AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Construction for a 26-acre solar project is set to begin in Amherst to create jobs and provide clean energy.

Amherst acquired the 150-acre former Hickory Ridge golf course in March 2022 and now the town along with the company Fort Solar River 2 is about to embark on plans to revamp that space. According to a news release from the town of Amherst, this property was originally intended for conservation, recreation, and the production of green energy.

The town will construct a 26-acre solar project and already hundreds of trees have been removed from the former golf course to install a 6.44-megawatt solar array and 3,500-kilowatt battery system.

In preparation for the construction and operation of the solar project, the town, and Amp will be a partnership. In an effort to bring renewable energy to all within the town.

The plan for Amherst is to create jobs and empower the region with local affordable energy. The entire property is over 100 acres, more than just what will be used for green energy, and so the town plans on creating space for conservation and recreation as well.

“It will be a win-win for the region,” said David Ziomek, Amherst Town Manager and Director of Conservation & Development. “… We see it long term as a recreation and conservation open space facility with solar as part of that landscape.”

Since the golf course closed in 2018, Hickory Ridge has become an increasingly popular place for hikers, birders, cross-country skiers, and others interested in the natural environment and now the town will focus on making the space even more appealing.

Ziomek told 22News, “Trails there will be lookoff points, picnic areas… we just got a grant from the state for an accessible trail there and we’ll be trying to connect the neighborhoods to the north with the village center to the southeast over at Pomeroy Lane.”

Once installed, the rest of the project is to bring the community recreational use and walking trails. Including bringing conversation efforts to nearly an 18-acre woodland habitat and water quality that surrounds the Fort River.

When construction occurs some parts of the site are expected to be limited. Public access will still be available for walking, wildlife viewing, and connecting neighborhoods that may have gotten disconnected by the golf course. Amherst has received over half a million dollars in local and state funds for a trail system. Newly developed trails, the existing cart paths, and the access road with Amp to access the solar array are to be used in the trail system.

The solar site is located at 191 West Pomeroy Lane, Amherst, MA 01002. When a mobilization date is finalized information regarding what to expect and safety notices will be provided from the town.

The project is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.