DGR Meeting 12-7-20
December 7, 2020
Chairman Bartley calling the meeting to order at 6:31pm.
Other members present: Councilors Greaney, Sullivan, and Tallman.
Other councilors present: Councilors Murphy, Vacon, and McGiverin.
Councilor Tallman: motion to take item 2 off the table. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: Read 2: BARTLEY 8/4/20 – Ordered, that the Honorable City Council accept the amendments to the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s Urban Renewal Plan, entitled “Connect. Construct. Plan.: A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke” as presented. The City Council also authorizes the HRA to approve minor, non-substantial language changes to the urban renewal plan amendments, if such changes are recommended by the Department of Housing and Community Development, such as clarification of actions mentioned throughout the plan, defining of terms, and amending grammar.
Chairman Bartley: stated that item has been taken up several times before.
Councilor Greaney: noted that video of meeting wasn’t available on Channel 15.
Admin: stated that Holyoke Media is working on it.
Chairman Bartley: briefly looked to assure that a member of the Planning Department was in attendance. Stated that item 2 is being taken up, stated that plan is to take up a vote on the Urban Renewal Plan.
Marrero – from Planning Department: stated they have been trying to address concerns. Stated that it is vacant property at this point. Stated that property owners had been notified that they were removed.
Chairman Bartley: observed that State Rep Aaron Vega joined the meeting, as well as several other department heads. Asked Marrero to briefly describe the Urban Renewal Plan and why it is being amended.
Marrero: described plan as a document showing a plan of action and authority to Holyoke Redevelopment Authority. It describes a series of real estate projects to be completed over time to improve local economic conditions, reduce blight. Aspirational goals within community. He observed that the first plan was completed in 2012, approved by council and mayor, went to the state department of Housing and Urban Development in January of 2013. HRA has since carried put multiple projects. The need to amend is to include additional properties in Holyoke. Also stated that the original proposal had some properties to be removed.
Councilor Vacon arrived at 6:37.
Chairman Bartley: asked for any other committee members to weigh in.
Sullivan: made motion to approve as amended, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: stated that the recommendation will go to the full city council, asked Marrero to watch meeting and stay on for additional items.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take item 3 off of table, and to open public hearing, seconded by Councilor Greaney. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: read 3: 11/17/20 — PUBLIC HEARING Special Permit Application of Eric Taub for construction of a new duplex at 102 Beech St. Holyoke MA (Map 062 Block 02 Parcel 015).
Chairman Bartley: stated it is a special permit application of Eric Taub at 102 Beech. Observed that it is being taken up again due to noticing issues with previous appearance.
Eric Taub: observed that since item was last taken up, a minor edit of 3 feet separation for both lot lines, 4 parking spots.
Chairman Bartley: noted that the building commissioner is attendance, Damian Cote. Stated there is a letter dated November 3oth, requiring relief of minimum setbacks. Asked for status of any questions from office.
Cote: stated he has no questions, here to answer questions. Letter pointed to relief that needs to be granted. First council meeting only provided minimal relief, observed that more relief needs to be granted, according to the letter.
Chairman Bartley: described items in letter that required relief, asked Cote to confirm.
Diane Manzi: asked for opportunity to speak.
Chairman Bartley: stated that there would be an opportunity to speak when public is acknowledged.
Taub: stated that he believed he is in compliance with density recommendations from Building Commission.
Chairman Bartley: asked for summarization of what was sent to Building Commission.
Taub: stated he counted units and divided by number of acres, reached average of all five.
Councilor Bartley: stated he observed that Taub had made attempts to address recommendation. Asked for questions from other councilors.
Councilor Tallman: to Damian – referring to letter about sides, asked for clarification that it is 3 feet on sides and 35 feet in front. Is it to be addressed, or does it have to be waived?
Cote: stated that it is relief council can provide, and that the house is closer than the average.
Councilor Tallman: asked if the density is proper.
Cote: stated that no relief is needed on that item, but if proposal was more dense than average of neighborhood, relief would be needed.
Taub: clarified that relief requested is for lot area, frontage, and setback.
Chairman Bartley: stated that public hearing is open, and described rules for being acknowledged.
