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City Council Meeting: April 21, 2020

Apr 21 2020

7:00 pm City Hall Holyoke

536 Dwight St, Holyoke 01040
April-21-Agenda.docx
May 4, 2020
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REGULAR MEETING OF THE CITY COUNCIL
April 21,2020


The meeting was called to order by President McGee at 07:04 AM.

The Clerk called the roll. Absent members: 0 Present Members 13 (Anderson-Burgos, Bartley, Greaney, Hernandez, Leahy, Lebron-Martinez, Lisi, McGee, McGiverin, Murphy, Sullivan, Tallman, Vacon).

The name of Councilor Anderson-Burgos was drawn to head the roll call voting.

Councilor McGee stated that there are several guests participating in the zoom meeting including Mayor Morse, Mike Bloomberg, School Receiver Dr. Zrike, Whitney Anderson, School Board Chair Devin Sheehan, and Sgt. Hart.

PUBLIC COMMENT

COMMUNICATIONS


From City Clerk Brenna McGee and Administrative Assistant Ryan Allen, Minutes from the March 10, 2020 and April 7, 2020 City Council Meetings
--> Received and adopted.

From Tanya Wdowiak, City Auditor, monthly budget reports
---> Received and referred to the Finance Committee.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES


Motion was made and seconded to suspend the necessary rules and take late file A out of order:
GREANEY, JR. Ordered, that Ordered that the City Council establish a suitable location such as the Holyoke High School Gym or Dean Tech. Cafeteria where the Council can have public discussion on agenda Items like Items 24 and 25 and 4A, using the guidelines such as social distancing and face masks. These items should have public input prior to being sent to a committee and prior to being voted on by the Full City Council.
---> Received and referred to the Board of Health.

A motion was made and seconded to recess the full council meeting to allow the Finance Committee to meet
Full Council meeting was suspended for the purpose of allowing the Finance Committee Meeting to convene to take up Item 4A:

Councilor Vacon raised a point of order noting that the order is right now in the Finance Committee jacket. Councilor Vacon asked why the committee could not operate in regular order and have a Finance Committee meeting scheduled and then move the order to the full Council.

Councilor McGee stated that there is precedent for doing this and that this is in regular order. Councilor McGee mentioned that the procedure has been done and that there is a time restriction on the Council for moving on Item 4A. Councilor Vacon stated that she is not doubting the legality of the procedure but stated that she is questioning the necessity of going ahead this way out of regular order.

Motion passed to recess the full Council meeting to allow the Finance Committee to convene motion passed by voice vote.

Finance Meeting was called to order for the purpose of taking up Item 4A by a 5-0 vote: McGiverin, Sullivan, Leahy, Tallman, Bartley

Item 4A: 4A. The Committee on Finance to whom was referred a communication from Dr. Stephen Zrike, Superintendent/Receiver, Anthony Soto, Chief of Finance and Operations, Whitney Anderson, Maintenance Administrator, Erin Linville, Chief of Strategy and Turnaround, Letter Re: Recommendation to submit a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for 1 New Middle School: Councilor McGiverin gave brief history of the previous meeting that took place on the order noting that it was tabled after a wide range of public comment and feedback from the School Receiver and members of the School Board along with other City Depts. Motion was made and seconded to refer the order to the full Council to allow for one uniform debate and discussion and to allow for Councilors to ask questions: Motion passed 4-1(Bartley dissenting) Motion was made and seconded to adjourn the Finance Committee meeting: Finance Committee meeting was adjourned.

Motion was made and seconded for the Full Council to come out of recess: Motion passed by voice vote: Councilor McGiverin spoke to the full Council and stated that he felt that waiting until 5/5 to take up this item would be waiting until the 11th hour to take up this item. Councilor McGiverin stated that acting on this item would simply allow for the City to formally allow the City to be considered by the MSBA for funding for a new school. Councilor McGiverin stated that to approve this SOI is something procedural and does not bind the City into any financial obligation or otherwise and that it is a very early initial move in order to make sure that the City can at least see what its options could be for financing new schools in the City. Councilor McGiverin again spoke on the previous Finance Meeting where public comment was opened up and a number of different public commentators were allowed to speak.

