State, local officials aim for Bridge Street makeover in Great Barrington

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GREAT BARRINGTON — With reconstruction work on Main Street largely in the rear view mirror, town and state officials are gearing up for an ambitious makeover of the entire Bridge Street corridor.

Town officials will host a public meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the Great Barrington Fire Station to reveal state plans for Bridge Street.

This $2.1 million MassWorks grant is not to be confused with a $1 million grant from the state Department of Transportation to refurbish the Bridge Street bridge. The grant which will be discussed on Wednesday is for street, sidewalk and landscaping work on Bridge Street to Bentley Avenue, according to Town Planner Christopher Rembold.

"We don't expect this work to be as intrusive" as the Main Street project, he said. "Much of the work is cosmetic."

But the town is coordinating with the DOT to try to carry out the work on parallel schedules, to try to reduce construction time as much as possible, said Rembold.

Both projects are expected to begin this coming spring, he said.

The work is being done in anticipation of the launch of two massive commercial projects. At 79 Bridge Street, local developer Vijay Mahida is seeking a special permit to build a large, 95-room hotel on the site of the former Searles School.

This has been a controversial plan, as Mahida's proposal to raze the building to retain only the front facade has nettled residents who believe more of the structure should be saved.

A decision by the selectmen on the merits of that plan could come as soon as Jan. 20.

Farther up the street, the Community Development Corp. of Southern Berkshire is preparing to build a commercial development at 100 Bridge Street, the site of the former New England Log Homes business.

This plan, literally decades in the making, has generated far more support, in large part because the site has been such a disaster for years.

"There's a lot going on over there, on Bridge Street," admitted Rembold. "It's going to be a busy place."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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