Agawam Mayor envisions 'mini-Northampton' for Walnut St. Ext. - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Agawam Mayor envisions 'mini-Northampton' for Walnut St. Ext.

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It's an eye sore for many Agawam residents. The old Games and Lanes bowling alley went up in flames in 2001. Since then, its been vacant. But, new changes are coming and it's not just for that property.

Besides the old property, it's a pretty robust area. Nearby businesses say they'd love to see the neglected building turned into something that fits the neighborhood.

Shopping carts, tires, graffiti and a broken light post stands in front of the Walnut Street Extension property. 

"I think it looks awful. And it's been like that for years. They should either fix it or tear it down," said Phillip Thibodeau. "It's a big piece of property. They could do a lot with it."

It's a blighted area that's been contaminated for quite some time. 

"It is a very, very complex contaminated site that has to be cleaned up," said Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen.

It's now in the hands of a new owner. David Peter plans to redevelop the property.

"We are in the middle of assessing how much contamination there is and what impact it has," Peter said. "There is no significant risk to any neighbors, but we just want to confirm that."

It's good news for nearby businesses.

"It's a big eyesore. But, he is planning on demoing it down," said John Girodano from Agawam Bowl. 

Mayor Cohen says there are more exciting plans for the street.

"All new sidewalks, all new landscapes, on street parking where people can get in and get out of their car, walk along the sidewalk," said Cohen. 

An agreement signed on Tuesday will revamp the entire area.

"Make it a destination site, make it pedestrian friendly and to make it look like a mini Northampton," he said. 

Girodano likes the idea.

"I think it's a good idea because the more they do for this street, the better off we are and the better off everyone is," Girodano said. 

And though a project of this size will take a while, Cohen says he has a vision. 

"They're not going to see something developed here overnight but we're on the road to I think success with this development," said Cohen.

As for immediate changes, Cohen says a fence will be put up on Wednesday.

Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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