Rules were suspended to allow the guest participants to speak to the City Council:

Whitney Anderson spoke and gave overview of material contained in the Statement of Interest. Whitney Anderson gave a rundown of advanced improvement projects that have been taking place in the City Schools. Mr. Anderson spoke on the SOI and noted that its approval would allow the school to come into consideration for a project to come forward to modernize and update the City Schools. It was noted that May 6th is the deadline to get this approved. It was also noted that if this step is approved there would be a more thorough application process. Mr. Anderson stated that the City would need to target one location for consideration of a new school. It was noted that the City must enter into the initial SOI a location where a new school would go or where improvements would be made. Mr. Anderson stated that though this must be filled in it is changeable and can be altered down the road in the application process. Dr. Zrike added that the City can go ahead and appoint a building committee if it so chooses at any point in this process noting that the City would not have to wait until things move further down the line. Dr. Zrike and Whitney Anderson reiterated that this vote is a non-appropriation vote that would allow the process to move forward.

Councilor Bartley stated that the affordability issue is somehow lost in translation and not discussed here. Councilor Bartley stated that there is still a listed intention to spend 0.5 million dollars to a new school building. Councilor Bartley read from the MSBA website and stated that he did not see anything that indicates that May 5th is a hard deadline for this SOI. Councilor Bartley read off verbiage from the MSBA stating “that an SOI should only be filed for a facility where the district has the financial ability to proceed with a construction process at this time” Councilor Bartley also quoted a wording from the MSBA that stated “that an SOI should only be filed for a facility where the district has the financial ability to proceed with a construction process at this time or next two years” Councilor Bartley asked for some details on what the source of this funding would be in the City budget and how the City would have this funding capability relative to the potential project. Mayor’s Assistant Mike Bloomberg spoke and stated that he can’t project three years of revenue growth but noted that if revenue growth continues that could be a plan for funding the project. Mr. Bloomberg stated that the discussion for the City would be whether or not to prioritize this potential project over other City expenditures. Mr. Bloomberg stated that many discussions would need to take place about funding but that this vote is to allow the City to get into the pipeline of consideration. Councilor Bartley stated that budgeting is a vital thing and that it is important that the City budget for these kinds of expenditures if it intends to go in this direction. Councilor Bartley spoke on budget restrictions and likely continued budget issues with the ongoing health crisis. Councilor Bartley stated that this vote is hypocritical and gives false hope to the tax payer. Councilor Bartley stated that it is monumentally consequential that funds be identified that would be used for this purpose. Councilor Bartley stated that he feels the order should be tabled for now until revenue sources can be identified.

Whitney Anderson spoke and stated that the state will receive this invitation and then the State will decide whether or not it will entertain Holyoke as a candidate in this program. Mr. Anderson stated that there is no guarantee that this will go forward even if it is approved. It was noted that the City will not even know a real cost of a project without taking this procedural step.

Gladys Lebron-Martinez spoke and asked what would happen if the City missed the deadline to approve this SOI. Mr. Anderson answered that if the City missed the deadline it would need to wait another full year before it could be considered again.

Councilor Vacon spoke and asked the Finance chair aout two questions that came from the meeting: 1 Availability of bonding that could be brought to bare for the project: Councilor Vacon asked if anything was submitted to the Finance Chair; Co. Mcgiverin stated the question would be how much the City would be bonding for. Co. McGiverin stated that right now there is no bonding and no cost until the city goes further in the process. Co. McGiverin stated some of the affordability issues and some of the things that would need to happen including appropriate reimbursement rates that would need to take place in order for this to work.

Councilor Vacon stated that the question was what the City’s capacity for bonding was and noted that the auditor was going to get back with a response. Co. Vacon wanted to know if there was any info provided on the City's bonding capacity and stated that this is important for the City to know before it moves forward with these kinds of votes. Councilor Vacon stated that she has filed an order for a building committee that has been tabled in Ordinance committee.

Peter Tallman asked Dr. Zrike about the previous school building advisory committee and stated that he would like this committee to be set up differently with a more diverse group of people to represent the City down the road. Dr. Zrike spoke and stated that there is currently no building committee and that the previous committee had been disbanded after it was voted down the by the voters in November. It was noted that the Mayor has the authority to create the building committee and can do so at any time and with a makeup of the Mayor’s choosing. Dr. Zrike stated that he supports the idea of having a more diverse group of representatives on the new school building authority. Mayor Morse also stated that he is aware that the CC is considering a school building authority but that this committee would not have authority in relation to MSBA. Mayor Morse encouraged people to come forward if they would like join this committee and that he would also like the committee to be diverse and with a range of views. Mayor Morse spoke and noted that there are going to be some difficult times ahead because of the fiscal challenge at all levels of government due to the corona virus. Mayor Morse further stated that he feels the City would be able to finance this kind of project of the City prioritizes it when the time comes.

Councilor Murphy spoke and noted that he would support this vote even though he has questions about how to finance it going forward. Councilor Murphy stated that there needs to be enhanced community involvement in this process to hopefully get the public unified in whatever direction the City moves in. Councilor Murphy asked at what time the City would need to provide more specifics as to the location of the school? Whitney Anderson spoke and gave some generalities and considerations that would be included in the process but noted that it would be down the line probably in 180 days or so. Devin Sheehan spoke and stated that MSBA makes most of their decisions at their December meeting so this could be a date to look to. Councilor Murphy stated that it is imperative if the City does do this it does not sacrifice vital City services. Councilor Murphy also brought up concerns on re-locating students during a potential school construction.

Councilor Sullivan spoke and stated that representatives from the state were very adamant in their enthusiasm for helping the City and working with the City on financing and keeping the City in the pipeline. Councilor Sullivan stated that any special consideration the City of Holyoke may enjoy is all at the window if the City does not take this initial step to allow for basic consideration.

Councilor Leahy thanked the Mayor, Dr. Zrike, Devin Sheehan, and others for their work and efforts for keeping the City involved in this process. Councilor Leahy stated that there is a need for a 21st century school in the City of Holyoke.

Councilor Greaney stated that he would like to ensure that the City begin rapidly to think about budgeting and financing for this if it is going to go forward.

It was noted that money would need to be appropriated thorough a bond or other method in order to consider consultants and other expenditures needed to move ahead.

The Committee on Finance to whom was referred a communication from Dr. Stephen Zrike, Superintendent/Receiver, Anthony Soto, Chief of Finance and Operations, Whitney Anderson, Maintenance Administrator, Erin Linville, Chief of Strategy and Turnaround, Letter Re: Recommendation to submit a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for 1 New Middle School.
(The City Council will take a short recess to allow the Finance Committee to meet and discuss this order)
have considered the same and awaiting disposition.

Committee Members:
Joseph M. McGiverin
Peter R. Tallman
Michael J. Sullivan
James M. Leahy
David K. Bartley

---> Report of Committee received and Adopted on a call of the roll of the yeas and nays --Yeas 13--Nays 0--Absent 0.

PRESIDENT'S REPORT:
Councilor McGee stated that there are some options for public comment including having a public comment email address. Councilor McGee thanked City Council Admin. Assistant, Scott MacPherson from Holyoke media for helping to coordinate the zoom meetings. Councilor McGee thanked all first responders Police, Paramedics, Nurses, and others. It was noted that the rest of the school year has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 virus and health crisis. Councilor McGee stated that this is ad but the City will work together to get through this difficult time.

