• ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan
• Belle Fleur, LLC Marijuana Cultivation Project
• Classification and Compensation Study
• Design and Rehabilitation of the Town Commons
• Evaluating & Planning for Resilient Dirt Roads
• Highway and Fire Building Project
• Housing Rehabilitation Program
• Local Rapid Recovery Planning
• Pudding Hill Farm, LLC Marijuana Cultivation Project
• Resilient Master Planning and Open Space and Recreation Planning
• SCADA Upgrade Project at Water Plant
• Shepard Hill Farm
• Town Forest Stewardship Planning
The Town of Blandford was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development to engage a consultant for drafting an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan for our public facilities. The Town engaged the services of the Institute for Human Centered Design who reviewed Town-owned publicly accessible buildings and properties. These reports will be used to identify needed upgrades that can be made during future renovations and funded through Massachusetts Office of Disability (MOD) Municipal ADA Improvement Grants. A public meeting with the consultant is anticipated for Monday, March 6 with a deadline of Friday, March 31 for all public comments.
On January 14, the MA Cannabis Control Commission issued a Tier 11 Provisional License for marijuana cultivation. The site location for the proposed project is located at 140 Otis Stage Road. An application for a special permit was approved on May 5, 2021. Currently, the project is in process of getting all of its building plans and permits submitted for review of the Planning Board. It is being proposed to build a 78,476 SQ. FT. two story building. Of the 74,746 SQ. FT., approximately 27,500 SQ. FT. is proposed to be used for canopy cultivation. A host community agreement has been negotiated between Belle Fleur and the Select Board and approved.
In 2021, Blandford was awarded funding under the Community Compact Cabinet’s Best Practices program to develop a formal Wage and Classification Plan. Such plans detail job descriptions, employee grades, and salary ranges, thus providing municipalities with a tool to make pay decisions that are reasonable in comparison to similar work being carried out in all areas of town government. The Town contracted with the Edward J. Collins Center at UMass Boston to carry out a study which would form the basis of this plan. Throughout 2021, the Collins Center worked with the Town to document current positions, salaries, stipends, and wages. Additionally, the Center surveyed 17 surrounding communities for comparison purposes.
The final report is available for download here. Town employees reviewing the report should be aware that position titles and compensation may not reflect the most current information in all cases as the study was undertaken in 2021. Those interested in reviewing the full survey results of surrounding communities, or those with additional questions, should contact the Town Administrator.
The Town has contracted with GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. for professional engineering and landscape architectural design services that will help the town guide rehabilitation efforts of five Town-owned parcels known as the “Town Commons” which are located at the juncture of Route 23, North Blandford Road, and North Street. The scope of the project will include not only drafting a cohesive and resilient plan for the Town Commons, but also to include the realignment of North Blandford Road to meet route 23 perpendicularly. By doing so, not only can we make the intersection safer and in-line with MassDOT specs, the Veteran’s Park area of the Town Commons may be expanded and be continuous with the Historical Society property and the hillside behind it, instead of being separated by a roadway. The result of this project will be a plan that incorporates the Town’s goals and objectives which include:
- Reconfigured North Blandford Road and improved Highway (later Fire Station) access
- Revitalize Town Commons
- Celebrate the Site’s historical significance
- Provide for low maintenance, slow growing ornamental trees and shrubs
- Revision of Veteran’s Park area and placement of monument/s, cannon, cannonballs, flag pole, new monument/s, lighting
- Restore Town Commons hillside-cleared of invasive plants, protect trees
- Allow for pedestrian connectivity/accessibility
- Design with climate resiliency/sustainability
It is expected for the design to provide accessible routes as practical for people of all abilities, and depict a revitalized, cohesive Town Commons. GZA will identify ways to promote climate resiliency through landscaping and stormwater management. Where practical, GZA will introduce bioretention swales with deep‐rooted plantings and free‐draining soils that will aid in storing stormwater between storm events. Furthermore, as practical, GZA will propose locally‐sourced materials as opposed to materials that are imported and have larger “environmental footprints”.
Collaborating with Chester and Middlefield, the Town has received a two-year Municipal Vulnerability Planning (MVP) Action Grant to conduct a regional assessment of the vulnerability of rural dirt roads within the context of climate change. Dirt roads are critical in the connections they make, especially to schools, jobs, health care services, local village centers, and other commercial centers in the region. The network of dirt roads in just these three towns make up more than 60 miles of roadway. An analysis of these road systems in Blandford, Chester, and Middlefield will enable all three towns to better understand dirt road vulnerabilities and priorities so that each can program investments that lead to greater resilience across the transportation network in the Hilltowns.
The Town has contracted with City Point Partners for Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) services to help guide the Town through the process of getting to construction phase of building a new highway department facility and re-purposing the existing highway department facility as a new fire station. It is expected for the OPM to help guide the Town’s decision-making process with reliable cost analysis, constructability reviews, and construction oversight. This project is being pursued to help right-size the needs of both the highway department and fire department who have both outgrew their existing facility arrangement. To support the department needs, a newly configured municipal campus for these departments will protect our assets and enhance the utilization and life of trucks, plows, backhoes, and roadwork materials, as well as improve the efficiency of Fire Department services. The need for this new facility is critical for the Town to care for roadways and property, as well to provide the necessary emergency response services for residents.
