Belchertown Board of Selectmen Approve State School Road Easements

BELCHERTOWN – The Board of Selectmen approved the layout and easement of Berkshire and Whitlock Way on the grounds of the former Belchertown State School as public ways.

Director of Public Works Steven Williams, who appeared before the board on Monday, Jan. 26, said the approvals would qualify the roads for state maintenance aid and provide legal frontage for future real estate transactions.

Williams worked to obtain the necessary easements with the town’s Economic Development and Industrial Commission. The property line of Berkshire Way is split between the EDIC and Belchertown, therefore, an easement is needed.

The board, in separate votes, approved their intention for the layout the public ways and then approved the easements. With the board’s approval of both measures, the Planning Board will have 45-days to review and endorse the plans.

The plans will then go back to the selectmen for their final approval on the road layouts. Any plans will have to be voted on by residents at the Town Meeting in May.

Selectmen Jim Barry thanked Williams and those who worked on the layouts and in obtaining the easements.

“This boundary-line between the EDIC property and the town property was kind of drawn down the middle of the road years ago because someone at the time thought it was a good idea for a boundary-line,” said Barry.

Barry said the boundary-line interfered with development of some of the properties. He said Williams and others got the “ball rolling” in seeking the necessary changes from the EDIC. “We probably could have done this five-years-ago,” said Barry.

Endorse Howard Street Sewer Project Amendment

The board approved an amendment to increase funding for the Howard Street Project. The selectmen approved $10,333.00 for additional work repairs on the sewer replacement project.

The actual increase for the project is $95,013.00, which revises the cost for engineering supervision to $317,546.00. Tighe & Bond of Westfield oversees the engineering aspect.

According to Town Administrator Gary Brougham, the town was about to seek a change order on the project and, instead, put the project out-for-bid for current pricing. The result, he said, saved the town upwards to $200,000.

“The market is primed right now for this type of work,” said Brougham. “Even though it sounds like a bad time to be moving forward for the finances of the town, it’s the right time to be moving forward for the economy and certainly the market. Take advantage of the market.”

Howard Street is the next phase in the Jackson Street Sewer Interceptor Project. Once the weather clears, work will begin.

Selectman Gerald A. Grasso recused himself from discussions and approval of the amendment. Grasso is employed by the Mass. Environmental Protection Agency.

Designate Trench Permitting Authority

Selectmen designated the Director of Inspection Services to oversee the issuance of permits for trench requests. Mass. General Law 82A, known as “Jackie’s Law,” enforces compliance on excavation and trench safety.
Jaclyn Moore, 4-years-old, was buried when an unattended backyard trench collapsed on top of her.

The law requires that excavators obtain a permit before work can begin, it establishes standards for securing unattended trenches, and allows the Mass. Department of Public Safety to issue fines for violations of the regulations.

The permit requires that a “competent” person be listed at the issuance. The person must have a hoisting license, insurance of $100,000 individual and $300,000 aggregate for the client.

Anytime there is an excavation deeper than three-feet that is narrow in relation to its length, it is considered a trench. If the trench is wider than 15-feet, it is exempt, according to Steven Williams.

“The real need of this regulation is not to inconvenience people, it’s to protect innocent bystanders from unattended trenches,” said Williams.

The trench must be guarded by a supervisor onsite during excavation. If the trench is left unattended, the excavator must have either a six-foot fence with gaps no greater than four-inches around it or the trench must be covered with a thick, steel road plate.

Paul Adzima, the current Director of Inspection Services, will be the official permitting authority for the town. A standardized form and fee will have to established, as well as a local bylaw for civil enforcement.


The selectmen approved the appointment of April Czupryna to the Family Center Committee. Her term expires on June 30, 2011.

The board appointed Ken Dorey and Juanita Holler to the Belchertown EDIC. Dorey will serve as the low-income representative and Holler will serve as an associate member on the EDIC.


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