Diane Manzie: stated that when property went up for auction the first time, she wanted to buy it, but was told by Building Commission that she could not build on it, that at least 50 feet was needed, not 37. Observed that the space is going to be tight and too close to her property. Questioned availability of special permits when she expressed interest.
Chairman Bartley: observed that what is before us now is a quirk of municipal law. Clarified that a special permit process is a designed to address items that don’t necessarily fit into existing plans. Petitioner is asking for municipal relief for what is usually not allowed. Lawmakers came up with special permit process. Process is to allow a property owner to address concerns and ask for relief. Asked Manzie to clarify who said she could not build on it.
Manzie: stated that a lady at Building Department said it could not be built on, and that she was not advised of special permit process. She also said that the last owner was told that they could not build a parking lot on it.
Chairman Bartley: asked Taub when property was purchased at auction.
Taub: stated he purchased it 5-6 years ago for $500 at a city auction.
Cote: looking at numbers, stated belief that Taub’s numbers are accurate, and described relief needed.
Chairman Bartley: asked for Cote to put in writing to clarify numbers.
Taub: asked for clarification on if he needed relief from density, and if that can be done now.
Chairman Bartley: stated that it would be idea. Asked if either Taub or Cote needed to say anything more.
Greaney: stated that he didn’t believe Manzie’s concern had been addressed.
Chairman Bartley: clarified that public hearing hadn’t been closed and that the committee would take up the item in a few minutes. We’ll put this to committee. Asked other members for ideas on how to address the concerns.
Councilor Tallman: expressed concern that she was notified that she could not build. Asked for any thoughts from Cote?
Chairman Bartley: asked Cote for any way to understand what happened.
Cote: stated that it is not typical for clerical staff to answer questions unless they are straight forward. Department would not tell people that lot is buildable or not buildable. Also stated that a shed could ont be built without a shed.
Manzie: stated that they knew there would be primary because it would add to her property. She stated that when she was told they couldn’t build, she chose not to attend auction. She also stated there would be issues with paying the extra taxes.
Chairman Bartley: clarified that auction as it took place was under a pretense that it wasn’t explained properly. Stated that he wasn’t sure there is any relief of a process from five years ago. To Taub: asked if property is under his own name or an LLC.
Taub: stated it is in his name.
Chairman Bartley: observed that according to conditions of auction, Taub won the bid and has a deed in his name. Also stated he doesn’t believe the process can be amended at this point, and that the committee doesn’t have jurisdiction.
Manzie: clarified that she is asking for no duplex because of closeness to her own property.
Chairman Bartley: asked Cote how close new property would be to Manzie’s property line.
Cote: stated it would be three feet on either side.
Chairman Bartley: asked what her structure is.
Manzie: clarified it is a duplex.
Chairman Bartley: to Taub, asked what can be done to soften issue.
Taub: state that in looking at the five existing abutting properties, some having zero setback, to neighboring lot lines. Didn’t believe there is an issue. Compared setback to other properties and averages, stating he didn’t believe he will be too close to her property.
Chairman Bartley: to Cote, asked if the distance is safe according to codes. Could there be additional conditions?
Cote: stated that building code covers fire separation distances, adding that it was shared with Taub. Clarified that there are minimums to prevent the spreading of fire.
Manzie: recalled that there was a fire in lot next to where they want to build. She stated that the fire department stated that if there was a house on the lot, her house would have caught it too.
Chairman Bartley: to Taub, asked what Cote said about fire suppression.
Taub: stated that if a sprinkler system was put in, he could reach property lines, but three feet was decided upon anyway.
Chairman Bartley: to Manzie, asked for any other suggestions.
Manzie: stated her belief that property will be too tight and expressed concerns about her privacy. Also stated that she was told by the fire department that eight inches over her fence is her property.
Taub: reiterated that he is leaving 36 inches.
Chairman Bartley: to Taub, asked for clarification of off street parking amendment.
Taub: stated that to be in compliance with Holyoke ordinances, property will have four off street spaces.
Chairman Bartley: asked for additional questions from councilors.
Councilor Sullivan: made motion to close public hearing, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: clarified the special conditions of the permit – 1. That the permit only applies to the current owner; 2. That the project must be commenced within two years of the permit being issued; 3. That there be four off-street parking spaces. Asked if anyone wants to add anything.
Chairman Bartley: made motion to amend with the conditions, seconded by Councilor Sullivan. All vote in favor.
Councilor Sullivan: made motion to approve the special permit, as amended with conditions, seconded by Councilor Tallman.
Chairman Bartley: made motion to add a fourth condition, that the terms of the Building Commissioner’s letter, dated November 30th, 2020, are fully implemented, seconded by Councilor Tallman.
Councilor McGiverin: expressed concern about their being enough room for parking.
Chairman Bartley: confirmed there is room for parking.
Councilor McGiverin: wanted to make sure petitioner can do the conditions.
Chairman Bartley: reiterated the four special conditions. All vote in favor.
All vote in favor, with special conditions.
Chairman Bartley: stated item was granted, informed Taub that item will be taken up by full council on the 15th.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take item 4 off the table and open public hearing, seconded by Councilor Sullivan. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: read 4: 10/6/20 — PUBLIC HEARING Special Permit Application of Jahjan LLC for Motor Vehicle Service Station Rebuild (Add 3rd pump) at 679-689 Main St. and 0 Beaulieu St. (Map 55 Block 0 Parcels 9, 9.1, and 9.2).
Chairman Bartley: stated this is a special permit of Jahjan LLC for motor vehicle service station rebuild and add a third pump, joined by Abe Younes.
Younes: plan is to add a third pump to station.
Chairman Bartley: asked for clarification on type of gasoline.
Chairman Bartley: just expanding business?
Chairman Bartley: asked if any department heads or councilors want to address the applicant.
Councilor Murphy: spoke in favor of this. Observed that he has been a good for jobs and economic activity.
Chairman Bartley: stated that he has represented Younes on other matters in the past, but not in this area.
Councilor Greaney: asked about information at the bottom of the application in regard to marijuana business.
Luke DiStefano from Bohler Engineering: stated he can address issues as the representative for owner. With project being proposed, there are more elements beyond adding the third pump. He stated that the reason for this hearing is for the third pump but that there are additional plans for the facility that will require future hearings. Plans include marijuana use and additional site plan reviews, requiring multiple applications.
Chairman Bartley: asked about plans to relocate convenience store.
DiStefano: stated that convenience store currently sits at southeast corner of property. Stated that plan is to remove building and construct a new property, housing convenience store as well as marijuana growing and dispensary use.
Chairman Bartley: asked if Councilor Greaney had additional questions.
Councilor Greaney: stated he didn’t have follow up but hadn’t known the project would have additional steps.
Councilor Tallman: asked to clarify that tonight’s hearing is only about the third pump.
DiStefano: reiterated that there will be multiple levels of permits but that this hearing was only about the gas pump.
Councilor Tallman: asked if the two current pumps are being moved.
DiStefano: stated that when existing building is relocated, that will allow for addition of third gas pump.
Councilor Murphy: stated that he believed the piece by piece approach to the larger project is the right way to approach it.
Chairman Bartley: stated that public hearing is open and asked for any public members to speak. Followed up with questions from other councilors.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to close public hearing, seconded by Councilor Sullivan.
Councilor McGiverin: asked that before closing, wanted to assure there is a site plan made available to committee.
DiStefano: yes. Stated that final submission would likely be in the next few weeks.
McGiverin: asked to clarity that if next phases don’t go through, would parking remain the same.
DiStefano: clarified that if entire project is not approved, he expected existing operation would remain as is, and that the current convenience store would remain where it is.
Councilor McGiverin: stated concern about flow of parking with third pump is not as good without the rest of the project.
DiStefano: observed that current operation works well but agreed that parking isn’t as efficient as it would be if project goes forward.
Chairman Bartley: asked for additional questions. Observed that if a special condition is added making the special permit for a third pump contingent upon the whole project going forward, it would require another special permit and public hearing if Younes wanted to add a third pump without the project in the future.
Councilor Murphy: agreed with that observation, suggested adding a condition that would require a third pump be to the north of the two current pumps.
Chairman Bartley: to DiStefano, would that condition be problematic?
DiStefano: stated that only way to add a third pump would be for the whole project to go forward.
Chairman Bartley: stated that motion has been made to close public hearing. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: motion made to add a condition that if there is a third pump, it is mandated to be to the north of the current pumps. Councilor Tallman seconded. All vote in favor.
Councilor Sullivan: made motion to approve, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: to Younes and to DiStefano, body will take it up on 15th.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take 5 off the table, seconded by Councilor Sullivan. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: read 5: SULLIVAN, MCGEE 12/1/20 — That the honorable Holyoke City Council approve a grant in the amount of $175,000 to Kestral Land Trust. Said grant is for Open Space and will be used to fund the acquisition of ~14 acres of land abutting Scott Tower. This will be a key component in leveraging a $435,400 Phase 1 project.
Councilor Sullivan: stated it is great project. Observed that CPA held a public roundtable and that Scott Tower came out at every table as primary target from public. Great use of leverage in funds. Observed several people in attendance to speak on item.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to suspend the rules and allow members of public to speak, seconded by Councilor Sullivan. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: laid out rules for the public to speak on item, 2-3 minutes, addressing the chair. Stated that Councilor Sullivan is the CPA liaison.
Yoni Glogower – Director of Conservation and Sustainability: stated they had been working on project with Kestral for a few months. Background: developer bought with expectation of doing zone change, 200 condo units, and now wants to sell parcels. Plan is to use city funds to leverage other funds, get grants and gain property. Stated it will provide new access off of Old Jarvis where currently the only access if through Community Field. Also stated it will benefit the public, protects land immediately around tower, and add parcels to overall park.
Terry Shepard – Director of Holyoke Parks and Rec: attending to voice support of project.
Chairman Bartley: asked who will take care of the project.
Shepard: stated the hope is for it to be a collaboration.
Chairman Bartley: asked about details on what was discussed at the meeting in regard to maintenance of property.
Shepard: stated that nothing concrete was discussed yet because there isn’t a solid plan of action as to what will become of the parcel. Likely turned over to Park property.
Glogower: Stated it is seen as a two phase project. For acquisition, plan is to have 50% of funds coming from CPA, and 50% coming from Land and Water Conservation fund or park grants. Phase two plan is to get public engagement and department heads coming together to figure out future of park. Stayed that they are starting here because sale is time sensitive.
Councilor Sullivan: stated that one major discussion point was long term maintenance and how we afford it. Most attractive was one of the first time Kestral has had long term plan that includes long term commitment to get grants for continued maintenance and programming activities at the site.
Councilor Greaney: suggested this is the type of project that can bring whole community together. Stated he has heard Kestral is reputable and that he is completely in support of project.
Chairman Bartley: asked about the access point off of Jarvis.
Glogower: presented screen to show location of property and access points.
Councilor McGiverin: agreed with concept, liked the idea of gaining parkland, wanted to assure that is the plan. Expressed concern
Shepard: stated that she believes that is intention in the end. Clarified that this means when something is developed and the city isn’t just holding more property. Stated that if it doesn’t turn into parkland, either Parks or the Conservation Department would take it.
Councilor McGiverin: observed that the state pays a lot of money for conservation restricted land, and questioned why CPA money would be tied up if we don’t get anything out of it.
Shepard: stated that after a plan is in place, it would turned over or donated as parkland.
Councilor McGiverin: asked Councilor Sullivan what the total sale price of the land is.
Sullivan: Stated that it is $350K.
Councilor McGiverin: asked where the rest of the money is coming from.
Councilor Sullivan: stated his belief that it is coming from Kestral, then suggested that Mark Wamsley would be better enabled to address questions.
Chairman Bartley: suggested that Wamsley could address in a few minutes, but asked Councilor McGiverin to continue.
Councilor McGiverin: stated he understands the leverage is for another project in the city. Asked if that is a committed leverage or a proposal.
Shepard: stated that Yoni Glogower is more appropriate person to answer.
Glogower: stated that Kestral had already closed deal on property, with a total sale price of $300K, at a bargain of appraised value of $336K. Confirmed that it would go to the park and become parkland. He stated that could draft conservation restriction that it would be CPA funds for open space. They would include provisions to selectively clear some trees and add structures. Also stated that the matching land and water conservation fund grant is due in February. Would provide additional $150K for the purchase of the property.
Councilor McGiverin: stated his concern is pending grant applications, asked what happens if grants don’t come through for the full project. It still becomes city land.
Glogower: Kestral would consider a bargain sale to the city. Stated worst case scenario would be selling the land to a developer and the appropriated fund would go back to CPA. He stated that he believed they have an excellent chance of getting grants. They have already been in touch with the state, who are excited with project. He also stated that they have been in touch with many other organizations for funds and assured that there are many options to pursue before the city would be on the hook.
Councilor McGiverin: observed that we’re taking land that can be developed and put on tax rolls, and turning it into parkland. Asked for clarification on the leveraging for the another project, using this money.
Glogower: stated his understanding that current property owner wants to sell off parcels, use funds from sale to develop shovel-ready project on Holy Families Road.
Councilor McGiverin: asked to assure precautions are in place, and that $175K is returned to CPA if project does not go through.
Chairman Bartley: asked for questions from other councilors. To Wamsley, asked for quick overview of Kestral Land Trust.
Wamsley: on Kestral: been around since 1970. Stated it serves 19 towns in Pioneer Valley. They focus on conservation of forest, farm, and parkland. Stated that many of their partnerships have been with municipalities, providing technical assistance, and other capabilities without professional staff. Approached by people in Holyoke who were worried about property being developed. Sold in 2 weeks last time it was up for sale. Land came back for second opportunity. With Kestral acquiring, allows for eligibility of state grants that city would not be able to get. Move ahead together with planning and design of par, private and public fundraising. Plenty of opportunity for public input. Stated that park would likely be opened in 2023, coinciding with 100th anniversary of park and 150th anniversary of the city of Holyoke.
Chairman Barley: asked for questions from councilors. To Wamsley, asked who current owner of the property is.
Wamsley: Anniversary Hill Development Corporation.
Chairman Bartley: asked for clarification that Kestral would pay current owner, he would work on Holy Families Road, and then Kestral would close on property unencumbered, meaning it wouldn’t be purchased as conversation land because that would limit potential funding sources.
Chairman Bartley: because of Land Trust, ability to get grants.
Wamsley: in this case, because Kestral is being up front about plans and would not be ultimate property holder, working with state to take off market to avoid it being developed. No conservation restriction as owner. Clarified that those restriction would come into play with CPA funds.
Chairman Bartley: asked what happens if grants don’t come in.
Wamsley: stated it is not totally clear. Observed that they are committed to not seeing project fail. They will access private fundraising, possible offer bargain sale to city. Confident private outside fundraising could be acquired. Stated that the worst-case scenario, they could sell to developer, but would work hard with city to make it work.
Chairman Bartley: with the $175K from CPA, asked where it is going?
Wamsley: $150K would stay with city, $25K is tied to a quirk in grant funding. Clarified that to apply for second round of grants, they must show significant community outreach work. Stated that they need seed money to get the application going and to begin community outreach.
Chairman Bartley: asked for questions from other councilors.
Councilor Sullivan: made motion to approve $175K of CPA funds for acquisition, second by Councilor Greaney. All vote in favor.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take 6 off the table, seconded by Councilor Greaney. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: read 6: SULLIVAN, MCGEE 12/1/20 — That the honorable Holyoke City Council approve a grant in the amount of $250,000 to Wayfinders. Said grant is for Housing and will be matched by CDBG in order to access a $16.4 million dollar state grant.
Councilor Sullivan: observed that this project has had significant progress. Stated that the biggest discussion in CPA was around time limit of tying up this amount of money. Stated that in contract, there are some items to be met on a timeline that would need more clarification.
Chairman Bartley: asked where the project is. How is it matched by CBDG?
Chairman Bartley: asked for clarification on how CDBG matches funds.
Councilor Sullivan: stated they have been informed on that, but that they have no control of CDBG funds.
Chairman Bartley: stated he would like to hear from Mayor’s office. Suggested tabling and invite the mayor and Chief of Staff Bloomberg to get input on the item, and people form Wayfinders.
Councilor Greaney: made motion to table, seconded by Tallman Councilor. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: stated that 7 is related to 6 and would be tabled.
Councilor McGiverin: asked to clarify if it was a late file.
Chairman Bartley: confirmed that it was, and then asked Admin Anderson-Burgos to assure everyone receives it.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take 8 off the table, seconded by Councilor Greaney. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley: read 8: BARTLEY 10/21/20 — Ordered, that the Honorable Holyoke City Council, in accordance with M.G.L. c 30B and the Holyoke Procurement Ordinance, vote to accept the offer from the Baystate Health / Kindred Healthcare partnership purchase the land and building located at 45 Lower Westfield Road for $250,000.00. The property is identified by Holyoke Assessors as Map 117, Block 00, Parcel 018 and is zoned Multifamily residence and professional office (RO).
OPED Director Marrero: presented PowerPoint of site. Observed that the site was split a couple years ago, with different uses. Mentioned a previous plan for use was withdrawn because of cost for demolition. Stated the proposal is for one hospital, with some parts still pending. Project would be up to $34 million in investment. Kindred would be physical developer while Baystate would maintain clinical aspects. Proposal is for 120 beds, with potential of 150. Hiring preference for Holyoke workers. 1 year from approval to construction. 2 years from approval to first patient. Precondition of RFP, regardless of any potential future ownership, property would have to pay taxes. No 10 years restriction of paying taxes. Best estimate of low end of taxes would be $205k annually, with potential for it to be higher if building turns out to be larger.
Chairman Bartley: asked for questions from committee members.
Councilor Sullivan: to Marrero, asked where tax figure came from?
Marrero: stated he did estimation based on existing assessment of similar sized properties in the area. Dated about a year ago. Stated that assessor doesn’t vale at investment, but of market value. $3 million for demolition wouldn’t be part of assessment.
Councilor Sullivan: asked for the final assessed valuation.
Marrero: not sure of formula. Stated that estimation was off 75,000 sq. ft building, and clarified that current proposal has a range of 70,000 to 125,000.
Councilor Sullivan: asked for clarification that building would be worth $5.125 million.
Marrero: stated it is approximate in that area. Tried to look at assessments for other medical type buildings. Stated it could be more because it is a new building.
Chairman Bartley: asked for other questions?
Councilor Murphy: asked for a clarification that on the taxes, it would be perpetual rather than for 10 years as a previous proposal was.
Marrero: clarified that with this proposal, they attempted to address concerns from last time, if it was sold to non-taxpaying entity. In a restriction of this proposal, applicant had to acknowledge it would be taxpaying forever.
Councilor Murphy: confirmed that this agreement would prevent whoever own to sell it to someone who would become non taxpaying entity.
Marrero: stated that whoever buys it would have to pay taxes.
Councilor Murphy: in many cases, we are taking away community health services. Expressed concerns that all psychiatric units in western mass will be in Holyoke, and that families of patients would have farther distance to visit. Concerns that current nursing staff involved in other facilities only given serious consideration about being hired. Wondered that if they are unionized in other facilities, that this is an attempt to not have them unionized. Stated concerns about number of patients per room, asked why they are not all private rooms given current situation. Glad to see commitment with paying taxes but thought that expected tax would be higher. Encouraged commitment to hire current Baystate staff.
Councilor Tallman: stated he was glad to hear about tax payment going from 10 year to perpetual. Leave this to healthcare professional to determine what kind of workers they have. Stated an interest in hiring local people.
Councilor Vacon: stated she was pleased to see development of property. Questions: interested in how the hospital will relate to surrounding neighborhood. Security. Wanted to understand that quality of issues in earlier deal have been addressed in this new partnership. Heard and appreciated concerns about people traveling from their immediate community. Having more beds in western part of state is a positive for area. Great that all current employees will be given consideration.
Chairman Bartley: welcomed Mike Knapik to the conversation, former state senator and VP of Government and Community Relations for Baystate, to introduce members of the team that are in attendance.
Knapik: stated that proposal is similar to one form a year ago. Introduced Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of psychiatry for Baystate, as well as Jeff Kaufman, VP for Business Development at Baystate, and Rob Marsh, senior VP and COO for Kindred Health. Stated pride in relationship with Holyoke. Currently have 700 employees who work in Holyoke, and 300 employees who live in Holyoke.
Sarvet: Observed they parted with a previous partner. Needs for the facility are great given increased stress for behavioral health services due to pandemic. Stated plan is for expanding capacity. Observed they are closing units and consolidating services, will develop more modern facility. Observed that patients in psychiatric care benefit from shared rooms. Stated that they have heard from the community about safety of residents in surrounding neighborhood. Hospital is self-contained, with specialized environment of care. Discharged residents will develop a plan for where they go or return to. Emphasized that hospital will be a teaching hospital – site for activities of psychiatric residents and 4 child psychiatry fellows.
Rob Marsh: stated their dedication to project and to behavioral health. Vision and values align with Baystate. Observed that closing of regional hospitals will impact access but mentioned there is greater damage is out migration of patients needing services. Believes this will make services available closer to home. Planning transportation service. Stated that behavioral health care is communal. On union concern, Kindred is neutral. Focus is on care. If there is interest in union, they wouldn’t oppose that. They would also stress to hire local first. On the concern with the safety of local residents and neighborhood, clarified that the facility is self-sustained, with no entrances or exists available to patients. Safety feature will include camera systems, biometric entrance and exits, and well trained staff. They are focused on quality and will continue to look for areas for improvement. Goal is to make the patients better and the community better.
Sarvet: stated that in the choice to partner with Kindred, they did RFP process, saw proposals from 9 companies. Kindred stood out on basis of quality, infrastructure, aligned well history of how they collaborate with organizations and surrounding communities.
Councilor Greaney: question to Sarvet – asked for clarification on if the facility would take people from outside of area. If there are patients that come long distance from NY, etc. will they be denied admittance?
Sarvet: stated that facility would be part of a network of available beds in Massachusetts. Observed there is a statewide shortage of psychiatric resources. Legislation focused on providing long term care for regional patients doesn’t mean hospital is prohibited from taking patients outside of area. State has committed to provide patients from Western Mass with local care. Stated they have been sending patients because of shortage to facilities a couple hours away. Vast majority will be from Western Mass and surrounding communities.
Councilor Greaney: asked for clarification on our of state patients.
Sarvet: stated they could be referred, but that he didn’t anticipate they would be over bedded. They would like only see patients from out of area if they have excess capacity.
Councilor Murphy: asked if there is a chance for additional capacity in Greenfield or Palmer, etc.
Sarvet: stated it is unlikely because of projected need. Hard to answer precisely. Committed to address access to care issues, and that nothing is off the table.
Councilor Murphy: transportation plan – if someone in Northfield needs to have relations committed, what is the plan? What about their families?
Marsh: in terms of transporting patients, if they are voluntary, they would want to pick them up. If there is emergent situation, involuntary submission, they look to law enforcement or a secured ambulance. They may have 3-5 secured vans, recognizing it may not cover the needs of everyone.
Knapik: as this effort was renewed, they began to have robust conversations in region around transportation, recognized that this is connected broader concerns about transportation in the region.
Sarvet: Stated he understands the concern, and his belief that involvement of family members is critical. Observed they have a plan to assure family members are involved, including electronic communication tools. Recognized the appeal of community psychiatric facilities but stated that care has become more sophisticated with changes in regulatory requirements, with a transition toward regionalization in the field. Stated a need for inpatient care to be centralized.
Councilor Murphy: stated concern about employees at facilities in other communities that would close being given favor in hiring process of new facility in Holyoke.
Councilor McGiverin: observed it has been a good dialogue about use of this property. Stated he is focused of sale of property. Brought up additional healthcare facilities in Holyoke. Stated that the main point is that we need jobs and investment, but also recognized that property the tax being promised is a major interest. Questioned it the real assessment will be on new construction.
Marrero: stated that his formula for offering assessment is the minimum but that it could be higher. Clarified that the buildings he had to compare to are much older buildings.
Councilor McGiverin: asked if the sale with the deed restriction has been approved by the law department.
Marrero: clarified that it had been and that the property would be 100% taxable going forward even if a non-profit purchased in the future.
Councilor McGiverin: asked to clarify that law department says restriction is acceptable.
Marrero: stated that acting solicitor, Crystal Barnes signed off on it.
Councilor McGiverin: appreciate clear answers that sated his belief that this is a good project as long as conditions are set.
Councilor Greaney: asked if there will be an outpatient clinic.
Marsh: stated there would be not be traditional clinical outpatient services, but with partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient care.
Councilor Greaney: stated a concern about the facility being safe for the local residential community.
Marsh: traffic implications of limited outpatient programs would be minimal to community.
Councilor Tallman: clarified that the order is just about approving the sale of the property.
Chairman Bartley: confirmed.
