The city on Monday, March 27, began fully enforcing new parking regulations that increase the rates for spaces closest to Main Street and eliminate time limits on most metered parking. The hours of enforcement are now 10 a.m. to 5, 7 or 8 p.m., depending on where you park Mondays through Saturdays, The old hours were 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new rules that were approved by the City Council on Jan. 5, took effect on March 13. Violators were issued warnings for two weeks, but that ended Saturday and ticketing began Monday. Parking is free on Sundays.

Parking rates change depending on the time of day and day of the week. Some meter fees have been decreased. A permit for the E. John Gare Parking Garage increased from $90 to $110 per month.

The changes were adopted after a consultant’s analysis last year, with findings presented at two public forums in June, including one for downtown businesses. Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra said the city is trying to make it easier for downtown visitors to find parking near their destination.

A map of downtown parking lots is available at

Winter Street

Work on the Winter Street reconstruction project began last week. The project includes replacing water and sewer mains and connections to property lines, reconstruction of the road, paving driveway aprons, and replacing sidewalks.

There will be a new sidewalk the full length of the street on its north side, with segments on the south side connecting driveways to front entrances of homes. All sidewalks will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Caracas Construction Corp. of Ludlow will work on the project generally between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., with occasional extended afternoon hours. The contractor will maintain access for residents as well as delivery and emergency vehicles. Residents will be notified of water and sewer interruptions needed for new service connections.

A city Department of Public Works representative will be on site during construction. Residents with questions or concerns also may email them to [email protected].

The construction schedule will be updated weekly through the link at the top of this page:

The City Council last year unanimously approved the acquisition of easements over the property at the dead end of Winter Street for drainage improvements, including disconnecting storm drains from the sewer system and installing a gravel storm-water spreader. The project follows damage caused by two water main breaks in recent years.

Redevelopment of 196 Cooke Avenue

The city’s Office of Planning and Sustainability will hold a public forum about the redevelopment of 196 Cooke Ave. from 6 to 7 p.m., Monday, March 27, in the City Council chambers at 212 Main St. Participants also may comment via Zoom at:

The former Moose Lodge on the site was demolished last year and the city now owns the property. A draft development design for four affordable housing units will be discussed Monday.

Parking for people using the Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area also will be maintained. The Department of Public Works recently regraded the parking lot to eliminate potholes.

The proposed plan is available at:

Division of Community Care director

Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra announced March 20 the appointment of Kristen Rhodes as the first director of the Division of Community Care, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rhodes, who began work March 13, will oversee the division’s mission to provide alternatives to police responses for some public safety emergencies, including mental health, substance use, and other crisis calls. Four civilian community responders are expected to be hired this spring, and after training, the division will launch a pilot program by mid-summer.

Rhodes has experience in education and human services, developing and managing services for adults and children. She has a master’s degree in education from Springfield College.

Sean Donovan, who last year served as implementation director for the Division of Community Care, resigned in December.

Establishing a Division of Community Care under the Board of Health was a key recommendation by the Northampton Policing Review Committee in its report, “Reimagining Safety,” issued in March 2021.

The Division of Community Care will be housed in the Community Resilience Hub at the former First Baptist Church, 298 Main St.

Northampton Rehabilitation and Nursing Center redevelopment

Valley Community Development Corp. continues work at the site of the former nursing home at 737 Bridge Road for redevelopment into 60 units of affordable housing, and provides this update:

You may have noticed the fences and increased activity around the old Northampton Nursing Home at 737 Bridge Road. That’s because Valley CDC has begun to clear out the asbestos-containing materials from the building, thanks in part to a grant from the MassDevelopment Underutilized Properties Program. There is a lot of asbestos in the building, so we anticipate this work will continue to around May or June. Later this summer, Valley should learn if funds have been awarded for the renovation of the building. If awarded, we anticipate construction of the 60 new apartments to begin in spring of 2024. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact William Womeldorf, the project manager at Valley CDC at [email protected]