Prepared by: The Springfield Department of Public Works & The Springfield Board of Public Works
What is a Private Way?
A Private Way is a street or Right of Way which has not been fully accepted for various reasons as a city street and may not be up to public standards. By law the city remains free of liability for these ways. Most private ways were built by private contractors during the cities building boom of the late 40's and 50's. These ways were needed to accommodate the cities demand for new housing due to the rapid growth in its population. Standards exist today which further controls this type of new road construction.
What is the City's Role in the Conversion Process?
The City or Developer must prepare and record an engineering plan of the street by licensed civil engineers that meets all the legal and design requirements before it can be made a Public Way (for example, description of easement, grade of street, drainage, sanitary sewers, width of the way, etc.). The City then must create a legal document describing the exact locations of the traveled way and account for all land use encompassed by the street and its purpose.
Who Can Request that a Private Way be Converted to a Public Way?
Any resident of the City of Springfield can begin the process of filing a petition but it takes at least six residents to make a petition valid. Also, the Director of Public Works or the Planning Director can initiate the process as per city ordinance.
What Does the Conversion Process Entail?
First, a petition to request a public hearing for the conversion must be made to the Board of Public Works. The Board of Public Works prepares the petition which requires six signatures by Springfield residents. The Board of Public Works then conducts a public hearing to discuss both the feasibility of the conversion and the potential costs of the conversion with the residents of the street (typical cost to the abutter is approximately $8.00 per foot of frontage per city ordinance). Abutters can voice their support or opposition at this hearing. The Board of Public Works then recommends to the City Council action based on the public hearing. The City Council then decides whether to proceed with the conversion or not.
Steps to Take if You Want to Convert Your Private Way to a Public Way.
1. Meet with your neighbors to see if agreement exists for the proposed conversion from a private way to a public way.
2. Contact the Springfield board of Public Works to create the petition which will require you to get six signatures by Springfield residents. (call 413-787-6213)
3. Return the signed petition to the City Clerk (413-787-6094) who will validate the signatures and forward the petition to the Board of Public Works who will analyze the request with city engineers based on economics, public need, and technical problems that may exist with the street.
4. Be aware that many obstacles may occur to stop or delay progress of a private way conversion. These include width of the existing right of way, the street may not have the required sanitary sewer or the land may be part of wetlands and subject to Conservation Commission approval.
5. If at this point a major obstacle hinders the conversion of your street other solutions may exist such as temporary re-surfacing of the private way also known as the 50/50 program since costs are divided equally between the city and the he abutters as per city ordinance.
6. If no obstacles to conversion exists and the Board of Public Works approves the Conversion they will present it to the City Council and the Mayor approves the conversion the private way then becomes a public way. The City of Springfield then assumes responsibility and liability for the street and it will be constructed to public way standards.
7. After the City completes the street construction the abutters are currently assessed $8.00 per foot of frontage. Residents have the option of paying their assessment all at once or over a period not to exceed twenty years. The $8.00 per foot rate has been established by the Springfield City Council even though the actual cost to the City for conversion is closer to $110.00 per foot of frontage. Other costs may be involved due to individual circumstances.