Fort Hill Brewery and Hop Farm takes shape in Easthampton
Doug Greenwood and Jason Cabiya, employees of American Steel, work on Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton last week. CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »
EASTHAMPTON - As construction work continues in a field off of East Street, the building taking shape there is starting to look more like its intended purpose: a brewery.
The barn-like building to house Fort Hill Brewery and Hop Farm will likely be completely finished by June, owner Eric Berzins said. “We are on track, the brewing equipment is being delivered from Germany in September, so we’re probably looking at making a January 1 beer,” he said Friday.
Berzins bought the 3-acre property in September to build his dream brewery and grow an acre of hops to use in brewing. He plans to contract with other local growers to use mostly fresh, local hops in his beers.
The foundation for the 9,500-square-foot building was finished in January and a “skeleton” of steel beams now sits atop it. Berzins described the structure as a pre-engineered building that is basically six barns built into one structure. “We found it was the most economic way to build and still be able to be flexible and adjust the design for our equipment,” he said.
The building’s outer shell will be finished in five weeks. “Then it will look like a real building,” he said.
He traveled to Germany in January to find and purchase the best brewing equipment, although he declined to say how much he paid for it. He said it will probably cost him about $2.3 million to get his dream off the ground.
Mayor Michael A. Tautznik plans to ask the City Council for more than $800,000 to fund capital improvement projects, some of which have been put off for years.
This is the first time in nearly two years that the city has been able to check things off its list of goals outlined in the five-year capital plan, which the mayor wrote in 2010. It includes $25.4 million in projects and purchases.
“This year, pent-up demand really forced us to do it. They just couldn’t wait any longer, ” he said of the projects. “We’ve had to prioritize and significant needs have still not been met.”
Capital projects are usually funded in the spring. Last year, the city could not afford to fund any because the clean-up of the October 2011 snowstorm emptied city coffers. In spring 2011, Tautznik said he was able to fund a few of the capital projects by writing them into the fiscal year 2012 budget.
Of the $461,000 in capital projects the mayor has asked the City Council to approve in the last few months, they have OK’d $59,000 so far, including the design of a landfill gas remediation system and a commercial mower for the Parks and Recreation Department.
He said he will soon ask the council to allow two “big ticket” purchases, too: a new ambulance, estimated to cost around $200,000, and a large dump truck and plow for the Highway Department, which will cost upwards of $150,000. He expects to pay for them using some free cash and some short-term borrowing, although he declined to specify how much.
Other purchases the mayor opted to fund include $78,000 to replace two police vehicles, $27,000 to upgrade the city’s computer network domain, and $26,000 for a new passenger vehicle for City Engineer James Gracia. Improvements and purchases in the Department of Public Works — some of which will be funded from residents’ sewer and water fees — include $70,000 for a new sewer flushing machine, $65,000 to upgrade the electrical systems at the Oliver Street pump station, and $51,000 to replace the dump and sander body of a 2003 dump truck.
Items in the five-year capital plan that have not been funded yet include $65,000 in repairs to the Oliver Street animal shelter, $100,000 in roof repairs to Center/Pepin Schools, and $1.6 million to upgrade the White Brook Middle School heating and ventilation system, including repairs so the indoor pool can be reopened.
“I’m pleased we can do what we can,” Tautznik said of this year’s funding of the capital plan. “There are some things we can’t fund because we have to support the budget.”
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.