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Development & Governmental Relations Committee Meeting February 22, 2021

Feb 22 2021

6:30 pm Remote by Zoom

,

City Council

Holyoke Massachusetts

Notice of Committee Meeting

There will be a regular meeting of the committee on

Development and Governmental Relations

Meeting to take place remotely on Zoom Meetings on Monday 2-22-21 at 6:30PM

Per order of the Chair: David Bartley

*** Meeting will take place remotely and can be accessed via www.zoom.us Meeting ID:

838 7335 3208 Meeting Passcode: 784973 or by call in at 1 (929)205-6099 with same Meeting ID and Passcode. ***

 

Agenda:

Item 1: Minutes from the last meeting.

Item 2a: 12-15-20 Hernandez - Ordered, that the City Council adopt a similar resolution to that of the attached from Springfield. The committee should invite Councilor Adam Gomez and Melissa Mark Veverito to our next committee meeting for a discussion.

Item 2b: Resolution calling upon Congressman Richard Neal, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Edward Markey to support the passage of H.R. 8113, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020. This document reflects necessary changes made to account for differences between Springfield and Holyoke regarding historical background and demographic data.

Item 3a: PUBLIC HEARING (Continuation from December 14, 2020 and January 25th, 2021) 11/17/20 Special Permit Application of The Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, Inc. for a Drive-Thru Facility per section 7.1.6 of the Holyoke Zoning Ordinance at 500 Easthampton Rd. (Map 213 Block 00 Parcel 003).

Item 3b: 9-15-20 Letter from R. Levesque Associates requesting reinstatement and one year extension to approved special permit for Drive-Thru Facility at 500 Easthampton Road.

Item 3c: 500 Easthampton Traffic Analysis

Item 3d: 500 Easthampton Road Request for Continuance

Item 4: DCR Notice of intent to acquire a conservation restriction on parcels of land, approximately 1,465.81 acres, owned by the Town of West Springfield and located at Bear Hole Reservoir and Paucutuck Brook in West Springfield and the City of Holyoke.

Item 5: 12-15-20 McGiverin – Ordered, that the City Council’s DGR Committee work with the Planning Department and Mayoral designees to redraw the ward lines according to the new federal census.

*Tabled 1-25-21

Item 6: 12-1-20 Murphy, Anderson-Burgos, Lebron-Martinez, Lisi, McGee, Hernandez, Leahy, Tallman – Ordered, that the DGR committee meet with Holyoke Media to put together an action plan to televise city council meetings and sub-committee meetings translated into Spanish. The goal should be to televise within 48 hours of the actual meeting.

*Tabled 1-25-21

Item 7: Schedule next meeting. Potential dates: 3/29, 4/26, 5/24, 6/14

DGR Chair: David Bartley

Development and Governmental Relations (DGR) Committee

February 22, 2021

 

Members present: Chairman David Bartley, Howard Greaney, Peter Tallman, Mike Sullivan, Gladys Lebron-Martinez

Other councilors present: Terry Murphy, Libby Hernandez, Joe McGiverin, Jim Leahy, Todd McGee

 

Chairman Bartley called the meeting to order at 6:31pm.

 

Councilor Tallman made a motion to take up item 1 Chairman Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 1: Minutes from the last meeting.

UNDER DISCUSSION:

Chairman Bartley stated he skimmed the minutes and that they looked good, adding a suggestion that Admin Jeffery Anderson-Burgos speak with the City Council president if the subcommittee minutes are too much given the lengthy time of the meetings. Stated that meeting minutes are good, but may not need to be as detailed.

---> Minutes approved 4-0.

 

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the rules to take items 2a and 2b as a package. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 2a: 12-15-20 Hernandez - Ordered, that the City Council adopt a similar resolution to that of the attached from Springfield. The committee should invite Councilor Adam Gomez and Melissa Mark Veverito to our next committee meeting for a discussion.

Item 2b: Resolution calling upon Congressman Richard Neal, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Edward Markey to support the passage of H.R. 8113, the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act of 2020. This document reflects necessary changes made to account for differences between Springfield and Holyoke regarding historical background and demographic data.

