NORTHAMPTON — A representative from Toole Design presented an environmental review of the incoming Picture Main Street project during a public meeting on Jan. 22 at the Northampton Housing Authority to show what impacts the project will have on the surrounding environment and public health.

According to Stephanie Weyer, a landscape architect from Toole Design, the project will have limited impact to endangered species, threatened species and historical or cultural buildings in the area.

“There is no critical habitat in the project zone,” Weyer said.

Additionally, Weyer said during the meeting that there will be no change to protected public space during construction, like that of Pulaski Park, and all storm drains will be covered as part of the plan for dust and sediment controls.

Weyer also stated that there will be no wetland impacts and no increased burden to public health. The review says that there are no new sources of emissions or pollutants, and drainage will be improved to increase resiliency for big storms events.

During construction, around 10 rain gardens will be going in along with plantings throughout the rain gardens.

“Their purposes is threefold: to filter out some pollutants, to slow the flow into the site and to handle some of the flow volume overall,” Weyer said, of the raingardens.

The environmental review also describes the impact the Picture Main Street project will have on trees in the area. According to Weyer, 27 out of the 39 trees in the project area will be initially removed, but by the time the project is done, those 27 trees will be re-planted along with 54 more.

“As part of the construction phase … there’s going to be temporary loss of trees and canopy, and by temporary, we do mean trees will be removed and you are going to experience several years of it looking different,” Weyer said. “These trees will be replaced, increased, and there will be an overall canopy gain.”
All of the trees within Pulaski Park will be protected during construction, according to Weyer.

The Picture Main Street project in general, which costs $21 million, has a goal of providing a safer functioning downtown area with improved accessibility for all users.

The project begins west of the intersection of Elm and West streets and extends approximately 0.4 miles east to the intersection of Market and Hawley Streets.
The proposed design from the city provides one travel lane in each direction on Main Street with a center running flush median that will afford space for turning vehicles at key locations.

Additionally, bike lanes are proposed on both sides of the roadway separated by a buffer and the project also calls for expanded sidewalks so there is more room for people to walk.

Other amenities like enhanced lighting, tree plantings, bus stop accommodations, reconfigured parking — including the proposed elimination of 57 spaces — and dedicated spaces for loading and deliveries are part of the proposed design.

During the environmental review meeting, Weyer said that the project will support more physical activity since there will be wider sidewalks and updated curb ramps that meet ADA accessibility standards.

“A lot of them will be wider than they are today; they’ll have better slopes than they have today,” Weyer said. “It’ll be an overall better environment for traveling along with whatever mobility device you have … what we’re doing with all of the reconstruction of Main Street is improving access for people with wheelchairs, with walkers in and with strollers.”

The project in general is currently in the 75% design phase. The final design phase will include some engineering and file documenting with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act office. Construction is expected to run from 2025-2028.

Readers can learn more about other recent updates around the project by visiting past Reminder Publishing coverage on the matter: https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/northampton/northampton-city-council-approves-resolution-suppo/.

Readers can also follow updates on the project by visiting the city’s Picture Main Street website: https://www.northamptonma.gov/2547/Picture-Main-Street.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts