Alex Morse was born and raised in Holyoke and is a proud product of the city's public schools. He is an alumnus of Brown University with a degree in urban studies, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. On January 3, 2012, Alex B. Morse was sworn in as the youngest Mayor in the history of the city of Holyoke at the age 22.
Since taking office, economic development has been his number one priority. In his first year in office, Mayor Morse launched a new tax incentive program that has already catalyzed new growth – helping both retain existing businesses and attract new development. He introduced a long-awaited Urban Renewal Plan, a sweeping proposal to revitalize Holyoke’s downtown through the reincarnation of the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority. Mayor Morse recently cut the ribbon on the $168 million Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, helped complete the city’s new Senior Center, and has introduced new tax incentives for developers to build market rate housing in the downtown. This year, the Mayor looks forward to beginning construction on a $2 million platform for the restoration of passenger rail service through the city, kicking off Phase 2 of the CanalWalk, and completing the expansion and renovation of the Holyoke Public Library.
In education, the Mayor has made early literacy a major priority. With help from the United Way, he created a Community Literacy office in City Hall and launched a campaign to increase 3rd grade reading scores. The Mayor also chairs the Dean Tech Futures Committee, where he has had the opportunity to engage the business community, secure over $6 million to build new science laboratories at Dean, and implement new reforms to make sure Holyoke is home to quality vocational high school.
Mayor Morse has also made public safety a top priority. He has been a proponent of community policing strategies that have decreased crime statistics to a record low. By putting officers back on foot and bike patrol, launching a mobile community policing unit and new K-9 unit, 2012 was the first year in over 25 years that Holyoke was without a recorded homicide.
Mayor Morse’s guiding light has been to instill civic pride in all the residents of Holyoke. Be it the launching of Buy Holyoke Now, a new initiative to increase homeownership, or his focus on the creative economy, he’s set out to market Holyoke as a great place to live, work, and have fun. Mayor Morse’s success has provided national attention to our city, helping to attract innovative minds that want to be a part of what’s happening in Holyoke.
The Holyoke Local Cultural Council (HLCC) is seeking funding proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science programs – and has set a postmark deadline of October 15th, 2013 for organizations, schools and...
Mayor Alex B. Morse is proud of the initiatives he has launched and sponsored during his first term as mayor. From the skateboard park to the Buy Holyoke Now program, these initiatives focus on making the city a better place to work, live and participate in the community. By forming strategic partnerships, issuing proclamations and directing policy, the mayor hopes to build off the successes of previous mayors and to help improve the city for all of its residents.
The initiatives listed here provide a snapshot into the everyday efforts of Holyoke City Hall. Some were launched by Mayor Morse, while others were started by Mayor Pluta and Mayor Sullivan. Leading the city is a cooperative effort, and Mayor Morse is proud to continue the efforts of his predecessors.
|Buy Holyoke Now||Civic Pride|
|Holyoke at Work||Pride Events/Month|
|Senior Visits||Skateboard Park|
Mayor Alex B. Morse is proud of the Buy Holyoke Now initiative, a coalition of realtors, attorneys, lenders and other housing professionals along with local nonprofits focused on the promotion of Holyoke as a place to live and work. With municipal support, the group offers incentives to prospective buyers and coordinates advertising campaigns for city properties.
“The goal of Buy Holyoke Now is to not only encourage home ownership in the city of Holyoke, but also to help stimulate local business in the process,” said Mayor Morse. New homeowners receive special deals and coupons at over forty local business, restaurants and museums as well as improved rates at local lending and banking institutions.
The program began over a year ago on June 7th after a kickoff event at the Heritage State Park. It is chaired by Erin Brunelle, a local realtor, and Mayor Morse. Through the program, many new Holyoke residents have found homes with more affordable financing plans, more enticing deals, and more support from community organizations, making Holyoke a more welcoming place to live, work and raise a family.
To find out more about the program, visit buyholyokenow.com or like them on Facebook!
Mayor Alex B. Morse restarted the monthly Civic Pride Award this August, recognizing those who have made unique and remarkable contributions to the Holyoke community. Award-winners must have meaningfully impacted Holyoke, improving the lives of residents, raising the public image of the city or showing extraordinary commitment to the community and the environment.
The Mayor selects a winner at the end of every month and presents the award in the first week of the next month. He recommends that people take an active role in nominating and advocating for winners, as he will take the hopes of his constituents seriously.
The Civic Pride Award began in Mayor Sullivan’s administration, and Mayor Morse is proud to continue the tradition. The winner will be announced on Facebook and Holyoke.org. He or she will receive a letter of commendation from the Mayor and an engraved plaque. Winners do not need to live in Holyoke, only to change the city for the better in some clear and exceptional way.
Once every 10 years, The City of Holyoke has the opportunity to examine past services provided by Comcast and renegotiate franchise agreements. The process of granting a new franchise to Comcast deserves serious consideration and public input.
The cable franchise renewal process examines the past performance of Comcast – as well as future services that citizens, schools, community groups, businesses and local government would like to include in a new cable franchise agreement.
The current franchise agreement with Comcast is set to expire in October 27, 2013.
