1. Agawam welcomes new development, plans major projects (Guest viewpoint)

    Agawam welcomes new development, plans major projects (Guest viewpoint)

    At this time last year, I’m sure that no one could have predicted the year that lay ahead. However, before we thankfully turn the page on 2020, we want to express our sincere appreciation to those who have worked so hard to deal with the new landscape that COVID-19 has created. All health and medical professionals must be recognized for their extraordinary efforts.

    Recognition must go to school staff and administration for their tireless resolve to keep the education of our children moving forward. Of course, our business community must be thanked for its cooperation and resolve.

    As we move into 2021, there is the promise of effective vaccines and light at the end of this tunnel. Please know that everyone in the Agawam town administration is committed to explore continued opportunities for additional COVID relief. We will continue to support our businesses, schools and residents until we can all return to unrestricted time with family and friends.

    Agawam is poised to welcome many new developments and infrastructure improvements in 2021. The Morgan-Sullivan Bridge project is on schedule for completion by midyear, creating opportunities for business development in that area. Roadway and intersection improvements at Feeding Hills Center and at Pine and South Westfield streets have been completed, allowing improved and safe access to businesses and the Granger School.

    The Villas at Pine Crossing will produce new housing units for the 55-and-older population. Ground will be broken next door for the town’s planned passive recreation development on the former Tuckahoe Turf Farm property which will be partially funded by the new ConEd solar array located on the northern section of the parcel.

    This will be the second major solar project for Agawam in 2021, complementing the solar array to be developed on Shoemaker Lane by Engie. Vanguard Renewables, which turns waste food products into natural gas while recycling leftover containers, has recently begun operations on Main Street.

    HP Hood, a large contributor to Vanguard Renewables, has purchased the former Southworth Paper property on Main Street and is planning to expand its operations in 2021. Agawam is proud to welcome energy-efficient and environmentally conscious projects in town for their job creation and tax revenue in addition to aggressively addressing climate change issues.

    Agawam has also recently retrofitted its nearly 2,200 streetlights to energy efficient LEDs, which will save taxpayers an estimated $200,000 per year beginning in 2021. Electric vehicle charging stations at School Street Park, Borgatti Field and the Agawam Public Library, among other anticipated locations, will be available for public use during 2021.

    Infrastructure and safety improvements are also scheduled for the Suffield-Rowley-Cooper streets intersection, as well as O’Brien’s Corner and North Agawam. These projects will be funded by federal Community Development Block Grant funds and Safe Routes to School grants.

    There are many reasons to welcome 2021, and we are particularly looking forward to new developments and improvements which will increase the already high quality of life which Agawam’s businesses and residents enjoy. New and exciting projects will be announced as plans are finalized in the coming year.

    For now, let us bid a fond farewell tp 2020 and look forward to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.

    William P. Sapelli is the mayor of Agawam. To learn more about Agawam, visit the municipal website, agawam.ma.us.

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