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Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Rural and Small Town Development Fund in Lenox 

LenoxToday, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba, Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs Juan Vega, and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Community Services Division Deputy Director Chris Kluchman were joined by state and local officials in Lenox to celebrate the Rural and Small Town Development Fund awards, which total $4,958,995 to support 25 projects across the Commonwealth. Among the awards, the Town of Lenox received a $181,200 grant to conduct design and engineering for sewer expansion and creation in North Lenox that will support a 65-unit mixed-income rental housing project and developable land zoned for mixed-use, commercial, or multifamily development, and will serve existing businesses and more than 100 homes, which currently depend on dated septic systems.

“The Community One Stop for Growth application portal provides a front door for 12 state programs that exist to help communities tackle local economic development projects,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Among those programs, the Rural and Small Town Development Fund is delivering nearly $5 million across 25 communities this year to support high-impact capital and community planning projects in many of our smallest and most rural towns.”

“The Rural and Small Town Development Fund provides a resource for our smaller communities to address a range of local priorities to support growth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Here in Lenox, funds will help the town begin an important sewer expansion project to support new affordable housing, advance long-term growth opportunities, and move neighborhood homes off aging septic systems.”

“We are thrilled to support our small and rural communities in their efforts to address local infrastructure and set the stage for economic growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “These grant awards create a tremendous opportunity for communities to leverage state funding to accomplish local goals, enhance neighborhoods, and welcome new residents with more housing options.”

“The Rural and Small Town Development Fund is part of DHCD’s diverse portfolio of financial and technical assistance resources to support a variety of community development activities,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox. “We are excited to advance these 25 projects in our smaller communities where roadway, sewer, and other small infrastructure projects can unlock substantial housing and business opportunities for residents.”

The Rural and Small Town Development Fund provides grants for capital and community planning projects in rural and small towns – towns with populations less than 7,000 or with a population density of less than 500 persons per square mile (measured by the 2020 US Census). This competitive grant program awards funds based on the project’s nexus with housing, transportation, infrastructure, economic development, community development, and priorities identified by the Commonwealth's Rural Policy Advisory Commission. Since creating the program last year, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded nearly $8 million from the Rural and Small Town Development Fund to support 41 projects in 35 towns throughout the Commonwealth.

The program is part of Community One Stop for Growth, a single application portal that provides a streamlined, collaborative review process of 12 state grant programs that fund economic development projects related to community capacity building, planning and zoning, site preparation, building construction, and infrastructure. Altogether, this round of the One Stop is awarding more than $143 million in grant awards to support 337 local economic development projects in 169 communities. The full list of grants can be found here.

Through this round of the One Stop, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development received 523 applications from 207 communities representing every region of the Commonwealth. Of the 337 applications awarded, 31% are located in a rural or small town; 32% are located in a Gateway City; and 43% are located in a Housing Choice Community. This investment is expected to directly support the creation of 6,950 new housing units across the Commonwealth, including 5,068 new market-rate units and 1,882 new affordable units.

"Grant opportunities like the Rural and Small Town Development Fund are lifelines for our communities when it comes to addressing their most pressing needs,” said Representative Smitty Pignatelli. “The commitment of Sec. Kennealy and the Baker Administration to support our rural areas has been evident throughout their time in office, and it has been wonderful to see how towns in my district – and across the Commonwealth – have benefited from programs like this."

“We are really grateful to the Commonwealth for partnering with Town on these important planning and infrastructure opportunities,” said Lenox Town Manager Christopher J. Ketchen. “These two projects will work in tandem to both plan for infrastructure needs and unlock additional potential within our community.”

Rural and Small Town Development Fund Awards:

