Southwick and Granville receive grants from Governor Baker

SOUTHWICK – Gov. Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Gov. Karen Polito recently made developments in their Baker-Polito administration.

The administration awarded $28 million in  community development block grants to 57 cities and towns in the state of Massachusetts.

As they have come so close the last couple years in acquiring a grant towards specific improvements in the community, both Southwick and Granville have been awarded a combined grant of $900,000.

The grant focuses on housing rehabilitation, improvements on Veteran Street in Southwick, and an upgrade to the Our Community Food Pantry in Southwick.

The housing rehabilitation includes nine units of housing. Southwick will receive four units while Granville has been given five units.

“It’s going to be a positive step for Southwick,” said Tom Fitzgerald, the Town of Southwick’s Board of Health Inspector. “It was felt at the state level that Southwick was deserving of this program.”

Jim Mazik, the Deputy Director for Operations and Community Development for Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, helped assist with all three projects including the housing rehabilitation.

Mazik explained that there are no actual recipients for the housing units at this moment but there already are guidelines for it. Owners of the homes have to meet low income. One person who has a salary of $46,000 or less would qualify as two people who make a combined $52,000 or less would be another qualification.

The overall project for the housing rehabilitation for both towns has resulted in a grant of $247, 500.

A second project that will be supported by a grant is the mobile food pantry program. The Public Social Service Program is helping with the funds.

The Our Community Food Pantry provides a wide range of food for their customers including produce. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

The Our Community Food Pantry provides a wide range of food for their customers including produce. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

The “Our Community Food Pantry”, which serves the low-income population Southwick, Granville, and Tolland, has helped create the mobile food pantry in an effort to assist with their customer’s needs.

The food pantry’s customers range from families that have children to single parents, the elderly, and people that live alone.

With a lack of transportation becoming an issue in the past for the pantry’s clients, the mobile upgrade will now be able to extend services to those in need. The food truck would be able to deliver food to the pantry’s clients at the town hall of that respective community.

“The program will deliver food to distribution sites in the hill towns and in the outreaches of Southwick,” said current volunteer of Our Community Food Pantry, Risa Gerrish. “With the creation of the Mobile Pantry we will be able to serve a population that is in need, many of which have not been able to access our services in the past.”

According to Sally Munson who runs the Our Community Food Pantry, she had 3,267 clients last year. From this year’s months of January thru June, the pantry already has 1,434 clients.

“You can see that our numbers are growing tremendously”, said Munson. “We’ve already given out 58,234 pounds of food.”

The form of mobile transportation will be a high-roof van that both Southwick and Granville proposed to purchase. The communities will receive a total grant of $93,500.

With the addition of the Mobile Pantry we will be able to increase the number of clients that we serve,” said Gerrish. “We also help to reduce the hardship caused by the lack of public transportation.”

The third project that was awarded a grant involved Veteran Street in Southwick. Veteran Street is a tight, narrow street that has a dead end, with Congamond Lake on the side of the street. Southwick received a grant of $479,000 for this particular project.

Veteran Street is a very narrow street that has several issues that will be taken care of in the grant. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Veteran Street is a very narrow street that has several issues that will be taken care of in the grant. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Mazik pointed out the situation on Veteran Street.

“The road is in bad shape, there is very serious drainage,” said Mazik.

With there being almost no drainage on the street, the water line on Veteran Street will be replaced, along with two fire hydrants.

A leaching infiltration system would be built towards the end of the street. Having a 12 in. drainage pipe will allow the water to go in the catch basin and then get collected into the ground. With this system, no discharge will go into the lake.

Southwick Department of Public Works is certainly playing a role in this project and helping work on the improvements that can be made on Veteran Street.
“I think it will be a great improvement to the road,” said Director of the DPW, Randy Brown.

“It’s a good fit for these grant funds coming towards the town.”

Select Board clerk Joe Deedy was put in charge to help Mazik identify where the funds can be used. Now that the overall grant is coming to Southwick and Granville, and the Veteran Street project will be started, it is certain that the grant will be put to good use.

“That will clean up the water situation,” said Deedy.

There is also a tree at the end of the street that needs to be taken down to avoid any potential damage.

“Getting the tree out of there, straightening up that road will help the neighbors, especially in the winter,” said Deedy. “It’s a one-lane road as it is.”

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