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Macksey Gives Updates on Demolitions, Road and Bridge Projects
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:49AM / Thursday, November 16, 2023
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The apartment building on Houghton Street is expected to come down in the next month four years after it was gutted by fire.

Work to replace the West End bridge on Route 2 will start in the next month. At least one lane will remain open to keep traffic flowing but there are concerns of backups with Mass Ave and Brown Street also being closed. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The burned-out hulk on Houghton Street is expected to come down before the end of the year. 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey informed the City Council on Tuesday that a demolition bid had been awarded to Associated Building Wreckers of Springfield in the amount of $237,000 for the Houghton structure and another building on Prospect Street. 
The funding for the demolition comes from the city's American Rescue Plan Act funds. 
"Both sites are considered high with asbestos abatement. So therefore the areas will be completely contained," the mayor said. "So don't get nervous when you see a lot of people with zoot suits on. "Because of the conditions of the building we had to declare it all hazardous. 
"It doesn't necessarily mean that it is but we couldn't get into the buildings because they're in such poor condition to do an adequate assessment."
The concerns over asbestos abatement was one reason for the high cost of the demolition and removal of debris.
The three-story apartment building at 246-248 Houghton St. burned in January 2019. It sustained fire and structural damage and roof collapse. It's been empty and a public safety nuisance for four years now and was put on the city's demolition list in April. 
"I know especially the people in the area will be happy about that," said the mayor.
The structure was known as the Owen Morris House and, according to the city's historical survey, was constructed in 1884, although the city's assessor gives it a date of 1870. It was originally used as a residence and grocery store and built by Morris, who worked at Arnold Print Works. It had four units at the time and a public library branch was located there for about 40 years until closing in 1976. 
The property was sold in April 2020 for $5,000 to Garabed Setrakian of Cambridge, who had planned to raze the building and replace it with a new six-unit building primarily for short-term rentals. He received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for parking in 2021 but has not moved forward with the project although the site has appeared on real estate listings in the past. 
The two-story structure at 86-88 Prospect St. has four units and was built around 1900. It has reportedly been vacant for some time. 
Macksey also reported that the Massachusetts Avenue stormwater work is about 75 percent complete. The street was closed to through traffic between Protection Avenue and Ashton Avenue in August for the second phase of the work that had closed Ashton for months prior. 
"Most of the work that will require us to close the street will be done, hopefully, by the end of the year," she said. "And then depending on what kind of winter we get, will determine how much work we get done between January and spring. So we're planning on closing it out in June."
However, once the road is closed up in the next few weeks, she's hoping that the street can be opened to traffic after construction has ended for the day and on weekends.
The city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a temporary fix for the Brown Street bridge and that mobilization is underway for the $15.6 million replacement of the West End bridge, which will be renamed for the late William F. Evans.
The total cost is $18.7 million funding is through the state and the federally funded Accelerated Bridge Program. The contract was awarded to J.H. Maxymillian Inc.
"It's our understanding that they will do one lane at a time with possible closures at night. So we're trying to coordinate that bridge project with what's going on on Mass Ave and not having the Brown Street bridge," Macksey said. 
"That project will be a very long project so just everyone needs to be patient with that."
She had hoped for the Mohawk marquee to be in place by the tree lighting on Wednesday but it is not to be. It should be reinstalled before the end of the year, she said. 
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