Westfield City Council accepts state road grant

WESTFIELD – The City Council took immediate action last night to accept a $2 million grant to reconstruct, and realign, Airport Industrial Road and authorized Mayor Daniel M. Knapik to sign the contract for the grant.
Finance Committee Chairman Richard E. Onofrey Jr., requested the council members approve a suspension of the rules to allow approval of the grant and contract agreement at the request of the administration.
Ward 4 Councilor Mary O’Connell requested that Council President Christopher Keefe allow City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley to explain the administration’s request for immediate consideration.
Daley said that while the city has been qualified for the grant of $2 million through the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to reconstruct the exterior access road, Airport Industrial Park Road, in the northeast corner of Barnes Regional Airport, but that the grant was conditional on certain actions by the city.
Daley, who is managing that project, said that the city had to gain control those properties to secure release of a $2 million road reconstruction grant and that there is a timeline to qualify for state reimbursement.
“We need to hit the marks to have the grant expended by June 2013, or risk losing a portion of the funding,” Daley said yesterday. That June deadline coincides with the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
“This was awarded a year ago, but we had to do the initial work and to own all of the property, which was just approved (by the City Council),” Daley said. “There is a stringent timeline.  All of the work has to be completed by June 30, 2013 for reimbursement, so we have a draw-down schedule.”
Daley said said the land takings opened the door to the $2 million state economic development grant and that the city is prepared to enter the second phase, construction, of the project.
Part of that delay was due to the state funding mechanism. The project is being funded through the Massworks Infrastructure Program, which, Daley said, did not exist until August when approved by the Legislature, and that initially the city applied for the road reconstruction funding through a jobs program.
“There was no contract under the MassDevelopment Infrastructure Program because the program did not exist, legally, until Aug. 1 (2012) and the standard state contract could not be signed, were holding up this project,” Daley said.
Daley said that anticipates the R. Levesque & Associates will complete the the design phase by late October and the construction contract will be awarded by Thanksgiving to allow the contractor to begin preliminary site preparation including tree removal and demolition of an abandoned house.  The actual road work will not begin until the spring thaw.
The current access road between North Road and Elise Street, where there are a number of industrial and aviation-related tenants including Gulfstream, is currently a hodge-podge of street fragments, including two segments of Apremont Way, and a segment of Old Stage Way. Daley said the current road does not conform to the city’s zoning requirements for an industrial park road.
Daley said the city will also be installing a large water main, 12 to 16 inches, to provide improved service to existing firms and future tenants of the Airport Industrial Park, as part of the road improvement work.

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