Belchertown mobile home village getting new water system

Pine Valley Plantation is in the southern part of Belchertown.

Pine Valley Plantation is in the southern part of Belchertown. FILE PHOTO

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 04-24-2024 10:07 AM

BELCHERTOWN — The state has approved funding for a new $6 million water system at Pine Valley Plantation Mobile Home Park to replace the park’s 45-year-old water pipes.

Pine Valley Plantation, in the southern part of town across from Cold Springs Country Club, is a resident-owned mobile home community for people age 55 and older. The 147-acre park is home to about 550 residents who buy shares of the cooperative to own and live in the park.

The community’s water system, which brings water from the park’s four wells to 389 homes, often leaks or breaks and requires frequent maintenance.

“It’s antiquated and falling apart. There’s constant water main breaks underground which have to be located, dug up, isolated, and repaired,” Pine Valley Plantation Cooperative Corp. President Richard Kelleher said.

The Pine Valley Plantation Water System Replacement Project will replace four miles of underground water pipes, including all mains, distribution pipes and laterals going to each home. It also entails repaving 5½ miles of roads dug up to replace the piping.

“After they announced we were approved for the loans, (residents were) ecstatic about it. There’s a little anxiety about the construction aspect about it and the roads being torn up, but they’re willing to go along with that because they know the outcome will definitely be worth the inconvenience,” Kelleher said.

Kelleher hopes the loan will cover the entire cost of the project, but the cooperative will look for other funding sources if the state loan does not cover the entire cost. Residents will fund the loan payments through the monthly maintenance fee.

Kelleher is anxious to get started on the project. With all the water leaks, the park has come close to the maximum water allocation issued by the MassDEP. With the new water system, the cooperative won’t have to issue in-park water bans or prohibit heavy water uses such as washing cars.

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Funding for the project is part of more than $1.4 billion in low-interest loans and grants from the State Revolving Fund (SRF). These funds are provided to improve water quality, upgrade aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and promote energy efficiency measures at water treatment facilities across the state.

The process is run by the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, a joint effort of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, and the state treasurer’s office.

“Ensuring the residents of Pine Valley have access to clean, reliable drinking water has been a priority since I took office last year. I am thrilled to know this project will be financed through the state’s Clean Water Trust and the residents of Pine Valley will no longer have to worry about their drinking water,” said state Rep. Aaron Saunders in a statement

Now accepted into the program, Kelleher said the cooperative is currently filing paperwork to finalize the SRF low-interest loans. After the loans are finalized, the project will go out to bid. Kelleher hopes to put the project out to bid in the next six months and get construction finished in the next year or two, but the timing depends entirely on when the loan is issued.

As part of the announcement, state Rep. Jake Oliveira said that with Pine Valley Plantation’s successful application, “these significant and vital funds will help to enhance our water infrastructure and safeguard public health in Belchertown, building a more sustainable and resilient future for all.”

Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.