As a part of the renewal process, Mayor Alex Morse conducted two public hearings regarding the performance of Comcast and the possibility of creating a public access station for the community.
Currently, the city only receives 1.5 percent of the gross annual revenue from Comcast — it could earn as much as 5 percent — and it has no public access channel available to residents, among other things.
“Holyoke deserves everything that every other community received. In the past, we didn’t do all we could to negotiate the best contract,” Morse said.
“One of the biggest things I’m looking for in this process is a community station downtown that’s open to the public,” Morse said. “Right now we have a studio at the high school, but it’s not accessible after hours, so it’s not a true public access station. Currently, we’re not educating or involving our residents in the process, and that’s important to me.”
Morse’s initiative also plans to establish a board of directors over the next several months, establishing that 501(c)(3) and working to increase the percentage of gross annual revenues, and capital funds, so that the City will get money to build a quality community media program in Holyoke.
With the help of the Portland, Maine based Art at Work program, the City of Holyoke introduced an initiative focusing on fostering community engagement through the arts called “Holyoke at Work.”
Started in 2007 in Portland, Maine, Art At Work is a national initiative bringing the power of creative engagement to city governments and the communities they serve and demonstrating art as a powerful and cost-effective method of bringing about change.
This initiative was quickly adopted by the mayor as a part of his to improve communications among elected officials, city employees and others in the community by means of direct engagement.
Holyoke citizens and leaders meet in workshops to create art and and to have discussions on important topics facing Holyoke. This process is shown to dramatically increase participants’ ability to actively engage, function as a team, envision a positive outcome, remember connections and take inspired risks that lead to innovative solutions.
“Holyoke at Work is a great collaboration between city officials, residents and community activists,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse. “In these workshops, there are no titles, and we get beyond the typical barriers that too often divide us as people.”
Mayor Alex B. Morse issued a proclamation declaring June to be LGBT Pride Month in early June of 2012. The initiative was in support of President Barack Obama’s June 1st proclamation that supported creating a national Pride Month. As part of the celebration of LGBT culture and history, the city raised a rainbow flag outside of City Hall, a tradition that is now in its second year.
The Rainbow Flag Raising celebrates diversity, acceptance and inclusiveness in the City of Holyoke and takes place in mid-June. It occurred on June 18th the first year and June 11th the second year. The annual ceremony includes speeches from community leaders, music, poetry and prayer, as well as the raising of the rainbow flag.
The goal of the event was “to send a message to residents that people who live in their community are in safe places for all people, the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender communities,” said Mayor Morse. “No matter who you are, what you look like, the language you speak or the neighborhood you live in, that you feel respected and appreciated by your community.”
Mayor Alex Morse allocated $250,000 to the development of a skateboard facility in Pulaski Park in the Spring of 2012 to ensure that Holyoke youth had a dedicated place to safely ride their skateboards.
Funded with money from a Federal Community Development Block Grant (FCDBG), the park is being designed with input from skaters who hope for a place to practice “legally and not get arrested,” said the park architect. “It’s gonna be an open barrier, free, inclusive park, so it’s not really designated just skate board only.” At a January meeting, about forty skateboarders gave feedback on the design.
Without a skate park, says Mayor Morse, “Young people are forced to skateboard in public parking facilities and other locations that aren’t designed for skateboarders, which puts both the young people and the city at risk.”
This initiative is a part of Mayor Morse’s goal to provide Holyoke youth with options for legal recreation to lower crime rates and to empower teens in leadership roles. “It’s important to support our city’s young people,” says the Mayor. “This has been a project on the Youth Vision Map for over a decade.”
In this manner, the skateboard park would serve as a safe space for students to spend time together in a constructive environment. In addition to the quarter million dollars allocated to this project, the FCDBG funded $200,000 in sidewalk repairs, $213,000 for Office of Community Development salaries, $200,000 in housing repairs, and several smaller projects.
Mayor Alex Morse began the senior residence touring initiative to ensure that the voices of Holyoke seniors were clearly heard and taken into consideration. The Mayor, along with Police Chief Neiswanger, began these tours on April 20th, 2012 hoping to receive feedback from seniors who might not normally be able to drive to City Hall to voice their concerns.
“During my campaign for Mayor, many of the residents living in these facilities voiced their desire to remain connected to the Mayor’s Office and other important city officials,” said Mayor Morse. “Residents deserve to know about the various public safety efforts of the Holyoke Police Department and the progress that my administration has made throughout Holyoke thus far. This is a campaign promise that I intend to fulfill during my time in office, and I appreciate Chief Neiswanger making time in his busy schedule to accompany me on these visits.”
Major topics in the tour were public safety and crime prevention. Concerns from seniors allowed the Mayor and Chief Neiswanger to plan for a safer Holyoke based on the feedback given. “Coming out here is really part of community policing,” Neiswanger said. “Because the police department cannot solve everything, we need to work with the community and I need to hear what the community’s concerns are.”
The Mayor visited Prospect Heights first, along with Elmwood Towers, Pulaski Heights, Loomis House and Loomis Village, among other locations. The Mayor valued the input the senior citizens provided and looks forward to future meetings with them.
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Posted on November 29, 2012 by cityadmin