Councilor Hernandez observed that Senator Adam Gomez as well as Juan Sanchez from Nueva Esperanza were in attendance to speak on the resolution.

Chairman Bartley made a motion suspend the rules to allow members of the public to address the committee on the item. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor Hernandez described the intent of resolution, adding that she had just arrived from a visit to Puerto Rico. Expressed that the legislation is to allow residents of Puerto Rico to decide their own fate relating to their status as a territory. Observed that many there are upset that a recent vote supported statehood, adding that she was in support of independence for Puerto Rico. Expressed that the people are capable of their own leadership, adding that it is time for an end to colonialism.

Sen. Gomez described the historical significance of self-determination, noting that Puerto Rico holds a plebiscite: a nonbinding referendum. Noted that the resolution has is being presented to cities with large Puerto Rican communities. Stated that the legislation emphasizes the need for the people of Puerto Rico to be heard, and to call on Congress to respond accordingly. Stated that the current effort is to support a plebiscite that is more binding, requiring action based on the results.

Sanchez noted that as Holyoke has a high concentration of Puerto Ricans, it is important to that community here. Observed that the people of the island contributes to the country just as residents of the states but do not have access to resources that states do or the representation that other American citizens have. Noted an important distinction was that previous votes only offered yes or no options in terms of becoming a state or becoming an independent nation, adding that the current effort is intended to offer multiple options when people vote. Observed that some of the obstacles are due to political reasons, noting that many in Congress believe the island would be a Democratic state.

Councilor Sullivan asked about the difference between this effort and past plebiscites.

Sen. Gomez: clarified that previous plebiscites only had two selections, choice of statehood or not, independence or not. Also noted that the previous plebiscites were nonbinding, and the intent was to have the next one be binding. Observed that previous results would not be acted on by Congress.

Councilor Sullivan stated his understanding that the legislation would make the next plebiscite binding for Congress to act on, as well as giving the citizens on the island more options.

Sen. Gomez confirmed that, noting that it would make the vote more democratic.

Councilor Sullivan suggested shortening the resolution, eliminating some of the 19 “whereas” statements, and focusing on the point.

Councilor Tallman asked for a clarification on the options voters would get, that the choice would be statehood, independence, or to stay as they are.

Sen. Gomez stated that in committee, the resolution would need to be refiled, noting that the language is as it was in the last filing.

Councilor Tallman asked for the expecting time of the next plebiscite.

Sen. Gomez stated it could be in the next two years, noting there was one in the last election cycle.

Councilor Tallman asked if this would make it more fair to the residents of Puerto Rico.

Sen. Gomez confirmed that it would be, noting it gives people more choice and making it binding.

Councilor Tallman asked how it would be binding.

Sen. Gomez stated past plebiscites were seen as advisory, a “temperature check,” adding that the proposal would have an actionable step for Congress to take.

Councilor Tallman asked if the next results would go to Congress.

Sen. Gomez observed that there has been a debate on the island over what people want, noting the push for independence has gained in support recently. Reiterated that one of the major goals in this resolution is to assure voters have multiple choices, commonwealth, statehood, or independent.

Councilor Greaney stated his understand has been that three options have been on the table, adding that he believes the people of the island should determine their destiny. Asked what additional options exist beyond the known three.

Sen. Gomez clarified that there the main three, adding that new political parties have formed with their own ideas being introduced. Observed that some are pushing to have ranked choice voting used for the vote. Reiterated that different political parties on the island have competing ideas for what their future should be.

Councilor Greaney reiterated that the people should determine their future, expressing his support for the resolution.

Councilor Leahy expressed his belief that local people should control their destiny. Requested a document describing the differences between the options that voters would have.

Sen. Gomez stated that he could get a fact sheet.

Councilor Hernandez noted that in her research, she understood how important it is for Puerto Ricans to maintain their cultural background.

Chairman Bartley noted in hearing one councilor requesting more info and needing to see an update for Holyoke, could table and take up at the March 29th committee meeting.

