| Chris Maza
SPRINGFIELD – The meticulous process through which the Water and Sewer Commission reviews new construction projects was the primary reason for the delay in the building of a Boston Road apartment complex.
Developer Nick Graham had originally pitched the idea for 14 market-rate townhouse apartments designed to attract young professionals in the city’s Pine Point neighborhood with the intention of having the units ready for rent in the fall of 2015.
However, Graham put the project on hiatus shortly before winter set in, leaving only a large dirt pile on the site of the former Russell’s Restaurant at 461 Boston Road and heightening neighborhood residents’ concerns.
While Graham did not respond to a recent request for an update on the project, he told Reminder Publications in December 2015 the project had hit a snag in getting approval from the Water and Sewer Commission.
“[The Department of Public Works] had signed off but [Water and Sewer] kept returning with more comments – five times with a one to two week response period,” he said.
Graham explained the approval process extended into September at which time representatives from his financial institution expressed concerns about the timeline of the project. “At that point I had to change my stance from pushing to finish everything ASAP to taking a more patient view.”
He added, “Being my first development project I went in with the best of intentions trying to move as fast as possible. [I] ended up learning that in this business so much is out of your control and patience is a virtue.”
The Planning Board granted Graham’s plan an approval good for two years on June 17, 2014, according to the Department of Planning and Economic Development.
Documentation obtained from the Water and Sewer Commission reflects Graham sent his initial application for consideration on Feb. 26, 2015 and the commission was in contact with Dana Steele of J. R. Russo & Associates with comments regarding submitted site plans, including materials, policies and missing information over the course of several months.
Graham said in spite of the delay, he anticipated construction would begin in March, however, on March 2, the commission sent another batch of 26 comments in response to a revised site plan it received on Feb. 29, some of which Water and Sewer Commission Senior Project Engineer Georgeanne Hoyman informed Steel were repeats of previous comments that had not yet been addressed.
Issues included proposed materials, such as the use of PVC piping for fire suppression services from the main to the buildings and PVC piping from the main to the metering system, neither of which is allowed by commission.
The comments also pointed out that as currently proposed, anytime work were to occur on the site once the apartments are built, to the water or fire suppression systems for the entire facility would be without water and suggested the addition of shut off valves to prevent this. In addition to other technical concerns and suggestions, the commission also questioned whether the two-inch piping proposed would be adequate to serve the complex and requested additional information on any laundry and irrigation systems for the site.
As of Feb. 29, Deputy Building Commissioner Mark Hebert indicated there was “nothing new to report” regarding the status of any building permits for the property.
According to the city of Springfield’s Office of the Collector/Treasurer, Graham has not made any property tax payments for fiscal year 2016. Outstanding first through third quarter taxes equal $3,566, plus $159 in interest. Fourth quarter taxes are not due until May 1.