Click to review RFQ proposal submitted by City Point Partners
Click to review project scope
Read the Frequently Asked Questions (updated May 2023) regarding the Fire & Highway Facility Project here
The Town of Blandford was awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the MA Department of Housing and Community Development to coordinate a Housing Rehabilitation Program for eligible homeowners to make necessary repairs to improve the quality-of-living conditions in the effort to eliminate unsafe or unhealthy living conditions for qualifying homeowners that earn up to 80% of the median income. Through this program, income qualified homeowners can apply for up to $40,000 in non-interest bearing deferred payment loans. This is a payment-free and interest-free loan, based on a 15 year forgiveness schedule. Some of the eligible projects through this grant includes:
- Chimney or foundation repair
- Lead paint/asbestos removal
- Septic repair/replacement
- Well repair/replacement
- Roof repair/replacement
- Storm window installation
- Plumbing/heating/electrical systems
- Handicapped accessibility
- Wall repair
The Town contracted with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to coordinate this program on the Town’s behalf. A portion of the grant will be to engage a consultant for drafting an ADA Compliance Transition Plan at our public buildings.
The Town worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) on Local Rapid Recovery Planning efforts to develop a set of short-term actionable objectives for post-pandemic transition that reflect the needs and priorities of local businesses and residents. A local stakeholder group worked with PVPC from mid-June to mid-August to help guide and assist our rapid recovery planning efforts with their ideas and opinions as various projects are considered, refined, and ultimately included in the final plan.
LEARN MORE: (link will open in a new window)
Local Rapid Recovery Plan
This proposed project is a cannabis cultivation micro-business with cultivation canopy of roughly 150 SQ. FT. The site location for this proposed project is 1 Julius Hall Road. A host community agreement has been negotiated and accepted between Pudding Hill Farm, LLC. and the Select Board.
The Town received a Massachusetts Vulnerability Preparedness Grant award for $102,824 to develop a climate resilient focused Master Plan for the community, including an update to the Open Space and Recreation Plan. The Town worked with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to execute the project. The planning process and resulting document assures integration of nature-based solutions and climate resilience with the Town’s land protection and recreation development work. The project also included researching and drafting improvements to Blandford’s stormwater management regulations and other code as appropriate to integrate nature-based solutions and green infrastructure.
The Town of Blandford recently entered into a contract with Wright & Pierce for the design phase of upgrading the SCADA system at the water plant. The Water Treatment Plan was built in 2006 and currently uses a manual operation for Raw and Finish Water Pacing and Control. Pre-identified difficulties include:
- Ozone Disinfection and its effect on the Schmutzdecke Layer;
- The Slow Sand Filtration System – lack of level control, backwash control, and chemical dosage monitoring issues;
- Lack of an integrated automation system that would provide reliable monitoring control, trending, and alarming.
The need for these upgrades came after receiving a letter from the MassDEP with a directive to address recent Haloacetic Acids (HAA) and Trihalomehtanes (THM) violations. The Town hired Wright-Pierce as a first step in understanding and eventually addressing these violations with future SCADA and process upgrades/enhancements. Key findings included:
- Ozone ineffectual as it kills Schmutzdecke Layer;
- No Level Instruments and Control of Filter;
- No flow control, potential overflows;
- No automated backwash valves and control;
- No backup power for instruments;
- Main PLC will be designated as obsolete 12/20/2020;
- Soda Ash PLC is obsolete;
- Insufficient PLC Inputs and Outputs for any upgrades;
- No computerized alarming; limited alarm dial-out information;
- Unmanaged Ethernet Communication Switch;
- SCADA Computer Operating System (OS) is no longer supported;
- No file backup system for; OS, programs, and applications;
- Some instruments are obsolete.
It was concluded we need automation and SCADA upgrades to both the plant’s chemical dosing, filter control, and data collection/reporting systems.
The Town was granted the Shepard Farm property in 2009 by the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission for historic preservation and land conservation. It is located in the General Knox Historic Trail Area and is locally significant due to its history, landscape, and for agricultural and recreational potential. Reactivation of the site has proved challenging due to the nature of the Conservation Restriction on the property, deteriorated state of the farmstead structures and location far from the town center.
In spring 2023, the Town partnered with the Conway School of Landscape Design to create a vision for hiking paths, a trailhead and more at the 120-acre-plus Shepard Farm site. Over the next few months, a graduate student team guided by members of the Town’s Historical and Conservation Commissions is meeting with residents and walking the site in an effort to understand how the farm and forest’s history and recreational opportunities can be better highlighted. This project, funded in part by a New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) trailhead grant and a Baystate Health Community Benefits grant, will result in concepts for improved recreational use of the Shepard Farm property. You can see the student team’s presentation on draft concepts below.
The Town of Blandford owns roughly a thousand acres of forested land, including properties in Conservation and surrounding our drinking water supply. The duties of the Town’s Agricultural Commission include “promot[ing] and support[ing] the pursuit of…forestry in the Town both as a business and a community resource.” To that end, the Commission will be working in concert with the Town Administrator and other relevant public bodies to put out an RFP for forestry services in 2023. The end result would be a management plan for each cluster of Town-owned forest with the goals of enhancing the health of our woodlands, creating a revenue source for recreation and historic preservation improvements, and protecting our water and soil quality.
The Agricultural Commission held the first of three anticipated meetings for this effort on December 12, 2022. Download the presentation shown at that meeting here