Councilor Hernandez stated that the requested changes had already been done.

Admin clarified that item 2b is the document reflecting Holyoke’s data.

Councilor Lebron-Martinez suggested that the requested information could be received after the fact.

---> Resolution adopted 5-0.

 

(36:05)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the rules to take up items 3a through 3d and open the public hearing. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 3a: PUBLIC HEARING (Continuation from December 14, 2020 and January 25th, 2021) 11/17/20 Special Permit Application of The Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, Inc. for a Drive-Thru Facility per section 7.1.6 of the Holyoke Zoning Ordinance at 500 Easthampton Rd. (Map 213 Block 00 Parcel 003).

Item 3b: 9-15-20 Letter from R. Levesque Associates requesting reinstatement and one year extension to approved special permit for Drive-Thru Facility at 500 Easthampton Road.

Item 3c: 500 Easthampton Traffic Analysis

Item 3d: 500 Easthampton Road Request for Continuance

UNDER DISCUSSION:

Chairman Bartley noted that the public hearing was a continuation, adding that the public has a right to speak. Observed that Rob Levesque was in attendance to represent the petitioner.  Noted that the process would be to hear from the petitioner, department heads, councilors, and the public.

Levesque noted others in attendance to discuss the item were the petitioner, Peter Martins, Peter Rosskothen from the Log Cabin, and Jeffrey Bandini, the traffic consultant from McMahon & Associates. Shared his screen to present the plans for a presentation. Described the location layout. Noted that work on the project had been ongoing, with feedback from various city department resulting in some revisions to the plan. Also noted that the permit was resubmitted as the initial one had expired. Noted that the site had reduced in size and footprint from the previous permit. Described aesthetics of the building that would blend in with the location.

Chairman Bartley noted an email had been sent by the city engineer offering recommendations and requests for the project. Clarified with Mr. Levesque that there would need to be a permit from the Board of Public Works.

Levesque confirmed that was correct.

Chairman Bartley described requested revisions for the project. Noted that the engineer sees the new site plan as an improvement from the previous plan. Further described concerns that the engineer laid out, such as space for parking, drive thru lines, and potential for traffic accidents. Noted a request for a condition on the project.

Councilor Tallman asked if the Delany Market business and the Dunkin are planned for one building, and if it was always that way.

Levesque stated the plan was always to cohabitate.

Councilor Tallman asked if there will be a walkthrough for Delaney.

Levesque stated that Delaney will be takeout pickup only, and that Dunkin would be drive-thru and pickup.

Councilor Tallman noted his biggest concern would be the traffic, especially with cars queueing up. Asked how many cars would be able to be off street for the drive-thru.

Levesque stated it would be 12.

Councilor Tallman asked if there was a way to avoid longer transactions causing a line backup into the street.

Levesque noted that they looked at three other locations with similar traffic counts, two in Westfield and another one in Holyoke. Noted that observations showed ample stacking of cars. Stated the expectation was to operate according to plan, noting that some things may be out of their control. Added that they work to make customer experiences as efficient as possible.

Councilor Tallman asked about mitigation of endangered species.

Levesque stated that as part of their conservation filing, they reduced their footprint on the paved section in coordination with the endangered species program with the state.

Councilor Tallman asked if there would be barriers or bushes on the side of the road.

Levesque noted that one city department had asked for a guardrail, adding that there were considerations for wetlands.

Councilor Tallman asked if there was enough parking for the building size.

Levesque noted that 75% of traffic for Dunkin goes through drive-thru, adding that Delaney’s market would be mostly off-hour visits. Also noted they had requested a special permit for a reduction in parking with the Planning Board.

Councilor Greaney expressed a concern regarding complications with traffic entering or exiting Mt. Tom Reservation. Asked about plan to address those issues.

Levesque noted that some comments from the Planner related to this. Stated that there was work done to look at sight distances, noting that additional observations could be done. Also noted there was limits to what they could do with property they do not own.

Councilor McGiverin asked if the 12 vehicles in the queue had been the original plan.

