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Middle Street one of many with parking issues; new Parking Committee to study the tension

— Middle Street residents aren’t the only ones dealing with congested parking on their street due to a successful business next door.

The same thing has happened on Massasoit Street, where the Hampshire Regional YMCA’s rapid growth over the two decades has forced Y customers who can’t find a spot in the parking lot to park on the street.

Ward 2 City Council Paul D. Spector, who lives on Massasoit, said the issue has been tough to address because of the contradictory viewpoints of residents who live there.

“We haven’t been able to get agreement from the neighbors themselves about whether it’s a problem or not a problem,” he said.

Other than small agreements in which the Y staff agreed to park along the street instead of the lot, a long-term answer is still elusive, he said.

From Massasoit to Middle to numerous streets in other wards throughout the city, the parking tension between businesses and homeowners who live nearby will be one of the major topics a new Parking Committee will seek to address starting this spring.

That committee is currently being created under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Parking Commission. Ward 3 City Councilor Owen Freeman-Daniels, who is heading up the committee, said the panel will likely study several solutions including resident-only or permit parking, a pay system or other ideas.

Freeman-Daniels said the Parking Committee should be up and running in the coming weeks, though it is still looking for members from the public to join. To apply, visit www.northamptonma.gov/tpc/.

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Zero waste effort in infancy

The “zero waste” effort in the city may soon get a boost with the formation of a special committee.

Zero waste is a long-term strategy to reduce to zero the amount of garbage sent to landfills by reusing, recycling and composting materials instead. The concept gained traction in recent years as the city began to plan for the closing of its Glendale Road landfill.

With that closure now just two or three months away, the Board of Public Works is considering creating a Zero Waste Committee. The committee would use a technical assistance grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to hire an expert to help it come up with a zero waste plan for the city.

Creating such a committee is one of the recommendations that came out of a special Solid Waste Reduction and Management Task Force created to address the city’s trash alternatives in light of the landfill’s closure.

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Dam removal under review

Officials from the state’s Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, or MEPA, will visit the city today for a “scoping session” to review plans to remove the Upper Roberts Meadow Dam.

MEPA is reviewing an environmental notification form filed by the city that asks the state to waive requirements of a larger environmental impact report.

The state has labeled the dam in Leeds as “high hazard” because of its poor condition, and the Board of Public Works is moving to demolish rather than repair it.

Today’s meeting is open to the public and begins at the Department of Public Works offices, 125 Locust St., at 1 p.m., followed by a visit to the dam off Chesterfield Road.

The public can comment on the project through Feb. 22 by writing to the Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs, 100 Cambridge St., Suite 900, Boston, MA 02114, Attention: MEPA Office, referencing the Upper Roberts Meadow Reservoir Dam.

Chad Cain can be reached at ccain@gazettenet.com

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