  • Town of Aquinnah – $395,500
    The Town of Aquinnah will design, engineer, and build two rental duplexes, consisting of two one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units serving households earning 80% and 100% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI). The rental apartments will be developed by the nonprofit developer, Island Housing Trust, who will lease a one-acre town-owned property to construct, own, and manage the permanently affordable rentals.
  • Town of Avon – $150,000
    The Town of Avon will update its 2001 Master Plan, bringing together recent standalone plan elements, updating older elements, and incorporating principles of sustainability, resilience, equity, diversity, and inclusion through broad community participation. A major focus will be on meeting the town's goal of leveraging redevelopment of commercial, residential, and other existing land uses through mechanisms to address those principles.
  • Town of Becket – $145,000
    The Town of Becket will revitalize a blighted property to create an affordable homeownership unit. Becket has chosen a nonprofit receiver to redevelop the existing hazard and build a modular home.
  • Town of Buckland – $113,000
    The Town of Buckland will create a community wood bank to provide fuel assistance to residents with limited, fixed income, and no access to other fuel sources. Funding will cover the startup costs for equipment and site preparation to enable the town to maintain a sustainable fuel assistance program.
  • Town of Charlemont – $395,500
    The Town of Charlemont will bring two roads within a subdivision up to the standard of the town's gravel roads to encourage new development within the subdivisions. This will allow for increased development and prepare the road for paving.
  • Town of Edgartown – $160,000
    The Town of Edgartown will complete phase one of the Chappaquiddick Ferry Project as identified in the 2021 Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan. Phase one will include planning, community engagement, and engineering site assessment for the Chappy Ferry landings, parking lots, roads, and surrounding areas located on both sides of Chappaquiddick Island and downtown Edgartown.
  • Town of Erving – $330,000
    The Town of Erving will complete the construction to replace two culverts under Wheelock Street which convey water from intermittent streams and will improve water drainage.
  • Town of Harvard – $250,000
    The Town of Harvard will create plans for the development of Harvard's only commercial zoning district, Ayer Road, by pursuing a three-phase planning approach that will include 1) Market Study and Fiscal Impact Analysis, 2) Corridor Vision Plan, and 3) Zoning and Regulatory Tools. This grant will fund the development of the Corridor Vision Plan and creation of zoning and regulatory tools to enhance the commercial district.
  • Town of Lanesborough – $72,500
    The Town of Lanesborough will prepare a Master Plan for the Berkshire Mall property, by reviewing existing water systems, feasibility, and determining the best focuses for use such as housing and other mixed-use opportunities. This project will provide needed guidance and flexibility for economic development and maintenance needs for the Berkshire Mall Property.
  • Town of Leicester – $395,500
    The Town of Leicester will fund the planning and permitting associated with designating the Moose Hill Reservoir as a Class A drinking water supply and estimate the cost to establish a water treatment plant on the site. Acquiring DEP approval as a Class A drinking water supply for Moose Hill would potentially allow the town’s multiple water districts to supplement/replace their dwindling supplies and reduce or eliminate their purchase of water from the City of Worcester.
  • Town of Lenox – $181,200
    The Town of Lenox will conduct design and engineering for sewer expansion and creation in North Lenox. The design and engineering work will consider feasibility, alternatives, partial design, and bid-ready documents. Sewer expansion will support a 65-unit mixed-income rental housing project, developable land zoned for mixed-use, commercial, or multifamily development, and serve existing businesses and more than 100 homes, which currently depend on dated septic systems.
  • Town of Leverett – $130,000
    The Town of Leverett will produce an engineering report to find long-term solutions to make improvements to Dudleyville Road, a gravel road connecting the village of North Leverett to the neighboring Town of Shutesbury. Dudleyville Road connects Leverett to a grocery store, features many residences, and is a daily school bus route. Currently the road is periodically closed to traffic due to very poor drainage in several areas and collapsed or damaged culverts.
  • Town of Middleborough – $159,275
    The Town of Middleborough will demolish its former Department of Public Works building and parking lot and conduct a feasibility study for redevelopment. Redevelopment options include creating a park to provide access to the river, public recreation, and protection of sensitive riverfront.
  • Town of Montague – $150,000
    The Town of Montague will conduct a comprehensive feasibility study to locate and plan for a biosolids composting facility, either local or regional in scale. A preliminary study offered positive economic and environmental arguments in favor of a facility, and a comprehensive feasibility study will include community engagement. With proper risk (PFAS) mitigation strategies, this facility could stabilize biosolids disposal costs and enhance wastewater treatment system sustainability.
  • Town of Oak Bluffs – $395,500
    The Town of Oak Bluffs will build an enhanced denitrification wastewater system to support 60 multifamily rental units, which will be completed across two phases. Housing will be affordable to residents with incomes between 30%-110% of area median income (AMI).
  • Town of Provincetown, $395,500
    The Town of Provincetown will replace aging water infrastructure to support new commercial enterprise, increase flow to larger users, extend the length of the season that water is available for the fishing fleet, provide reliability to year-round water uses, and allow for safer maintenance and operations on MacMillan Pier.
  • Town of Rochester – $100,000
    The Town of Rochester will update a 2009 Master Plan with a focus on community engagement and planning for long-term success for thriving communities. Rochester anticipates continued growth and a new Master Plan will provide an updated and strategic approach to long-term development.
  • Town of Royalston – $40,000
    The Town of Royalston will conduct a marketing feasibility study of the historic Whitney Hall located in Royalston's South Village. The process will include a citizen survey to gain public input, a detailed market analysis of the South Village area, a breakdown of potential for-profit and nonprofit uses, a marketing strategy, and a list of recommendations for achieving a productive use of this signature building.
  • Town of Southwick – $115,500
    The Town of Southwick will undertake survey, design, permitting, and right-of-way efforts to support the expansion and improvement of an existing sidewalk network along Powder Mill Road to promote alternative modes of transportation. The road is a major connector linking the town center and residential neighborhoods with the regional school district, Whalley Park, Southwick Recreation Center, and American Legion Post 338.
  • Town of Spencer – $130,000
    The Town of Spencer will create a revised Master Plan to include the Open Space and Recreation Plan (2021) and Housing Production Plan (2022). The updated plan will reflect more recent studies addressing affordable housing, expansion of retail and trades zoning, climate change adaptions, renewable energy, mixed-use development, and upgrading of vulnerable municipal resources and facilities.
  • Town of Sterling – $135,070
    The Town of Sterling will continue pursuing the Downtown Revitalization Plan. Phase 2 includes the engineering and design of downtown underground infrastructure (water and sewer) to enable increased activity and attract businesses to the downtown area.
  • Town of Wales – $98,000
    The Town of Wales will hire a design team to evaluate an underutilized space at 5 Main St., including the building, site, and adjacent town-owned parcel, to document conditions and recommendations for repair. The study will include a review of the feasibility of the present site to continue hosting the public access studio, museum, and re-open the meeting room, or other town cultural functions.
  • Town of Warren – $395,500
    The Town of Warren will implement the Prospect Street Improvement Project by replacing 870 feet of water main and installing two fire hydrants, seven water service connections, substantial storm drainage piping, two storm drainage structures, two new precast concrete storm drainage structures, and 1,240 feet of temporary trench repair.
  • Town of West Newbury – $67,500
    The Town of West Newbury will undertake efforts to achieve compliance with Section 3A of MGL Chapter 40A, the Multifamily Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities.
  • Town of Whately – $58,950
    The Town of Whately will create design and engineering plans to complete the water main loop that runs under Egypt Road. This project will complete all of the required activities to produce a shovel-ready project, including land surveying, preliminary design, railroad coordination and review of documents, and preparation of final design, permitting, and construction documents.