Levesque recalled that it was likely more.

Councilor McGiverin asked for a clarification on the endangered species that needed to be protected according to Conservation.

Levesque stated it was snakes and plants.

Councilor McGiverin recognized the need to protect, adding that snakes would likely stay away from vehicles anyway. Questioned the need to shorten the queue for species that have plenty of space in the area to be protected. Noted that there would be less parking and asked if there would be an expectation of less people going into the building.

Levesque stated that the expectation would be that less parking would result in fewer people going into the building. Noted that during Covid, there has been more of a tendency for people to use a drive-thru. Noted the contrast between this location and the Dunkin on Northampton St provides a way for people looking to park to not get congested with the line for the drive-thru.

Councilor McGiverin noted the original drive-thru plan for the Northampton St location was a previous business with more space. Suggested that after the City Council approved the plan, the site plan shortened the line. Asked if the Dunkin is a walk-in along with the drive-thru.

Levesque stated it also would be a walk-in.

Councilor McGiverin asked for the seating capacity.

Levesque stated he would have to look into that. Stated that there would be 13 parking spaces available.

Councilor McGivern asked how many fewer parking spaces from the original plan.

Levesque stated he would look into that.

Councilor McGiverin expressed concern for the loss of space. Asked how much square footage was lost due to endangered species considerations.

Levesque stated an estimate of 25,000 sq. ft. Added they lost a wooded area.

Councilor McGiverin asked for the reduction in the building space. Also noted that square footage is also lost property tax.

Levesque stated the proposed square footage to be 2,520, adding that the larger impact was a change in the shape.

Councilor McGiverin asked for the location of the guardrail.

Levesque presented the layout, noting the location of the guardrail along the south outer edge which would prevent sow from going over into the wetland.

Councilor McGiverin stated a larger concern would be people leaving Holyoke to go into Easthampton.

Councilor Lisi expressed that he appreciated the footprint was not enlarged. Asked if there was an expectation of additional vehicle trips, or if the traffic would largely be those already traveling by the location.

Levesque observed that Jeffrey Bandidi would be appropriate to answer these kinds of questions, adding that they see it as a pass by location as there are additional options for Dunkin within the city. Also stated that the special permit for shared parking has not been determined as of yet.

Bandini stated he is the project manager. Confirmed the response from Levesque had been accurate, reiterating that the location would largely catch pass by traffic.

Councilor Lisi asked how many new trips would trigger a traffic light.

Bandini stated that thresholds are based on variables such as timing in addition to traffic volume.

Councilor Lisi asked if that is explored in site plan review.

Chairman Bartley confirmed that it would be.

Councilor Lisi asked if it was known at this point if the signal warrants and volumes would be part of the discussion, or if it would not be warranted.

Levesque observed that the need for a signal hadn’t come up, adding that there was a requirement of a slip lane added to the plan.

Bandini stated they provided statistics for the site, adding that the engineer looked at traffic mitigation and signals didn’t come up.

Chairman Bartley noted that a December 3rd letter had been received from John Kelley, Chairman of the Planning Board, suggesting that the Council postpone its review until site plan review was done or condition the permit upon approval of the facility of the Planning Board. Asked for the proposed hours.

Levesque stated it would be seven days a week, 5am-10pm.

Chairman Bartley asked if Levesque had a copy of the December 3rd letter.

Levesque stated that he was not aware of the letter, but that he did discuss conditions and had a plan to work through concerns in the site plan approval process. Emphasized that the conditions were understood.

Chairman Bartley noted that the conditions described by the city engineer and the Planning Board would be attached to the approval, adding that the hours of operations would be specified. Stated that the public would be open to addressing the committee.

John Rivera, 2 Laurel St, expressed concern about the traffic impacts. Noting he is a former Dunkin employee, expressed concern for the workers who would have to compensate for the traffic. Also expressed concern for the impact on drive time when traveling between Holyoke and Easthampton.

Jennifer Myszkowski, 3 St. James Avenue, noting she lives around the corner form the Northampton St Dunkin, expressed concern about the litter generated by the location. Asked about a plan to mitigate garbage resulting from the location being proposed.

Andrea Kwart, 173 Elm St, observed Mt. Tom to be sacred to Holyoke. Stated concern about Dunkin being a business that sells an addictive substance, caffeine. Noting an intent to live in the city for decades, questioned the impact of continuing to sell an addictive substance to kids. Expressed concern for a large corporation building on Mt. Tom. Stated that short term benefits would not outweigh long term health impacts.

Chairman Bartley observing that the first speaker brought up traffic concerns, asked if there was anything to add to address those concerns.

Levesque noted that Peter Martins, the franchisee, was in attendance and would be able to address those concerns.

Martins clarified that while Dunkin is a large company, franchises are local, small businesses. Recognized that traffic was a legitimate concern. Stated when the choice to invest is made, business owners have a great deal of motivation to assure that the customer experience is efficient, noting that many customers who would be willing to return are needed to cover business costs. Reiterated that a site would not be proposed if a safe and clean location could not be provided. Recognized that issues could come up occasionally, adding that training and equipment should provide safe visits for guests.

Chairman Bartley referred to the concerns of the second speaker, noting his own concerns with trash that accumulates around fast food properties around the city. Expressed a need for a commitment to deal with litter in order to prevent it from becoming an issue in the surrounding area.

Martins noting the pride they take in their business, stated that neighbors of other properties have his contact information if they need issues addressed. Described the training and instruction employees receive to mitigate trash on and around properties.

Chairman Bartle noting the pristine nature of the Mt. Tom location, suggested partnering with conservation officials to work on keeping the area clean.

Martins noted that on visits to locations, he assures that if trash is visible from anywhere at a location, they make sure it is picked up.

Chairman Bartley expressed that his willingness to entertain the proposal was largely due to those involved in the project, noting their history of service to the city.

Councilor Murphy expressed an assumption that the majority of Dunkin customers would be coming from Easthampton but asked about the expected customer base for the Delaney Market.

Rosskothen stated that Delaney’s Market would be an experiment, adding that the expectation would be that it would be an evening business. Stated they would not expect much traffic.

Councilor Murphy asked how many full-time employees the business would have.

Rosskothen stated the expectation would be to run it with one employee. Stated the business is run as a set of refrigerators with fresh meals. Stated it would likely be three employees total. Stated it would be staffed 11am-7pm a day.

Councilor Murphy asked about staffing for Dunkin.

Martins stated that in the morning, the staffing would be 6-8 employees, with the rest of the day requiring 2-3 employees. Stated they would open 5am, with 3 at opening, adding up to 7 for the busier time in the morning, and then going down to 2 or 3 around noon.

Councilor Murphy asked if the goal was to make sure drive-thru customers were serviced quickly in the morning.

Martins noted that Dunkin locations have national standards for speed or service including clocks on the walls.

Councilor Murphy noted the concerns that have been addressed, adding that he would hope that Holyoke residents would be give priority for jobs.

Chairman Bartley asked the committee for their preference for the next step. Described the three conditions that would likely be attached, the hours of operation, the request from the city engineer, and the response from Planning. Asked about the plans for trash pickup at the location.

Levesque presented location of trash on layout of site. Stated that bypass lane would function as access to dumpsters.

Chairman Bartley asked if there was a plan for a dedicated left turn lane for the westbound side of the road going into Easthampton.

Martins stated there would need to be many considerations in determining a left turn lane, noting that it had not been part of the discussion.

Chairman Bartley asked about what would happen for those coming from Holyoke.

Martins stated that with modeling of trip distribution, they did not anticipate much traffic coming from Holyoke.

Councilor Greaney asked for assurance that Planning Board does a thorough review, with plenty of room to assure the plan works. Suggested a condition that Planning’s review be addressed for the project to go forward.

Chairman Bartley stated that a condition could be added, noting approval of the Planning Board’s approval of site plan review.

Councilor Tallman stated he believes the hours are fair.

