Hatfield earmarks last ARPA money for capital needs at Smith Academy, Senior Center

Hatfield, Smith Academy.   O4-14-2023

Hatfield, Smith Academy. O4-14-2023

Staff Writer

Published: 06-18-2024 12:44 PM

HATFIELD — Most of the remaining federal American Rescue Plan Act money Hatfield still has in hand will go to a series of capital projects, including improvements to Smith Academy and at the Senior Center.

With around $240,000 that still must be designated, the Select Board last week voted unanimously to support recommendations from the Capital Plan Committee.

Dave Keir, speaking on behalf of the Capital Plan Committee, recommended taking care of some small things using $206,000.

The most expensive, at $73,000, is upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Smith Academy. Keir said part of this work will be improving building thermostats, adding that School Superintendent Conor Driscoll explained that there were many expenses over the past few years to fix the systems.

Fixing the floor in the Council on Aging, located in the lower level of Memorial Town Hall, will cost between $75,000 and $100,000.

Town Administrator Marlene Michonski, though, said she expects the price to be less than $75,000, but still needs more bids for the work.

The front porch at the fire department building will be replaced at a cost of $25,000. This will include fixing the door and overhang facing School Street. Keir said this has been a problematic egress since it was connected to the Milkman School, which was torn down several years ago. The Milkman School was so named because it was the first school in town where children were delivered milk.

The other projects that will get ARPA money are replacement of the freezer unit on the roof at Hatfield Elementary School, which will cost $21,000, and fixing fire department administrative software, at a cost of $12,000.

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Keir, also speaking for the Comprehensive Plan Committee, wondered if some money should be targeted for protecting and planning for continuity of essential services in the flood plain. Keir said there is a need to plan ahead, and maybe move services out over time, if climate change impacts the town center, where Town Hall, library and public safety are all located.

Select Board Chairwoman Diana Szynal said she is worried that water and sewer infrastructure project on Routes 5 & 10 may continue to swell and money should be available to cover those potential costs, though Michonski assured her no additional overruns are expected.

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