DEERFIELD — The Select Council and Capital Improvements Planning Committee submitted their capital requests for fiscal year 2023 on Thursday, which include upgrading the sewage treatment plant, preserving and renovating the South County Senior Center, the design and construction of the Leary Lot, and the rehabilitation of the town’s commons.
No members of the public attended Thursday’s hearing, which council voted to extend until Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. to give residents another chance to provide input while making final revisions.
Chief among all demands for the coming year is the $3 million loan to fund continued work at the South Deerfield sewage treatment plant. Board member Trevor McDaniel told the capital improvements planning committee that the money would be used to improve the “resilience” of the plan, while increasing efficiency by replacing vent filters and clarifiers, which remove solids from wastewater.
“The second phase of this process involves the lungs of the process,” McDaniel said. “We are one of the biggest energy consumers in the city. … What is happening now is that the quality of our sludge is not very good, which makes it more expensive to dispose of it.
Voters will have to approve the loan at the April 25 annual town hall meeting, then approve a debt exclusion at the May 2 ballot.
McDaniel added that the proposed loan is “a matter of timing” because if the city waits too long, the current contractor’s contract will expire and the city will have to work with someone else. The weather also affects project finances, McDaniel said, because “things get more expensive” the longer the city waits.
“We really want to make sure we can run these things while this contractor is running. We have a great relationship,” McDaniel said, noting that the project is still expected to be tendered. “All the cards are in our favor for him to bid on our work.”
The city is seeking to use $475,000 of Community Preservation Act funding for the engineering and renovation of the South County Senior Center, which was closed due to the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the presence of mold. and asbestos. Over the next few years, the city plans to renovate the building, add an addition, and create a dual-use senior center and municipal office building.
The Select Board plans to use $500,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to fund the redesign of the Leary lot behind Berkshire Brewing Co., which would create additional parking and green space, while also opening access to the brewery and Hamshaw Lumber.
“Our discussion is about economic development with green infrastructure and space for parks,” McDaniel said.
The Leary Lot is one of the first steps in the city’s plans to revitalize the village of South Deerfield over the next half-decade or more as the city seeks to increase accessibility and walkability, which council members believe will lead to increased economic development.
Together with Leary Lot, the council also applied for $350,000 in Community Preservation Act funds for the town’s joint rehabilitation project.
The project, designed by Berkshire Design Group, includes reworked walkways, improved connections for pedestrian crossings and other general improvements. In January, Ad-Hoc Town Committee Chair Kate Lawless said safety and accessibility was the “no.” 1 priority.
“People love the common, and we want to make sure we honor that history and make sure it’s safe and usable for everyone,” she previously said. “That’s our main reasoning behind it. … We really want to make it a place where people can come and see the memorials and feel safe.
Additional requests planned for the coming year include $100,000 from ARPA funding for the police department’s heating, cooling and ventilation system, $100,000 from ARPA funding for a mini-digger for the highway department, and $59,000 free money for a wood chipper for the highway department.
The city plans to release an updated capital projects spreadsheet in the coming days at deerfield.ma.us.