Councilor Lebron-Martinez expressed appreciation for the project, noting the value of the concerns that had been stated.

Councilor McGiverin observed that project cannot go forward without successful site plan review. Noted that the vote is on the concept that the drive-thru will work.

Councilor Tallman noted hearing the conditions from the city engineer and the Planning Board.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to close the public hearing. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Chairman Bartley made a motion to add the suggested conditions. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion:
1. The house of operation, 7 days 5am-10pm.
2. Statement of engineer be included, specifically print on page 2 of email.
3. Conditions relevant to drive thru should be added from Planning, December 3rd.

All members voted in favor.

---> Special permit approved with the special conditions, 4-0.

 

(2:07:45)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to take item 4 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 4: DCR Notice of intent to acquire a conservation restriction on parcels of land, approximately 1,465.81 acres, owned by the Town of West Springfield and located at Bear Hole Reservoir and Paucutuck Brook in West Springfield and the City of Holyoke.

Chairman Bartley stated he had received an email from Lou Ross, a CMR certificate of announcement, and an email from Mayor William Reichelt of West Springfield. Recognized Yoni Glogower, Director of Conservation and Sustainability.

Glogower stated that West Springfield, the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Mass Audubon Society had been working together to put land under a permeant conservation restriction. Stated that around 150 acres of the land was owned by West Springfield but was within the city of Holyoke. Stated that their City Council required a vote, a signature from their mayor, as well as the same from Holyoke. Also noted that notice given at a public meeting had to be completed at least 120 day prior to the transaction. Stated that Kate O’Brien, the attorney for West Springfield, Jennifer Howard from DCR, and Bob Wilber from the Mass Audubon Society were also in attendance to address the matter.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the rules to allow these guests to address the committee. Councilor Lebron-Martinez seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Chairman Bartley asked to hear from Lou Ross, noting his email dated August 31st. Asked Mr. Ross to give a brief overview of the plan.

Ross reiterated that West Springfield, DCR, and Mass Audubon were partnering to protect approximately 1350 acres around the Bear Hole Reservoir, adding that 150 acres are in Holyoke and owned by West Springfield. Stated that an administrative requirement includes getting approval from the City Council and the Mayor of Holyoke to approve the conservation restriction. Also noted that it requires that notice be given at a public hearing.

Chairman Bartley asked about the potential dates of a public hearing.

Ross clarified that the requirement wasn’t for a formal public hearing, but for the notice made during a meeting open to the public.

Chairman Bartley asked if the announcement at this meeting was sufficient.

Ross consider it did.

Chairman Bartley asked if that concluded it.

Ross stated that the documents included the certificate that could be signed.

Chairman Bartley read the certificate noting the announcement at a public hearing, noting that the one available had the name of the City Council present.

Ross stated that a blank form would also be available.

O’Brien stated that Atty Ross covered most of the details, adding that West Springfield was excited about the plan.

Howard stated that the one part of the process is the notice which had been covered, adding that a letter from the Mayor of West Springfield. Clarified that the letter would come in the next month.

Chairman Bartley asked for clarification on what the process should be when the item gets recommended out to the full City Council.

Howard stated that the notice being read satisfied the first requirement, adding that the additional need would be for the City Council and the Mayor to sign the conservation restriction document.

Chairman Bartley asked if the plan was to provide additional documentation through the City Clerk to the Council.

O’Brien confirmed that it was.

Wilber stated that Mass Audubon began 125 years ago by two women and had been the first such society in the world. Stated that the organization has a large educational arm and is devoted to helping in the city. Stated that they had been in elementary schools to help with environmental education. Noted their plan was to visit all elementary schools I the coming year.

Chairman Bartley suggested that Mr. Wilber could be invited back for more discussion on what the organization can do for Holyoke students. Clarified the process for having an order filed.

Councilor Sullivan asked if West Springfield was receiving funds for the conservation restriction.

Howard stated they would be receiving $1 million combined from DCR and Mass Audubon, working out to roughly $700 an acre determined through an appraisal process.

