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Construction In Great Barrington: What’s Done, What’s Starting, And What’s Down The Line

A brick building sits behind a green lawn.

The Great Barrington, Massachusetts Selectboard meets again tonight.

The September 17th meeting began with an executive session in which the Selectboard and the Zoning Board retired to separate chambers at town hall to discuss ongoing litigation with the owners of 11 Roger Road. The trucking business owned by Gary and Kristin O’Brien just north of Great Barrington’s center has been at odds with both the town and its residential neighbors for years. After a failed attempt from the Selectboard to finish the standoff over the property at a special town meeting in August by buying the land, the conflict continues in the courts. Tonight’s meeting is also set to begin with another executive session on the matter.

“I have a couple of things to update everyone on in terms of construction projects," said Great Barrington town manager Jennifer Tabakin, who detailed the projects underway to make structural improvements to the town of about 7,000. “This past week there was the bid opening for the 25-ton roof mounted AC unit at the library, and Pittsfield Piper was the low bidder at $51,398 and there’s six to eight weeks lead time on the unit, so that project is moving forward.”

From rooftops, the town’s construction projects moved to the subterranean.

“We’ll begin to replace approximately 150 feet of sewer line of Castle Hill Avenue in the next two weeks," said Tabakin. "An inspection of this line showed several places where the clay tile line has collapsed. This project is about $12,000.”

Joe Wilkinson Excavating of Sheffield will be carrying out the work.

“Marking Inc. has begun the annual line painting work," Tabakin continued. "This has been delayed due to weather, but completion is expected in the next 10 days. Marking was the low bidder on the Berkshire County bid. The cost is $25,000.”

Tabakin said the Selectboard is still waiting to hear from MassDOT concerning painting the town’s crosswalks. She also said a project approved by town voters at the 2017 town meeting had been finished.

“The town hall roof and repair is complete, and except for two punch list items — so as you can see, town hall and the surrounding area is complete, and we were pleased with the work they did and that progressed pretty well and on schedule,” Tabakin said.

Capeworks Roofing of Westport was the contractor behind the repairs to the historic building, which was constructed in 1874 and had suffered from water damage due to leaking caused by what the town described as “inferior plaster.” $150,000 of the $237,000 total cost came from the town’s Community Preservation Act, with the remaining $87,000 from town funds.

Tabakin provided an update on a project town officials had told WAMC they hoped would begin in August.

“Notice to proceed has been given to Northern Construction for work on Bridge Street, School Street, Church Street, and Railroad Street," she said. "This contract is for $2.1 million. $1.9 million came from the Mass Works grant, and $200,000 came from town funds and the prior year chapter 90.”

Tabakin said that meetings with contractors for the downtown construction had occurred and that schedules would be made available soon.

After an update on the town’s Knob Hill drainage project — Pittsfield’s Maxymilian construction won with a low bid of just under $300,000, with work expected to finish in November — the town manager revealed a major step forward for a project with significant implications for downtown Great Barrington.

“MassDOT — so, big news is MassDOT’s project review committee has approved the initial application for $6.9 million to rebuild South Main Street from St. James to the Senior Center,” Tabakin announced.

The town wants to invest in sidewalks along the street to “make the area walkable” along the north-south corridor.

“This is the first step to be eligible for the transportation improvement funds," said the town manager, "and it takes several years to get that planning process through, but this is an extremely positive step.”

The Massachusetts State Transportation Improvement Program is a collaboration between the commonwealth’s department of transportation and a variety of state agencies that focus on highway and transit projects.

Tonight’s Great Barrington Selectboard meeting is scheduled for 7 in town hall following a 6:30 executive session with the zoning board.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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