ORDERS AND TRANSFERS


MURPHY, Bartley Ordered, that Ordered that the city engineer examine the fenced in properties at the northeast intersection of St Vincent St and Ingleside/Rte 5 to determine if it might be possible to improve the property by constructing some single family homes.  This property is at the southwest corner of the Dean School parking lot, has a lot of fallen debris from damaged trees, and has been a place where people feel free to throw trash.  Please issue a report back to the city council by the first meeting in August.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Engineer .

MURPHY Ordered, that Ordered that the city engineer study the potential for installing roundabouts at the intersections on Main Street, High Street, and Maple Street between Jackson Street and Dwight Street for which travel is currently controlled by traffic lights.  If feasible at any of these intersections, studies have shown the potential of the following benefits.
1. Conserves gas and reduces air pollution because it does away with idling at red lights and the extra emissions from accelerating at green lights.
2. Conserves electricity with fewer traffic-light fixtures, and lowers potential investments on new fixtures and maintenance.
3. Reduces driver-based injury and fatality rates by almost 70% .
4. Reduces travel times in many cases as well. 
Engineering study should be returned to the full city council by the first meeting in August.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Engineer.

SULLIVAN, McGee, Tallman Ordered, that That the City Engineer review an access the safety of the parking deck for City Hall. Please report back to the City Council.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Engineer.

VACON Ordered, that the City Council recommends  a hiring and spending freeze be instituted due to the economic distress caused by business closures in response
to the corona pandemic.

---> Received and adopted.

VACON Ordered, that the Mayor present a plan to safely re-open businesses (closed due to the corona virus) as soon as possible

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mayor.

BARTLEY, Vacon Ordered, that The City Council requests the Mayor and the Emergency Management Team to post all COVID-19-related communications to Channel 15 and to post updates daily at least until Governor Baker lifts the Commonwealth’s state of emergency

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mayor.

BARTLEY Ordered, that The Mayor and/or the Mayor’s Legislative Assistant provide an update to the City Council at its April 21, 2020 meeting or at the next scheduled CC meeting on work completed by the “Incident Command Structure” which was sent to city council via a Mayoral press release dated 3/25/20. The Press release is attached here.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mayor.

BARTLEY Ordered, that DPW fix the curbs in front of both 14 and 18 Harrison Ave. I’m happy to meet on site to discuss.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the DPW. Copy to Public Safety.

BARTLEY Ordered, that DPW and City Engineer advise city council about installation of more efficient catch basins especially on steep hills such as W. Glen St.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the DPW. Copy to Public Safety.

BARTLEY Ordered, that The City Auditor, Treasurer, Tax Collector and Mayor/Legislative Assistant provide financial updates to the public relative to tax collection. Please advise on how the City will support payroll needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Auditor, Treasurer, Tax Collector, Mayor, Mike Bloomberg. Copy to Finance.

BARTLEY Ordered, that the City Council approve an updated inter-municipal agreement between the City of Holyoke with Amherst, Chicopee, Easthampton, Northampton, Springfield, South Hadley, West Springfield, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, titled "Memorandum of Understanding for ValleyBike Share, as signed by the Mayor on March 11, 2020.

---> Received and referred to the Finance Committee.

BARTLEY Ordered, that The Mayor, the Legislative Assistant, and OPED Director in his role as Deputy Manager of the Municipal Emergency Operations Center (MEOC), please explain to city council the jurisdiction of the City of Holyoke over the Soldiers' Home and any state-owned building within the city limits.  For example, what role does the Mayor have in the chain of command at the Soldiers' Home?  What roles do the Building Commissioner, Board of Health Director, Police Dept. and Fire Dept. have at the Soldiers' Home?  How much regular contact does the Veterans Dept. have at the Soldiers' Home?  Please reply with a communication from each of the above-named departments and the MEOC to the city council by the end of May and please refer this order and the upcoming memos to the Public Safety committee for a hearing.

---> Received and referred to the Public Safety Committee. Copy to All parties.

