South Hadley, Amherst and Plainfield receive $5-plus million in economic recovery grants

  • Route 116 in South Hadley FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2020 3:42:12 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 3:41:58 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Three Hampshire County towns have received state grants totaling more than $5 million to support road safety, housing and economic development.

South Hadley, Amherst and Plainfield received $2.71 million, $1.5 million and $998,000, respectively, in MassWorks funding as part of a state initiative to encourage economic recovery.

In South Hadley, the grant will support safe, accessible bicycle and pedestrian roadway improvements in the area of Newton and Lyman streets, including the vicinity of the Woodlawn Shopping Plaza. The plaza, which once hosted a Big Y that closed in 2013, was purchased for $2.4 million in May 2016 by co-owners Rocco Falcone, president of Rocky’s Ace Hardware; Peter Picknelly, CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines; and Andy Yee, owner of several Pioneer Valley restaurants. The plaza’s owners have been making efforts to revitalize the shopping center by attracting new businesses and creating affordable apartments. 

The grant will allow the town to improve streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks in the area in coordination with a MassDOT program, according to Town Manager Mike Sullivan, and will also help to create new jobs.

“We hope that it will make the area more walkable,” Sullivan said. “We are adding 70 units of affordable housing as part of the mixed-use project, and we want to make sure that people have different modes of transportation.”

The improvements will “enhance the livability” of the area for residents of a planned housing development at the plaza, according to Sullivan. The housing development, called “The Park at Woodlawn,” will likely start construction in the spring, he said. Springfield-based Way Finders rental assistance organization is assisting with the project.

The state expects that the grant funding will create 14 permanent jobs, and Sullivan said that 30 to 40 jobs will likely be created between various projects developing around the plaza, including a Northampton Cooperative Bank that opened earlier in the year; A PeoplesBank; and a new, larger Rocky’s Ace Hardware and garden center.

The project also “pairs nicely” with the ongoing $11.4 million Senior Center construction in the same neighborhood, Sullivan said.

In Amherst, the grant will support future development of the Pomeroy Village center in South Amherst at the intersection of West Street, Pomeroy and West Pomeroy Lanes, according to the town’s website, and will improve pedestrian and traffic safety through means such as expanded sidewalks, bicycle accommodations, and street lighting, the state noted. Additionally, the funding will benefit two Environmental Justice neighborhoods, according to the state.

The town’s application included developments along a 150-acre golf course frontage that the town is set to acquire and a proposed apartment complex on West Street.

In Plainfield, the nearly $1 million grant will be used to repave and repair "extensive roadway damage to a major east-west thoroughfare," according to the state. If not repaired, this damage would require "wide detours out of town.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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