More money needed to protect landfill cap, build dog park in Amherst

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/17/2021 10:43:43 AM

AMHERST — Necessary protections for the cap at a former landfill are prompting town officials to consider investing another $75,000 into the construction of the town’s first dog park.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek told the Town Council Monday that the additional money, part of $1.325 million expected to be transferred from free cash to the town’s capital improvement program, is needed to ensure the capped landfill is not compromised by the ongoing work that began in summer 2020.

“It’s already a complicated project,” Ziomek said.

But two unforeseen issues developed in recent months. First, wet weather necessitated the installation of subsurface drainage to prevent erosion of the cap and to provide a base for the dog park.

Second, Ziomek said the town never had an accurate survey of the capped landfill, and didn’t have information that the cap extended to Old Belchertown Road, where a parking area is being built.

When the dog park broke ground, the town had $344,550 total available for the project. This included a $225,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation of Cambridge, $90,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Act account and private fundraising.

“Most of the money is coming from other sources. Unfortunately these two issues came up,” Ziomek said.

Ziomek said the capped landfill remains the best location for the dog park, as the site was at no cost to the town. In addition, much of the 53-acre site will be permanently conserved land, including a habitat for the endangered grasshopper sparrow.

Valiant-America of New Bedford was selected to build the dog park with a $280,466 base bid and various alternatives, including water fixtures and shade structures. Valiant is working from designs created by the Berkshire Design Group of Northampton.

Other projects in the capital improvement plan are $1 million for road repaving and repair and $250,000 for sidewalk expansion and repair.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said this money will be used toward putting together bid packages for road and sidewalk projects next year, once a survey of roads is available that will inform the town on which should be prioritized.

“This is a significant new investment,” Bockelman said.


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