HERNANDEZ Ordered, that Ordered that the City Engineer review the traffic situation on Connor Avenue and Pleasant St. at the Dwight and Appleton intersections. On-street residential parking in certain areas is making it nearly impossible for public safety trucks and other large vehicles to maneuver through these roads. Recommendations should be made to mitigate this problem.

---> Received and referred to the Public Safety Committee.

LISI Ordered, that that the Mayor, come before the finance and/or ordinance committees to discuss broad plans for budgeting in FY21. Given that City Hall is largely shut down and many residents will be facing financial hardships that will limit our property tax revenues in the next year (or more) how can we identify essential services, consolidate functions, re-purpose personnel, and so on, in order to create drastic cost savings measures for the City.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mayor. Copy to Finance.

LISI Ordered, that the City Council hold a hearing to explore preparation for the upcoming 2020 elections in September and November, including the feasibility of an all vote-by-mail election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that representatives from the Secretary of State’s office, the Holyoke Registrar of Voters, the Holyoke City Clerk, and other relevant State and City departments, voting advocacy organizations, and members of the public be invited to testify (via remote teleconferencing if need be). 

---> Received and referred to the Public Service Committee. Copy to City Clerk, Administrative Assistant.

LISI Ordered, that the City Council invite Mike Bloomberg as the Emergency Management director to give an update on the City's COVID-19 response including, but not limited to steps the City has taken to secure resident safety; any measurable outcomes that have resulted from our emergency response; an update on what the various working groups are presently doing; any temporary or long term staffing changes that have taken place; preliminary thoughts about how COVID-19 will affect FY21 budgeting.

Councilors are encouraged to also submit specific questions to Mr. Bloomberg in advance of Tuesday's meeting

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mike Bloomberg.

LISI, Anderson-Burgos, Hernandez, Lebron-Martinez Ordered, that in an effort to enhance food access and security for our residents during these uncertain times that we expedite a backyard chicken ordinance as well as review of the permitting process for community gardens to ensure that it facilitates easy access and use of such sites 

---> Received and referred to the Ordinance Committee.

MCGIVERIN Ordered, that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2020, SEVEN THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN AND 73/100 Dollars ($7,727.73) as follows:

FROM:
12101-51105 SERGEANTS $3,321.35
12101-51107 PATROLMEN 4,496.38
TOTAL: $7,727.73
TO:
12101-51180 INJURED ON DUTY $7,727.73
TOTAL: $7,727.73

To the City Council:
I hereby recommend the passage of the above order at the meeting of your Council to be held Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Alex B Morse, Mayor

---> Passed two readings and Adopted on a call of the roll of the yeas and nays --Yeas 13--Nays 0--Absent 0.

MCGEE Ordered, that The City Council receive an update from the Mayor's Office on the status of ongoing emergency operations.

---> Received and adopted. Referred to the Mike Bloomberg.

MCGIVERIN Ordered, that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2020, TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY ONE AND 32/100 Dollars ($2,121.32) as follows:

FROM:
12201-51105 FIREFIGHTER $2,121.32
TOTAL: $2,121.32
TO:
12201-51180 INJURED ON DUTY $2,121.32
TOTAL: $2,121.32

To the City Council:
I hereby recommend the passage of the above order at the meeting of your Council to be held Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Alex B Morse, Mayor

---> Passed two readings and Adopted on a call of the roll of the yeas and nays --Yeas 13--Nays 0--Absent 0.

MCGIVERIN Ordered, that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council hereby accepts the provisions of the "SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION " grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

To the City Council:
I hereby recommend the passage of the above order at the meeting of your Council to be held Tuesday, April 21, 2020.

Alex B Morse, Mayor

---> Passed two readings and Adopted on a call of the roll of the yeas and nays --Yeas 13--Nays 0--Absent 0.

LATE FILED ORDERS & COMMUNICATIONS






Adjourn at 09:20 PM.
A true record
ATTEST:


______________________________
City Clerk


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