Councilor Sullivan asked if any of the funds would go to Holyoke.

Howard stated that the entire amount would go to West Springfield, noting they own the proiperty.

Councilor Sullivan stated that the restriction would be forever placed on property in Holyoke.

Howard stated that land would be protected for water supply and other purposes.

Howard suggested that Kate O’Brien may have some insight into protocol.

O’Brien stated that West Springfield paid Holyoke for the property over 100 years ago. Also stated it was acquired for watershed purposes and due to state regulation, likely would not have been developed with or without the restriction. Stated that West Springfield would be like a private land owner.

Councilor Sullivan stated that a private land owner could sell for residential or commercial use, adding that in this scenario, the property could never be developed. Asked for a clarificaiotn on how many years ago it was sold.

O’Brien stated that it was around 100 years ago.

Councilor Sullivan stated that property taxes likely hadn’t been paid in that time. Noted that the restriction was contingent on Holyoke approving the restriction without receiving any of the funds.

O’Brien expressed she understood he concern, adding that the step was being taken in the best interest of the public.

Councilor Sullivan recognized the interest of the public, reiterating that one town was getting funds and the other wasn’t.

Councilor Tallman asked to clarify that West Springfield owned the land, but a portion is in Holyoke, and that it was known for many years.

O’Brien confirmed.

Councilor Tallman asked if the Holyoke Water Department had a role due it being near the Ashley Reservoir.

O’Brien stated that the statute requires the City Council and the Mayor to approve it, adding that the Water Department wouldn’t have any role in the approval process.

Councilor Tallman asked to clarify that the watershed interest was being protected.

O’Brien stated that the watershed was offline for West Springfield since 2009. Stated that the state approved a transfer of use from being a watershed to recreation property.

Councilor Tallman clarified that the matter was a notice of intent with the required signatures.

O’Brien clarified that the notice was that DCR was acquiring an interest of property, reiterating that Mayor Reichelt would be sending a notice for approval by the City Council and the Mayor of Holyoke.

Councilor Greaney stated that Holyoke should be getting some benefit from the transaction, adding a suggestion that the Holyoke City Solicitor look into the transaction to protect the rights of the citizens of Holyoke.

Councilor McGiverin expressed that he understood the points being raised. Noted that Holyoke protects its watershed land and reservoirs, noting that the land would likely never be developed. Stated that the land is fed by a spring. Stated that conservation restrictions are important, adding that Holyoke may have more CR land than any community in the region of the state. Expressed that the role of the City Council should be to sign off on the conservation restriction on land that the city does not own, and that it would be the right thing to do.

Councilor Sullivan suggested that given the figure of $700 an acre, $105,000 should go to Holyoke.

Chairman Bartley recognized that West Springfield owns the land, adding that Holyoke owns land in other towns. Observed that there financial arrangements exist with those other communities. Recognized the value of the suggestion from Councilor Greaney, adding that guidance from Holyoke’s law department may be appropriate. Asked about the timeline to get the letter from West Springfield, as well as the timeline for approving the restriction.

O’Brien observed that several steps were being finalized such as language vetting and surveys, and that the CR should be sent to Holyoke within the next month, adding that the closing date needed to happen before the end of the fiscal year, June 30th.

Chairman Bartley noted that the committee planned to hold its next meetings on March 29th, April 26th, May 24th, and June 14th. Expressed agreement with Councilor Greaney on getting legal guidance.

Councilor Geaney made a motion to refer the matter to the legal department. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion.

Councilor Tallman suggested it would be prudent to see the legal draft first, adding that legal would likely see it before the Mayor signed anyway.

Councilor McGiverin noted that the agreement with Southampton provides as much free water as they need, adding that as it has to be filtered, they don’t take any water. Expressed a need to protect bear Hole. Noted that a quarry had been closed on Mt. Tom, adding that a company was planning to fill the quarry in. Expressed a concern with the impact of a quarry near Bear Hole.

Councilor Sullivan asked if the item would be tabled while waiting for a response from the legal department.

