Ayer Lands $750G for Grove Pond Improvements
By Scott Shurtleff
AYER -- A 1,200-foot-long section of the town’s long-suffering Grove Pond area is slated for a major face-lift.
The town has received a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, town officials announced on Monday.
The grant will cover the lion’s share of the estimated $846K project that will replace or upgrade the infrastructure at the city’s Prospect, Oak and Grove streets. Additional funding will come from the town.
Alan Manoian, the town’s director of community and economic development, authored of the grant application.
“We appreciate that this was done internally,” Town Manager Robert Pontbriand said, praising Manoian and his team, DPW Superintendent Mark Wetzel and Town Engineer Dan Van Schalkwyk, who helped with the design. “We saved money that we would have had to pay a consultant.”
According to the grant application, and subsequent approval, the comprehensive project will include rehabilitation of the sewer lines and its eventual tie-in to the town’s mains. Also within the scope are replacements of the old lead water piping to new copper, PVC drainage pipes, new curbing, asphalt replacement concrete catch basins to help mitigate stormwaters, according to Manoian’s grant details, been lacking of improvement for decades.
“The existing condition of the basic infrastructure system seriously, dangerously and effectively deprives the residents of fundamental safety, health, equity, accessibiity, mobility, choice and opportunity,” he wrote.
Also within the grant’s scope is funding earmarked for home improvement for low- to middle-income residents across Ayer.
The new sidewalks will allow for safe pedestrian traffic and will include wheelchair ramps and edge curbing.
“We want to make the area pedestrian-friendly,” said Manoian. “We want to scale the neighborhood to pedestrian-size, not automobile-size. With sidewalks and front porches people get to know each other. And when that sense of community is built, people look after one another.”
“It’s great that they’re finally doing this. It’s going to improve parking, water and safety in the area,” said Chuck Ogilvie, who has lived on Prospect Street for 11 years.
He added that during the day, when Ayer District Court is in session, cars are parked all over the place and drivers speed up the street.
After the small ceremony, Manoian led the group to the Grove Pond section of town, which abuts the courthouse grounds and parking lot. He explained that after completion of the project, “there will be enough on-street parking for residents and for the courthouse.”
Another local resident, Fred Meshna, had mixed emotions.
“It’s gonna be a pain in the neck, and very disruptive while it happens,” he said. “But in the end it will be worth it. I can’t even use the sidewalk,” he added, pointing down at the cracked asphalt that has been usurped by tree roots and battered by plows and traffic.