Grant funding walkway improvements around Amhert’s Bangs Center


Staff Writer
Published: 3/5/2021 10:07:21 AM

AMHERST — Access to the John P. Musante Health Center will be improved and new outdoor gathering spots on Boltwood Walk are being created using money received from the state.

A $192,600 grant from the Department of Transportation’s Winter Shared Streets and Spaces Program is funding the projects around the Bangs Community Center, which houses the Amherst Senior Center and the Boltwood parking garage.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday that plans in development for several years by the Planning Department would create a new ramp and walkway system, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, that will bring those who park on the ground level of the parking garage to the health center, on the lower level of the Bangs.

Plans shown publicly in 2017 have a concrete ramp, with railings, that would run 85 to 90 feet between where the covered handicapped parking spaces are located to the lower entrance. There would be two landings, including one with benches.

The project will also make it easier for the seniors who live in downtown, such as at Ann Whalen Apartments and Clark House, to move between their homes and other sites.

A crosswalk in front of the Bangs is being upgraded and the town will work with the Council on Aging and Senior Center Director Mary Beth Ogulewicz on identifying and promoting walking routes, through signs and programs, that elders can use for exercise.

Previously, the town upgraded a pocket park near the Bangs that caused issues with loitering, and pledged to improve Pleasant Walk, a path that brings pedestrians from North Pleasant Street businesses to the parking garage.

“This significant investment in the core of our town center, and the center of our senior population, will make the entire area accessible to those with mobility issues,” Bockelman said.

The Musante Health Center opened in 2018 and provides primary health and dental care for underserved populations. It is part of the Hilltown Communuty Health Centers network.

Other grant funds will be used to make improvements to and purchase furniture for the Boltwood garage plaza so the site can be activated for gatherings, dining, performances and public art.

Last summer, the town installed several tables there so people who got takeout from restaurants, like Antonio’s and Bueno y Sano, could dine outside. The plaza also features a defunct public art exhibit known as “Poem Windows” that electronically displayed poems written by local students and others 20 years ago.

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