News

Mayor’s First 100 Days in Office Text Size

It’s hard to believe that 100 days have already passed since I was sworn in as Holyoke’s Mayor for a second time. I’m still extremely humbled to have received Holyoke’s support last November, and I’m proud of how much we’ve already accomplished since then. As the inaugural post for the Room One blog, I thought this would be an ideal time to review some of the key happenings in the early days of this term.

I hope you had a chance to watch or read my State of the City address that I gave earlier this month.  It’d been five years since a Holyoke Mayor delivered a State of the City address, and I was happy to reinstate this practice after being invited by the City Council to address them during their regular meeting.

Development is happening in all areas of our City’s downtown, and on January 30, the Holyoke Innovation District held its annual meeting at the MGHPCC to highlight these developments. We heard from entrepreneurs who have moved their businesses into our innovation district, like the group of makers known as the Brick Coworkshop that recently opened their business down at the Wauregan Building on Dwight St this year.   Brick describes itself as a “collaborative work environment, or coworkshop, consisting of small businesses or individuals working together to focus art, science, and engineering onto exhibition, entrepreneurship, outreach, and education.” If you haven’t seen the promotional Holyoke Innovation District video, make sure you check it out here.

As the Innovation District continues to expand, development efforts continue in Holyoke’s Center City. New state legislation, initiated by my office in partnership with State Rep. Aaron Vega and with the support of the City Council, will allow for thirteen new liquor licenses available for restaurants opened within our downtown. As a major component of the Urban Renewal Plan, the availability of these liquor licenses has already drawn interest from prospective restaurant owners that considered this the incentive they needed to begin their investments in downtown Holyoke.  Private interest continues to grow around available land owned by the City, and I have no doubt that these inquiries will grow into fruition as we continue to aggressively market these properties available for development, including the Armory and Lynch School.

As we entered the month of March and prepared for the High Holiday season of St. Patrick’s Day in Holyoke, I announced the renewal of the City’s ten year license with cable television provider Comcast. At the beginning of the negotiation process Holyokers were clear about wanting the same kinds of benefits that other communities have received, and this license will benefit Holyoke cable subscribers for years to come. In addition to senior discounts and an increase in the percentage of Gross Annual Revenue received, Holyoke will finally have a true PEG Access station that will allow residents to create their own shows and programming which will, in turn, increase civic engagement.

Meanwhile in March, news was traveling fast about the Mayors of Boston and NYC protesting their St. Patrick’s Day parades in light of the decision to prohibit gay organizations from marching. Fortunately, I was not a Mayor who had to make the same announcement.  The St. Patrick’s Parade Committee of Holyoke used this opportunity to shine, inviting Holyoke High’s Gay Straight Alliance to march as a sponsor in the parade.  This was a proud moment for me, both as a Mayor and a member of the LGBT community, and I commend the Parade Committee for allowing Holyoke to make history.  The parade was another great success, thanks to the volunteers and City officials who make it possible each and every year.

Spring season is also budget season here in City Hall, and as Mayor, it’s my responsibility to explore new sources of revenue while carefully monitoring how we spend our money. Many people are aware of the financial challenges that face our City, and it’s time to carefully examine both the internal and external factors that have played a role in our city’s financial turmoil.
  
In order to assist with this, the Holyoke Taxpayers Association and the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce assembled a group of financial professionals to objectively study our city’s budget and offer suggestions on best business practices and long term solutions. Just last week, this newly formed Finance Advisory Group released a statement addressed to my office and the members of the City Council that urged us to develop an annual operating budget that more accurately estimates revenues for upcoming years, and developing a capital planning process that allow our City to better utilize available resources.  I am appreciative of these volunteers for providing their knowledge and experience as a guiding light for crafting this year’s budget, and am confident that this year’s budget process will allow us to create a budget that will complement the policy changes and developing projects that are spurring investment and interest in our City. 

I hope you’ll join me at one of the two public hearings scheduled for next week to discuss the budget, because I’ve realized that it truly takes the collaboration of the whole community to present a budget that will reflect the needs of our City.

Great things have happened over the last 100 days, and I know there’s more to come. We’re constantly thinking of new ways to increase government transparency and communications from Room One so we can provide the public with information on issues that matter most. There are a lot of exciting projects and progress underway right now in Holyoke, and my hope is that this blog will be used as another way to keep you informed and updated on what’s happening in Holyoke.


Posted on April 15, 2014 by