Around South Hadley: Town hires help to study wastewater plan for proposed Ferry Street condominium project

Friday, August 01, 2014
Before moving forward on a special permit request for a 29-unit condominium complex on Ferry Street proposed by Rivercrest Condominiums LLC, the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission want to see an independent review of the company’s plans to meet the criteria of the town’s storm water management bylaw.

Town Planner Richard Harris said Thursday that he hopes to finalize a contract with GZA Geoenvironmental Inc. of Springfield by early next week to begin a review of how Rivercrest intends to deal with runoff from the 10.8-acre parcel.

At a public hearing during a joint meeting of the two boards on July 29, GZA was selected contingent on it providing positive references as to its ability to provide a neutral assessment of the project. The developer agreed to pay the firm’s $8,900 fee.

Harris said he solicited proposals from six environmental consultants before recommending GZA.

“Now I’m waiting on the references and I’m waiting for the money from the developer and once all that’s done we’ll execute the contract,” said Harris. He expects the review to be completed by the end of August before the Planning Board takes up the matter again on Sept. 8. The Conservation Commission will continue its discussions of the issues Sept. 23.


Biking to Canada

The one thing Shane Robitaille, 44, does not want to be is a “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

For the last four years, since he got into bicycling, that has meant setting unusual goals and then meeting them.

Earlier this summer he fulfilled a life-long fantasy of pedaling out of his driveway on Lithia Springs Road and keep heading north until reaching Canada.

It’s not that he doesn’t have enough to do. Robitaille has four daughters, he works in information technology at MassMutual, he is a reservist at Westover Air Force base, he is on the Violence Prevention Task Force in Springfield and he mentors and coaches young people wherever he goes.

But every summer, he said, he likes to do something big.

The biking to Canada idea came to him last year when he was on one of the 100-mile rides he does regularly and met some people who were on their way from Connecticut to Quebec.

It sparked a memory of when he was a 10-year-old in Chicopee and he and his friends thought that making that ride “would be the coolest thing ever.” They pored over maps and created fantasy trips complete with homemade passports.

Now he was really going to do it.

The first thing he did was to tell everyone he knew in person or on social media about the plan. He couldn’t back out then. “I had dozens and dozens of people saying, hey, make sure you tell me how things go,” he said.

On the road for almost a week averaging 75 miles a day, he had plenty of adventures, like when a paving crew neglected to close the road they were working on an all of sudden Robitaille found himself sinking into soft tar.

“I ended up cleaning my tires and rims with a hairbrush, and managed to get most of it off, but the tires were still covered in a sticky residue,” he said. Forty miles later he found a bike shop where he bought new tires.

He made it to the Derby Line and Stanstead, Quebec, got his real passport stamped and then a friend picked him up and drove him home.

Later this month he is going to ride his bike continuously for 24 hours with just bathroom and food breaks. He already has some ideas for next summer. It might be riding the length of Nova Scotia or riding from his home in South Hadley to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

“Everyone should have a short list the things they always wanted to do,” he said, and everyone probably has “10,000 really good reasons” not to put themselves out of their comfort zones. “None of this stuff is record breaking by any stretch,” he added, “but its significant to me.”


Absentee ballots available

Voters who won’t be in South Hadley for the Sept. 9 state primary elections, or who have physical disabilities or religious beliefs that would keep them from going to the polls, can get an absentee ballot at the Town Clerks office in Town Hall during regular business hours. Applications must be made in writing and the deadline is noon Sept. 8.

For more information call Town Clerk Carlene Hamlin at 538-5017 ext.115.