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Wright Builders suspends work on new River Valley Co-op

  • The construction site of River Valley Co-op in Easthampton is seen Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 4/9/2020 6:35:01 PM
Modified: 4/9/2020 6:34:49 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Construction at the site of the future River Valley Co-op has been halted and will not resume for at least four weeks after Wright Builders suspended its building projects over COVID-19 concerns.

The company stopped work at about 10 sites last Thursday, which is when it informed River Valley Co-op of its decision. 

“The only way we can get ahead of this is just to stop,” said Jonathan Wright, co-owner of Wright Builders, who described the decision in terms of  “the tension between livelihood and life itself.”

Rochelle Prunty, general manager of River Valley Co-op, said the business supports the decision. 

Wright Builders has been working on the Route 10 site since February, and Prunty said she’s hopeful work will resume in mid-May.

She said plans called for the new store to open next April, but with the delay, it’s looking at opening in May 2021.

Wright said all physical work ceased on the company’s sites on Monday. The exception he pointed to Wednesday was a single foreman doing cleanup on a site alone with a tractor, which should wrap up soon. 

Aspects of construction make social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 impossible, Wright said, and the company couldn’t call itself a socially responsible employer and continue physical work on projects.

“You can’t drive a nail from across the county,” Wright said. “The risk becomes much more heavily born on the backs of working tradesmen.”

He said the risk hit home when illness struck in one of the contractor teams that works with Wright Builders. 

Wright Builders employees will continue to be paid during the suspension of construction activity, Wright said, adding that the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis, makes that easier.

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