COVID-19 testing site to open outside Hampshire Mall in Hadley

  • The Hampshire Mall in Hadley. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2022 11:04:02 AM
Modified: 1/21/2022 11:02:57 AM

HADLEY — A free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, by appointment only, will be opening in the Hampshire Mall parking lot.

Testing123 Inc. this week got unanimous approval from the Planning Board to set up the mobile site in a parking area immediately south of the Target store and east of the Cinemark movie theaters.

Asim Arshad, who is coordinating the project, told the board that the company expects to serve 25 to 50 vehicles in a day, with the site open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He said the recent wave of infection caused by the omicron variant may be diminishing after peaking during and after the holidays, but he is committed to operating the site.

“At the moment I’m going to be there for the next six months,” Arshad said.

There will be two to three employees handling the testing, with people who come required to fill out an application with general information. A website will soon be launched to facilitate the appointment process, Arshad said.

Results of the PCR and rapid tests will be back to people within 24 to 48 hours. “We’re hoping to keep that consistent going forward,” Arshad said.

Two reserved lanes will be established, with vehicles wrapping around the east side of the Target store and continuing along the perimeter of the mall parking lot.

Planners appreciated that Testing123 will have sufficient room to operate at the mall. Arshad previously tried to set up a site in an office inside a building with limited parking at 216A Russell St. That site was going to necessitate using overflow parking on the neighboring lot occupied by Auto Express.

“This is a much better option,” Planning Board Chairman James Maksimoski said.

Still, Maksimoski said he is worried about Arshad “grossly” underestimating the demand for the tests, and that it’s possible 25 people could come per hour, rather than over the course of a day.

In that case, Maksimoski said, “that’s going to be very difficult to manage.”

Hadley Police Chief Michael Mason said the testing site will not be allowed to have associated traffic spill out onto Route 9. “It’s got to stay in the parking lot, a hundred percent,” Mason said.

Fire Chief Mike Spanknebel said vehicles also can’t block access to Target, hinder the store’s delivery docks or interfere with public safety.

As part of the approval, the board set conditions that the east side of Target has to remain clear, meaning that no standing of vehicles can occur alongside the store.

Building Commissioner Tom Quinlan will examine any temporary signs Testing123 will be installing and will work with Spanknebel on pre-opening inspections.

Assuming the opening happens and a lease is signed with the mall, Arshad will be back before the Planning Board on March 1 for a review of how its operations are working.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy