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Council approves new zoning uses, improvement plan


June 6, 2014
By Carley Dangona
carley@thereminder.com

AGAWAM – The City Council unanimously approved both the Mixed Use Business District and the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2015 to 2019 at its latest meeting.

On June 2, the City Council passed the second reading of the proposed ordinance to create a Mixed Use Business District. At the public on May 19, many residents spoke in favor of the new zoning. Prospective developer Scott Petlock also stepped forward to discuss his vision for the Games & Lanes building.
  
Petlock plans to create an indoor go-cart track if he obtains the building. He has been interested in the Agawam location for a while since a previous site literally fell through after the winter of 2011.

The motion enables businesses and residential dwellings to exist within the district that would be bordered by Walnut Street Extension and the Agawam Shopping Center.

A public hearing regarding the Improvement Plan was conducted during the June 2 meeting, prior to the councils vote. Not one resident spoke for or against the plan.

Councilor Joseph Mineo, chair of the Finance subcommittee, reminded his fellow councilors, “Anything on this plan is just a wish list.” He stated that they must approve expenditures before the town can move forward with any of the projects.
  
“Overall, I think it encompasses the projects on the table for the town,” President Christopher Johnson said. However, he and Councilor Robert Rossi disagreed with the order of priority assigned to the projects.
  
A notable omission from previous plans is the Phase II Southwest Area Sewer Extension Project for Feeding Hills.
   
In the plan, Mayor Richard Cohen wrote, “This project is on the City Council agenda and has been tabled indefinitely. The first phase of this program is complete. The enormity of this project would require that it be completed and funded in phases. It is anticipated that it would be completed in several phases over many years at total cost of over $40 million.”
   
In addition to the Track and Bleacher Repair Project for Agawam High School, the plan requests funds in fiscal year 2017 to renovate the school’s science laboratories, windows, boilers, electrical panel boxes, heating and ventilation systems, lockers and to upgrade the information technology services.
   
The plan also requests improvements to water mains that run from Main Street to Suffield Street and a section on South Street. A replacement for the sewer cleaning truck with a new truck that has larger water storage is also part of the wastewater fund requests.
   
A feasibility study and design of a new town hall are requested for fiscal year 2018. If approved and funded, the construction is anticipated to begin in fiscal year 2019.
   
The need for a new Early Childhood Center was noted in the plan, as the current location on Perry Lane has reached capacity.
   
The Improvement Plan seeks funds for a 30,000 square-foot facility that includes additional classroom space than is currently available, a private bathroom, changing rooms for small children and an area for teachers and parents to conduct conferences.

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