Grant money to aid communities in prepping for climate change

  • A regular at Pine Grove Golf Course makes his way down to the green to collect golf balls, May 29. The city of Northampton is set to buy the former golf course and turn it into a permanent greenway. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/10/2020 12:07:30 AM

Restoration of a former golf course as a permanent greenway in Northampton, developing a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Amherst, and making sure infrastructure will be secure from flooding in Deerfield are regional projects benefiting from Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program grants totaling $11.6 million statewide.

Communities in the Pioneer Valley are receiving a range of money from the program, from planning grants for Hatfield, Southampton and Shutesbury, worth $20,000, $22,000 and $27,000 respectively, up to a $572,250 action grant for Deerfield.

In Northampton, the $225,000 action grant will go toward restoring the Pine Grove Golf Course on Old Wilson Road.

Wayne Feiden, director of planning and sustainability, said the golf course will soon be acquired by the city after officials set aside $650,000 to buy the 105 acres.

With the state money, natural drainage will be restored by removing many existing systems, such as catch basins, manholes and drains. Barbed wire and concrete jersey barriers will also be taken away from the property, to help deal with more water runoff as climate change produces bigger storms.

“Restoring the natural systems on this site means that water will stay on the site for longer, supporting wildlife and avoiding downstream flooding,” Feiden said.

Another aspect of the project is growing more trees for carbon sequestration and creating a cooler micro-climate on the site, Feiden said.

The state grant program was initiated in 2017, and is intended to help municipalities deal with the effects of climate change.

Amherst will use a portion of its $100,000 to hire a consultant to develop a climate action, adaptation and resiliency plan with assistance from Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello and the town’s Energy and Climate Action Committee.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said this will move Amherst toward the Town Council’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“This grant will provide additional resources to build out our climate action plan and ensure vulnerable communities are able to engage in the process that impacts their lives most directly,” Bockelman said.

The action grant award follows a $29,000 planning grant last year, which was used to identify vulnerabilities to climate change.

Ciccarello said the grant will also set the town on a path to reduce emissions by the town and schools, and by homes, businesses and institutions.

In Deerfield, residents recently approved a $196,895 match to pay to replace the failing Kelleher Drive culvert, install green infrastructure at Deerfield Elementary School and town center, and update bylaws to promote climate resiliency and low-impact development.

Also receiving grants were Holyoke, which will use $93,850 to complete mapping of impervious surfaces in the city, Pelham, which will get $140,000 to install a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system at its Community Center so the building that houses the library and emergency services can be used during extreme temperature events, and Plainfield, which will have $33,550 to do a culvert replacement and surface repairs on Bow Street.

In a statement, Gov. Charlie Baker said the money shows a commitment to building long-term resiliency in critical infrastructure, and ensuring cities and towns have resources to prepare for the challenge of climate change.

“The MVP program is providing a glimpse at the monumental scale of this challenge, which is why I filed the ResilientMA legislation, which would provide a new and sustained funding source for climate resilience projects,” Baker said.

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


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