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Housing renovations among projects for state grant sought by South Hadley, Southampton

The towns have partnered in a regional Community Development Block Grant application because they have similar needs, said Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Deputy Director James M. Mazik.

Housing renovations are among the projects proposed in both towns. There are currently 13 applicants for housing rehabilitation in South Hadley and eight in Southampton, said Mazik at a public forum during the South Hadley Select Board meeting.

The board approved a community development plan, which must be submitted to the state a month before the Feb. 14 application deadline. This plan includes making an area that encompasses the South Hadley Falls neighborhood and extends slightly north to include the town senior center on Dayton Street the target for the grant money.

South Hadley Falls Neighborhood Association Chairwoman Gillian Woldorf, of South Street, voiced her support in focusing the grant on the Falls section because it has the densest population in town and it has the greatest need in terms of housing rehabilitation.

“We have to look at what the town needs right now,” she said.

She added that she applied for housing rehabilitation for her own home in 2010 and the work has not been done.

Also part of the community development plan is declaring the building at 50-52 School St. in South Hadley, which the town obtained due to the non-payment of property taxes years ago, to be “slum and blight.” The demolition of that building and a redevelopment planning strategy for that property are among the projects that the grant would be used for in South Hadley.

Declaring a property to be “slum and blight” means the town recognizes it as an unstable structure that could be a threat to health and safety, Mazik explained after the forum. Showing a need for the elimination of “slum and blight” is among the criteria for receiving the grant money, he said.

South Hadley also seeks to use the grant for sidewalk and lighting improvements to Newton Manor, a federally subsidized housing complex on Lathrop Street. Heidi Heisler, executive director of the South Hadley Housing Authority, and Constance Clancy, vice chairwoman of the authority’s board of commissioners, both voiced their support of that project.

South Hadley and Southampton also both seek to use the grant to study how public agencies comply with accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A public hearing will be held in South Hadley Town Hall at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 21, where residents of both towns can air final concerns or changes can be made to the application before the South Hadley Select Board votes to submit it.

The South Hadley Town Hall is handicapped-accessible. Anyone who requires special accommodations for the next public hearing should contact Town Hall at 538-5017 at least one week in advance.

For further information, Mazik can be reached at 413-781-6045 or jmmazik@pvpc.org.

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