The operating total does not include the town’s contribution toward the annual budget of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, the school committee of which has yet to adopt its own budget, though its deliberations started Thursday night.
Town manager Mark Pruhenski acknowledged that the costs for the emergency repair of the Division Street bridge, which are currently unknown, would be in addition to whatever it costs to perform a permanent repair or replacement.
Proposals for how to use the cannabis revenue windfall will be discussed by the selectboard and the finance committee in the upcoming deliberations for next year’s budget, with voters having the final say on how to spend free cash at the annual town meeting in May.
The town’s Master Plan recommended that bridge repairs be prioritized in the town’s five-year capital improvement plans. The town has taken action about its deficient bridges in priority order as the Plan recommended.
Whether one lane of the Brown Bridge is closed during construction or whether it is shut down altogether, the construction will be a major disruption to traffic, especially considering the fact that the town-owned Division Street bridge was closed by the state in the second week of September.
At Monday’s Great Barrington Selectboard meeting at the Claire Teague Senior Center, concerns ranged from traffic, speeding, and the impact the closure of the Division Street and Cottage Street bridges are having on businesses and residents alike.
Why are our bridges failing? Whose fault is it and why is nothing done until it’s too late? Not surprisingly, part of the problem is money. It costs $4-5 million to replace a bridge so it isn’t something the town takes lightly.
At issue is the fact that the Conservation Commission, which, on the local level, enforces the state Wetlands Protection Act, is also charged with enforcing the town’s own wetland bylaw, which is somewhat more stringent than the state law.
The Berkshire Hills school committee is expected to vote Thursday night to approve its own spending proposal of $26.2 million. The vote to approve it is almost a foregone conclusion after last week’s quiet and harmonious public hearing.
2018 has provided enough Great Barrington news to keep journalists busy and observers of town politics highly amused, signaling that the community dubbed “best small town in America” by Smithsonian Magazine continues to be a place in transition.
The rickety-looking bridge has long been the subject of complaints and concerns of nearby residents and passersby who have questioned its structural integrity and the appropriateness of allowing large vehicles such as dump trucks and semi-tractor trailers to rumble over its pockmarked decking.