Councilor Tallman: stated agreement with Councilor McGiverin. Supports taking the current building down and putting up a state of the at facility. Good for tax dollars and jobs.
Chairman Bartley: expressed appreciation to OPED for work put in. Asked if there would be a site plan review.
Marrero: stated it would qualify as it is new construction over 5,000 sq. ft.
Chairman Bartley: Asked how many parking spaces there would be.
Marsh: stated it would meet minimum requirements but didn’t have exact number. Clarified it would support 200-250 employees. Stated they could work on aesthetics, greenery, etc.
Chairman Bartley: stated interest in aesthetics being considered with deference to look of area. Asked about height of building and if it would need a variance.
Marsh: didn’t have that specific information.
Coffman: not sure if it would require that.
Marrero: Stated that Jeff Burkott would know. On the concern, there is a special permit for parking reduction, because of nature of facility, it could be reduced as this kind of facility would not require the same level traffic as other facilities of a similar size.
Councilor Bartley: observed the potential for concern from the neighborhood residents. Asked about recreational resources at the facility for the community.
Sarvet: may be appropriate for hospitals like this to offer meeting space for community organizations, in limited ways, as a resource for community.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to accept the offer, seconded by Councilor Greaney.
Councilor Vacon: spoke in favor of project. Appreciative of Baystate and Kindred for addressing neighborhood issues.
All vote in favor. 4-0
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take up 9 and 10 as ap package, seconded by Councilor Greaney. All vote in favor.
Chairman Bartley read 9 and 10.
9: BARTLEY 9/15/20 – Ordered, that the City Council approve the Resolution for the Certified Housing Development Incentive Program Project and local Tax Increment Exemption (TIE) Agreement with Hotel Jess, LLC for the redevelopment of 319-335 Main Street, Board of Assessors Map 033, Block 04, Parcels 002, 003, and 004 (known as “Hotel Jess”)
10: BARTLEY 9/15/20 – Ordered, that the City Council approve the Resolution for the Certified Project and the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Agreement with Hotel Jess, LLC for the redevelopment at 319-335 Main Street, Board of Assessors Map 033, Block 04, Parcels 002, 003, and 004.
Marrero: projected a shared presentation. Stated the building had been vacant for many years. Mass Development acquired from prior owner. City through OPED staff, participating in selection process for purchasers. Stated it was bought for $150K. Witman Properties acquired it. Presented additional projects that Witman Properties has been involved in, 35 major rehabs in Western Mass, 11 in Holyoke. Described minor work that has been done on property. Stated proposal for commercial space/restaurant on bottom floor, with apartments on second and third floor. Described commercial area of property, housing area of property, distinction between incentive programs – TIW vs TIF. Without tax incentives, project is unaffordable. Discussed gradual increase in taxes for the city over five years until investment ends.
Witman: described upfront investment, worth of value in the project with great benefits to the surrounding neighborhood. Mentioned the visibility of location.
Chairman Bartley: asked about the vision for the restaurant space.
Witman: stated there has been interest from a few parties.
Chairman Bartley: asked about the building’s construction.
Witman: believed it to be around 1880.
Chairman Bartley: described appreciation for Witman’s previous investment in buildings in the community.
Councilor Greaney: offered memories of Hotel Jess. Asked about handicap accessibility.
Witman: stated that the first floor would be, and that the upstairs would not require it because it is under a certain number of units.
Councilor Tallman: stated support for the project, work and investment Witman has done in other projects throughout city. Expressed creating momentum to spur more investment in the area.
Councilor Sullivan: observed it to be a deserving project, recognized difficulties with buildings that are older.
Councilor McGiverin: stated it to be a good project from multiple angles. Observed that it would save and also preserve a historic building. Shared a personal history with Hotel Jess.
Chairman Bartley: observed it to be a good project for the city. Contrasted with proposed projects that may not have been as beneficial to city.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to approve both items, seconded by Councilor Greaney, All vote in favor. 4-0
Chairman Bartley: stated that next meeting would be the next week, December 14th.
Greaney: asked for consideration of thoughts for victims of Pearl Harbor, as meeting took place on anniversary. A 15 second moment of silence was observed.
Councilor Tallman: motion to adjourn, seconded by Councilor Murphy. All in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 10:10pm.