Winter Street
The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the acquisition of easements over the property at the dead end of Winter Street so the Department of Public Works may proceed with drainage improvements, including disconnecting storm drains from the sewer system and installing a gravel stormwater spreader.

The project follows damage caused by two water main breaks in recent years, and the process includes working with neighbors abutting the approximately 70-foot long and 33-foot wide parcel at the dead end of the street, each of whom will be paid $1,000 for the easement.

The next step is a hearing at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, June 23, during a virtual meeting of the Conservation Commission. Here is the link to the agenda:

Plastic reduction ordinance
The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to delay until Oct. 31 the effective date of a new plastic reduction ordinance approved in January 2021. It was originally scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2022, but was first delayed to July 1 and now to Oct. 31, largely because retail businesses and restaurants are still coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I agreed with comments made by Amy Cahillane, executive director of the Downtown Northampton Association, that city officials should take more time to educate businesses and work with them to implement the new restrictions. I concur that the enactment of this ordinance should be a partnership and not punitive.

The ordinance bans Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic, take-out containers and requires prepared food to be packaged in biodegradable, recyclable, reusable or compostable containers. It also incorporates the existing prohibition on single-use plastic bags.

Water restrictions
The city Department of Public Works earlier this month implemented a water-use restriction for users of the municipal water system to ensure a sustainable water supply and to protect stream flow for aquatic life.

Non-essential water use is banned between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. That includes irrigation of lawns and watering of gardens, flowers, and ornamental plants by means of sprinklers or other mechanical devices (watering with a hand-held hose is permissible); washing of vehicles other than by commercial car wash; and washing of exterior building surfaces, parking lots, driveways or sidewalks, except as needed to apply paint, preservatives, stucco, pavement or cement.

Violators are subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, and $200 for second or subsequent offenses.

Household hazardous waste collection
Pre-registered Northampton residents may bring hazardous household waste to the annual collection event for safe disposal between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday, July 16, in the rear parking lot of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School at 80 Locust St. No walk-ins will be allowed.

Unwanted household products with labels indicating the need for special handling or disposal will be accepted, as well as rechargeable “button” and other non-alkaline batteries, fluorescent bulbs, ballasts, and mercury-bearing thermostats and thermometers. More information and a list of accepted items is available at

The city will cover the disposal cost of up to 25 gallons or pounds of material for city households. Residential participants will be required to pay a disposal fee for additional materials. Disposal fees will also apply for fluorescent bulbs ($1 to $2 each), antifreeze ($4 per gallon), and ballasts ($3 each). Online pre-registration is required by midnight on July 9 at City residents without computer access may call 413-587-1570 to register. Registered participants will select a 30-minute appointment window.

Northampton small businesses and institutions may qualify to participate on a fee-based basis. Call 413-587-1570 for details.