Amherst panel details $7.7 million in capital expenditures

AMHERST – More than $1.5 million in road repairs, $2.87 million in vehicle purchases and $350,000 related to repairs to Crocker Farm School’s gymnasium floor and HVAC system are among the recommended projects for capital expenditures in the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

In a final memo to City Manager Paul Bockelman, who will incorporate the report into a City Spending Plan presented to City Council this spring, the Joint Capital Planning Committee is proposing $7.71 million in capital spending, of which 4, $4 million related to new projects.

The capital plan is based, in part, on $5.72 million from a 10% property tax levy, an increase from the 8.5% levy this year. The figure meets a target and guidelines set by the city council and Bockelman.

One of the biggest items is $1.59 million for road repair and resurfacing, which includes $841,883 from the state’s Chapter 90 money, with the remaining $750,000 coming from the city. An additional $200,000 will go to sidewalks.

The report notes that roads are a focus even as the city begins to set aside money to pay for the Big Four construction projects, with the Jones Library expansion and renovation coming in 2023, a new primary school that could open by fall 2026 and preliminary discussions. a new fire hall in South Amherst and the new headquarters of the Department of Public Works.

“Prior to planning the four major capital projects, the City Manager continued to make roadwork and sidewalk repair a priority,” the report said.

The report includes $2.87 million in new vehicle purchases, the most expensive being a $1.5 million loan for a firefighter ladder truck to replace the 33-year-old one.

But in the memo, the committee asks Bockelman to explore what the Northampton Fire Department has done: “We recommend asking if a small ‘stick’ ladder truck that usually operates at a lower cost of 1 million dollars rather than the flatbed ladder truck.”

The committee also suggests creating a “risk fund” of $100,000 to protect against price increases and purchase price volatility over the next few months.

“It’s an incredibly great addition,” said committee member Irv Rhodes.

Other vehicles purchased include a new ambulance for $361,500, paid for by loan and direct cash payments, two one-ton dump trucks, with plows, for the DPW, at $278,000 combined, and cruisers hybrid policies at $260,000.

The plan provides $1.06 million for public schools, including a $350,000 loan for resurfacing the Crocker Farm gymnasium floor, where the floor has buckled, and a new HVAC system inside. of this room. An additional $160,000 is for various interior and exterior improvements and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements in school buildings, and $10,000 for HVAC replacements and upgrades.

In city buildings, $251,000 is being spent on ADA upgrades and interior and exterior maintenance, including replacing three gas-fired water heaters with high-efficiency heat-pump water heaters at the Amherst Police Station, the North Amherst Fire Station, and the North Amherst School Building. , and $200,000 for sustainable improvements to city buildings. These are part of $835,342 for facilities.

The plan also includes $55,000 to demolish the building that once housed the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in the Larch Hill Conservation Area. “The city has no use for the building and should not invest funds to maintain it,” according to the report.

Other expenses include $75,000 for dam and levee repairs and studies, $66,000 to purchase a rough mower at the Cherry Hill Golf Course, $40,000 for a human resources department compensation study and $24,000 for shelving in special collections at Jones Library so items can be moved. areas where they were damaged and have since been covered in plastic.

A citizen’s request for $50,000 presented by District 5 Councilor Ana Devlin Gauthier to pay for a study on how to make Middle Street safer for pedestrians and cyclists is not moving forward. The proposal came following a petition from Middle Street residents Rob and Lisa Moore, who are concerned about the narrow road which has no sidewalks or escape route.

“We are concerned about security here,” Rob Moore told the Joint Capital Planning Committee at a recent meeting. “It seems likely that sooner or later someone will be affected.”