to come in under that. Now they can order the pipe and we can get that project moving.”

Suhoski said a total of eight competitive bids were received and that A. Martins & Sons was granted the contract upon the recommendation of Wright-Pierce Engineers of Andover, the town’s engineering consultant for the project.

Also on the list of ARPA-funded projects approved by the Selectboard was $1.57 million to upgrade the town’s public safety radio systems.

“An RFP (request for proposals) was issued through my office,” he said. “There was a single response; we had four interested parties take out the RFP. The response we received was from CTA Consultants. They’re from Lynchburg, Virginia, but they have local representation here in the commonwealth and they have done many similar projects here in Massachusetts. So, we’ve awarded that RFP to CTA in the amount of $135,000, and that was the stipulated fee for them to meet.

“We’re going to deal with the supply chain lag for the radio equipment, but it’s good to have a professional on board to help us oversee that project.”

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In his written report to the board, Suhoski explained that—due to supply chain issues—the end date for the contract is December 2025, “although every effort will be made to complete prior to that date.”

The town manager then turned to the status of the $200,000 the board committed to helping qualified Athol residents keep their homes heated during the winter season.

“As of late January, there were 76 income eligible households that received assistance, for a total of $65,060.05,” he said. “Salvation Army is continuing administration (of the program). There’s some help from the Council on Aging, and our town treasurer is tracking all of this.”

As the heating system nears its end, Suhoski hopes there will be some funds remaining to continue this program for next year.

Suhoski said the $50,000 in ARPA monies the board committed to LaunchSpace for improvements to the former Pleasant Street School will be leveraged to obtain another $50,000 from MassDevelopment. LaunchSpace, he explained, is currently seeking architect proposals to design and oversee phase one renovations. In addition, it has landed a $1 million federal Housing and Urban Development grant “facilitated by Congressman (Jim) McGovern for administrative costs and facility improvements.”

Other projects funded by ARPA monies include $50,000 for the purchase and distribution of some 10,000 home COVID test kits—part of a collaborative effort of several area communities led by the City of Gardner; $400,000 to facilitate the transformation of the former Bigelow and Riverbend schools into a 53-unit mixed-income and senior housing development and $10,000 to secure the services of Eric A. Kinsherf CPA to oversee compliance with federal requirements related to the use of ARPA monies.

Greg Vine can be reached at