Town Services Overview
Public facilities define a community. Parks, schools, and recreation areas become gathering places and activity centers. The patterns of roads and the availability of sewer and waste disposal define the patterns of growth. Schools, fire stations, and other local facilities like libraries are important to the future of a community.
The public forum held in Charlemont identified the need to draft a Capital Improvement Plan. This Master Plan recommends that a townwide capital planning process and budget be undertaken to encompass each of the town departments. Instructions for this process can be found in appendix X of this Master Plan Document.
The town services section addresses:
GovernmentWaste DisposalPublic EducationSolid and Hazardous WasteLibraryWastewater TreatmentSchoolsRegional ServicesPublic SafetyElder ServicesPoliceHealth ServicesFireTransportation
Town Hall and the Tyler Memorial Library
The Town Hall houses the local government offices, the Charlemont Historical Society, and the Tyler Memorial Library. The Hawlemont Regional School also has a library for use during school hours.
Charlemont students attend Hawlemont School, located in the town center, from kindergarten through sixth grade. This school is shared with the town of Hawley and had an enrollment of 155 students in 2001. Secondary students attend the Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Buckland for the seventh through twelfth grades. The Academy at Charlemont, a private school, operates in East Charlemont. The school was established in 1981 and moved to its current location in 1989. Enrollment at the Academy is limited to 100 students, grades seven through twelve. In 2000, 85 students were enrolled, 95% of whom were day students and 5% of whom were boarders.
Police and Fire Department
Charlemont's fire department is run solely by volunteers. The police department does not have a full-time staff. A total of 108 hours a week of local police service is provided by the town and grant money. Fifty hours of police service and ten hours of administrative service are paid for by the town, and an additional 48 hours of service is paid through grant money. The rest of the time Charlemont is patrolled by state police.
Solid and Hazardous Waste
A number of landfills have been closing around New England in the last ten years. There are several reasons for landfill closure, including lack of space, environmental concerns, and the will of local community groups. However, the major reason is Subtitle D of the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which mandates the closure of unlined landfills.
Since 1989, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has conducted environmental assessments of operating town landfills, which is the first step in the closure process. After landfill operations cease, capping of the site requires three to four months' work, usually July through October when the weather is most conducive to earth-moving functions. The procurement of funding to cap landfills presents a challenge to towns, as costs average $100,000 per acre for capping. In addition, groundwater testing and monitoring at neighboring sites must be maintained for up to thirty years.
Wastewater Treatment and Water Supply
Charlemont has a "Recirculating Sand Filter" type wastewater treatment facility (FRCOG, 1998a). This facility serves the town center. The remainder of the town is served by private wells and septic systems. The wastewater treatment facility is designed to process 500,000 gallons of waste per day and was working at 48% capacity in 1998. The plant uses a "compost" type of sludge treatment system and the effluent is disposed of in the Deerfield River (FRCOG 1998a).
The Community Health Program of FRCOG assists local Boards of Health in the area. The program provides assistance in many local inspections and other Board of Health duties such as Title V percolation tests, condemnations, litter complaints, court actions, lead paint determination, and education workshops on current issues. Fifteen hours of free Health Agent Service is available to all towns in the Franklin County/North Quabbin area (FRCOG, 1997). Franklin County Home Health Care provides services to the town, including the Meals on Wheels program, a limited transportation service, and medical programs (FRCOG 1997).
The FRCOG Engineering Program provides services such as land surveying, highway design, roadway layout, MEPA permitting, representation at MHD hearings, computer system advice, drainage design, highway records research, and assistance in consultant selection for communities, organizations, and individuals. It is a fee for service program (FRCOG, 1998b).
Local Government Assistance
The Resource Development Program assists communities in locating resources for their specific needs. A free one hour initial meeting is available, after which it is fee for service (FRCOG 1998b). The Cooperative Purchasing Program provides bidding, contracting, and troubleshooting services to municipalities and non-profit organizations.
Goal: Provide essential and effective municipal services in order to satisfy the needs of residents and visitors in Charlemont.
Objective 1: Commit sufficient investment to ensure continued adequate provision of town services. (fire, police, emergency management, sewer, library).
1.1 Monitor the demand on all town services and the cost requirements of these demands.
1.2 Integrate the above costs and demands into a Capital Improvement Plan that plans for future improvements (see attached documentation).
Objective 2: Examine the feasibility of hiring a Town Manager for Charlemont.
2.1 Conduct a cost/benefit analysis.
2.2 Look at similar towns for comparison of best practices.
Objective 3: Increase communication between town offices and residents.
3.1 Establish a community newsletter.
3.2 Place a public notice board in front of the Town Hall.
3.3 Place a public notice board at the Charlemont Post Office.
3.4 Place a public notice board in East Charlemont at the transfer station.
Objective 4: Improve investment in educational opportunities for children and adults.
4.1 Review Mary-Lyon Education Fund School Survey to determine the needs of Charlemont families.
4.2 Apply for grants for arts and sciences enrichment and create a town resource bank.
Objective 5: Develop adequate services and facilities for the town's elderly population.
5.1 Identify where elderly members of the town live and determine whether their needs are being adequately met.
5.2 Coordinate with existing blood pressure screening and Meals on Wheels programs to better serve the elderly citizens of Charlemont.