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Streets plan eyes improving South Deerfield’s downtown

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A Complete Streets plan now under consideration will seek to improve the town center in South Deerfield, including this intersection of Sugarloaf and North Main streets. PAUL FRANZ

A Complete Streets plan now under consideration will seek to improve the town center in South Deerfield, including this intersection of Sugarloaf and North Main streets. PAUL FRANZ Purchase photo reprints »

— The empty business windows on Elm Street, the sprawling gray pavement and the speeding traffic could all be eliminated from South Deerfield if the town implements its newly proposed Complete Streets plan.

Jason Schrieber of Nelson Nygaard, a national transportation planning group, this month presented the completed report, “Downtown Deerfield: Complete Streets and Livability Plan,” to help improve the town center.

The report is funded through a $60,000 federal Department of Housing and Urban Development grant secured for the town by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

This is the final draft report compiled with the input of residents who participated in a series of meetings in November.

Nelson Nygaard designed the plan to make it easy for the town to implement. The cost of most of the proposals put forth are within the existing highway department budget.

The goal of Complete Streets is to improve walking, biking and transportation safety in the downtown. Essential to that is reactivating the streetscape to balance spaces for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users. This could be done, Schrieber said, with improved crosswalks, which should be no less than 12 feet wide. To break up the pavement, the town could turn the streets into a community easel with sections of street art. And on North Main Street, trees could be planted to decrease pavement.

“You guys have way too much pavement,” Schrieber said. “You could use this as traffic calming.” The town could also create bike lanes to support cyclists coming into South Deerfield through the Franklin County Bikeway.

The idea is to attract businesses to set up shop, while taking advantage of vacant parcels like the Oxford property.

In February, the town put the 16.3-acre century-old property on Jewett Avenue up for sale, leaving it up to potential developers to propose ideas.

Schrieber said local transit companies are also key to the plan.

Franklin Regional Transit Authority will provide future connections to Amtrak service in Greenfield or Northampton as part of the rerouted Vermonter service. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority also runs south to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Complete Streets plan will be included in the final FRCOG report to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The full report is on the town’s website at deerfieldma.us.

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