City projects before conservation board

WESTFIELD – The Conservation Commission will initiate review of three city projects Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the board’s first meeting of 2012.
Two of the projects, one submitted by the Engineering Department and the other by the Westfield Gas & Electric Department, are both related to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.
The WG&E is seeking environmental review of its project to extend a high-pressure gas line from Shaker Road, where it currently terminates, to South Meadow Road, just north of Little River. That project will involve extending the 12-inch pipeline more than 4,000 feet and under Little River.
The gas line is being constructed to transport natural gas from the Tennessee pipeline in Southwick into the city. The line is currently carrying gas at 100 pounds per square inch (PSI), but is designed for a capacity of between 600 and 700 PSI. The eventual goal is to extend that high-pressure line down to the municipal utility’s facilities on Sackett Street.
The WG&E project is currently being advertised, with a bid opening slated for the end of the month. Construction is projected to begin on March 1, 2012 and be completed by May 1, 2012.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti said that the city is also seeking the Conservation Commission review of a plan to pave the Columbia Greenway from the Southwick Line to a point near Tin Bridge where the rail crosses over Little River.
“It’s just under a mile from the Southwick line to a point about 500 feet south of Tin Bridge,” Cressotti said. “We are working in concert with the G&E. The two contractors will be working side by side on these projects.”
Part of the environmental impact review will include construction of up to 60 parking spaces as well as access to the rail trail.
“We are negotiating with Shaker Farms Country Club for access through their existing parking area to an area where we will construct the new trail parking,” Cressotti said. “The goal is to advertise and award this contract so construction can begin in February.”
The advantage of initiating the construction project during the winter is that the ground is frozen and will better support the weight of heavy equipment.
“The notice of intent was filed because there is a resource area, a brook, which goes under the rail trail and into Shaker Farms. The scope of the project extends much further, but stops short of the Little River resource area.”
On Thursday, Jan. 26, beginning at 7 p.m., Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail will host a project update/information session, which is open to the general public. The event will take place at Shaker Farms Country Club, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. for document and other information review. The formal meeting will start promptly at 7p.m.
The third city project is a proposal to extend existing sewer line 1,600 feet from Radisson Lane to Plantation Circle. The sewer extension has been a proposal on the table for nearly 15 years and has been a politically sensitive issue.
There have been several options discussed over the years, put the line under Ashley Brook, or bridge the line over the brook. Both options had advantages and disadvantages as well as cost impacts.
The current approach, being presented by the Engineering Department, calls for installation of a large culvert through which the brook would flow. The culvert would then be covered with soil and the sewer line buried for protection against the elements.
“This is still a very controversial issue because the environmental impacts are severe,” Cressotti said.
The City Council voted two years ago to extend the city’s sewer map to include the Plantation Circle sewer project after residents of that subdivision petitioned for the sewer extension project.

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