Jack Hornor, Ron Skinn donate $20,000 for Grove Street Inn improvements
NORTHAMPTON — Amid the depressing financial news for the city emerges a bright spot. Northampton residents Jack Hornor and Ron Skinn donated $20,000 to the city this month for upgrades to the Grove Street Inn, the city’s 22-bed transitional and emergency shelter for the homeless. The funds will be used to give the building at 91 Grove St. a much-needed paint job.
“I am so privileged to have such caring residents in Ward 6 like Jack Hornor and Ron Skinn, who look at our mission of the Grove Street Inn seriously,” Ward 6 City Council Marianne L. LaBarge said.
LaBarge, who chairs the city’s Committee on Social Services and Veterans Affairs, credited Hornor and Skinn for their continuous donations to make the shelter a safe place for the homeless to sleep and get needed services.
The pair have donated significant sums in the past, including for its last paint job, LaBarge said.
Northampton isn’t quite a biker’s paradise, but it’s getting closer.
According to a recent “bike score” study of more than 100 large and small communities nationwide, the city ranks 33rd.
The study is conducted by Walk Score, a Seattle company that rates communities on a number of factors including biking, walking and other modes of transportation.
Northampton scored 62.6 out of 100, meaning the city is “bikeable” because it has some infrastructure. Northampton is among the smallest communities in the study that also includes large cities like New York, Seattle and Boston.
Cambridge tops the list with a score of 91.5. Scores between 90 and 100 are considered a “biker’s paradise,” 70-89 are “very bikeable,” and 0-49 are “somewhat bikeable.”
A score is based on bike infrastructure such as lanes and trails, hills, destinations and road connectivity and the number of bike commuters.
Wayne Feiden, director of the Office of Planning and Development, said the information will be useful as the city explores ways to improve. One idea is to add a bicycle lane on the remainder of Route 9 from the high school to Florence center, he said.
“Just as our bronze rating for bicycle friendly cities implied, we are ahead of the vast majority of communities and we should be so proud of what we have done, but we need to do a lot more,” he said in announcing the score last week.
The city’s effort to help homeowners go solar through a state program called Solarize Mass is moving at a nice clip.
A Solarize Northampton team has selected Real Goods Solar as the community’s designated installer, a national company with offices across the Northeast and West. The company will help Northampton residents buy small-scale photovoltaic systems at discounted prices through the Solarize program run by the state’s Clean Energy Center.
Real Goods Solar will provide specific prices for solar panel installation in a bulk-buy format. The Clean Energy Center is expected to soon hold a forum to introduce the installer and provide more specifics for homeowners.
City traffic expert
moves to state
Laura Hanson, the city’s point person on everything traffic, recently left her post in the Department of Public Works to take a job with the state Department of Transportation. She will work out of the District 2 office in Northampton.
Department of Public Works Director Edward S. Huntley said the city is advertising the position and hopes to have a new traffic expert on board soon.