Reminder Publications | Agawam approves spending on skate park, historical projects

| G. Michael Dobbs


AGAWAM — The Agawam City Council helped preserve the city’s past and looked forward to the next five years of capital investments at its May 15 meeting.

The council approved the following uses of Community Preservation Funds:

  • $39,096 for the rehabilitation of the Agawam Skate Park. Councilor George Bitzas explained that although a previous allocation for the skate park had been approved, the project required additional funding.
  • $46,430 for the historic graves and monument restoration. Bitzas said Federal Hill and Maple Grove cemeteries are considered historic cemeteries.
  • $23,345 for the exterior preservation of the Thomas Smith House.
  • $2,000 for the preservation of a pair of 1855 Hampden County wall maps. Although more than $6,000 had been allocated by the council in the past, Bitzas explained more funds were needed to complete the framing.
  • $5,742 for the documentation of the Joseph and Malvina Beaumier Confectionery Store and Garage, one of the surviving late 19th century commercial buildings in North Agawam. “Before the demolition of the structure, the Agawam Historical Commission wishes to document the current conditions of the building, techniques and physical measurements through detailed architectural designs,” Bitzas said. Councilor Cecilia Calabrese added the project would create a record of the building if anyone wanted in the future to reproduce it.

Mayor William Sapelli presented a five-year capital budget with Treasurer-Collector Chris Caputo in a public hearing.

Sapelli said because it is a five-year plan, he and his administration must predict future needs, knowing well that unanticipated events might change the plan.

“It’s a moving target. Some people say it’s a wish list when it hits years three, four and five,” he noted.

In fiscal year 2024, Caputo said that among the appropriations, which will be funded through free cash, will be $608,000 to update equipment at the Department of Public Works; $191,000 for three police vehicles; $650,000 for the paving of Springfield Street; $500,000 for sidewalk and infrastructure improvement; and $500,000 for design and study costs for a new high school under the Massachusetts School Building Authority process.

In all, the budget is  about a million-dollar increase over FY23’s capital spending, Caputo said.

The budget for FY24, which begins July 1, 2023, also includes ongoing bond payments on previous projects like repairs to the library roof, wastewater projects and water service projects, Caputo added.

As he spoke about projected fiscal year 2025 appropriations, Caputo cautioned the council to keep in mind that prices might change.

“The way the economy has been, prices have been all over,” Caputo said.

The biggest planned expenses that year would be $2.1 million to replace the Fire Department’s aerial truck and $682,000 to the Department of Public Works for equipment costs.

Caputo said FY26 is the first year the plan becomes “extremely speculative.” He said the town is projecting additional vehicle costs for the police, fire and DPW, which also carries over to FY27. If a new high school is built, Caputo said that FY27 would be the year the town’s share would be bonded.

FY28 is the “most speculative year we have,” Caputo said. He added it is believed there will be a need to replace two fire trucks that year, for an estimated cost of $1.8 million.

The council voted to accept the five-year plan.The council then conducted a budget workshop about the town’s new budget year with the mayor in anticipation of a vote and final discussion at its meeting on June 5.

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