Roundabout construction in Northampton could start as early as Thursday

  • The Skibiski land would be used for an approach to the planned roundabout at the intersection of Hatfield and North King streets. Photographed on Thursday, June 25, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 8/2/2020 1:17:38 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Construction on a roundabout that would go through a Native American site could start as early as Aug. 6, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The roundabout is planned for the intersection of Hatfield and North King streets; according to an archeological dig, it would go through a site that’s at least 8,000 years old. 

When asked for more information about the potential start date, a MassDOT spokesperson wrote in an email that “due to litigation we have no additional information at this time.”

John Skibiski owned the land in question and filed a lawsuit in Hampshire Superior Court arguing that he is the owner of the artifacts found there and asking that construction be paused for further archeological investigation. A hearing on preliminary injunction was scheduled for July 13 but was canceled at a joint request of both parties. Skibiski’s lawyer, John Connor of the Greenfield firm Stobierski & Connor, has not responded to email and phone messages requesting comment. 

Mayor David Narkewicz said he wasn’t aware of a construction start date. “At this point, the city is not directly involved in the decision making around it,” he said, later adding, “it’s 100% state and federally funded, and it’s in their hands at this point.” 

Skibiski’s son, Greg Skibiski, started an online petition, which has received more than 50,000 signatures, that calls on local and state officials to prevent the construction. Last month, the Nipmuc Nation of Massachusetts took issue with the lawsuit and petition and said that it is not calling for preservation of the site at this time, while Elnu Abenaki, a southern Vermont tribe with ancestral ties to the Valley, said it wants to be consulted on the project in the future. 

Northampton has not asked that the project be stopped. “The city has not requested that the project be canceled at this point,” Narkewicz said. “We believe there is a safety issue at the intersection, and we’re hoping they can implement a system that will improve safety.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com. 


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