Chairman Bartley stated that the committee can refer to legal and allow the item to remain in committee.

Councilor Sullivan expressed favor of protecting the area, adding his interest was assuring Holyoke did not leave funds on the table.

Chairman Bartley made a motion to request that the response from the legal department in time for the March 16th Council meeting. Motion passed.

---> Motion to table passed 5-0.

 

Councilor Lebron-Martinez asked for a clarification of an item that appeared to have been on the agenda, the appointment of Marcos Marrero.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos stated that the mistake had been his, noting that he mistakenly posted a draft agenda prior to receiving final approval from Chairman Bartley.

Councilor Lebron-Martinez asked if the item would be taken up at a future meeting.

Chairman Bartley clarified that discussion of that item would be a violation of open meeting law.

 

(2:49:40)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to take item 5 off the table. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 5: 12-15-20 McGiverin – Ordered, that the City Council’s DGR Committee work with the Planning Department and Mayoral designees to redraw the ward lines according to the new federal census.

Chairman Bartley stated the plan was to take up the item at each meeting until it was eventually passed, noting that it had been taken up briefly in the January meeting.

Councilor McGiverin expressed the importance of getting the work done, with an emphasis on the lines being redrawn in a way that makes sense and that keeps neighborhoods together. Observed that there had been a delay in the federal census, noting that the results would normally be available already.

Aaron Vega, OPED Director, stated that the liaison submitted information and would be providing data in the Spring. Stated it was not expected to be available in time for it to impact the November election. Stated an expectation that Jeffrey Burkott would have maps when available. Stated that information from the state was being made available. Asked about the potential of forming a separate committee to handle the issue.

Chairman Bartley stated that the item would be placed on future agendas. Stated that he did not believe it needed to be handled with an ad hoc committee but would defer to the maker of the order.

Councilor McGiverin noted that this committee had traditionally handled the work. Suggested that a waiver may be necessary to use a waiver beyond this year’s election. Observed that it had fallen into place ten years but twenty years ago had not been easy.

Chairman Bartley noted that one positive aspect to Zoom was the ability to see the maps more easily. Asked for Vega to send additional information by the March 29th committee meeting, advising on if the lines needed to be drawn for the coming election.

Councilor Tallman recalled that in the previous redrawing, they had been used for the following election. Also noted that the Redevelopment Committee had done the work before.

Chairman Bartley stated he filed an order to form a committee that would work on studying polling locations, adding his hope that a commission would be set up soon. Noted that the locations have room for improvement. Asked Vega to work with the Council President and the Mayor, as well as poll workers and the City Clerk’s office to address the matter of locations without an overly political process.

Councilor McGiverin suggested the item could be tabled in order to consider more information at a later time.

Councilor Lebron-Martinez asked who would have the authority to determine the members of a commission, noting the suggestion that politicians not be involved.

Chairman Bartley reiterated that he filed an order asking the City Council President to form a commission to look at polling locations in the city. Restated his hope that the commission would not be fully populated by politicians. Stated that a plan should be in place by the end of June. Also noted the importance of understanding which election the new ward lines have to be ready for.

---> Motion to table passed 5-0

 

(3:02:00)

Councilor Sullivan made a motion to take item 6 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 6: 12-1-20 Murphy, Anderson-Burgos, Lebron-Martinez, Lisi, McGee, Hernandez, Leahy, Tallman – Ordered, that the DGR committee meet with Holyoke Media to put together an action plan to televise city council meetings and sub-committee meetings translated into Spanish. The goal should be to televise within 48 hours of the actual meeting.

Councilor Murphy noted progress had been made since the previous meeting. Expressed hope in the opportunity to provide information toa wider portion of the Holyoke population. Stated his understanding that the costs could be paid through unencumbered funds from the municipal projects account from Comcast and Holyoke Media. Suggested that the translations begin with City Council meetings and potential transition to committee meetings at a later time. Suggested that this could result in a more informed and engaged citizenry.

Councilor McGiverin asked if meetings would be translated verbatim, adding a need for more discussion if not.

Scott MacPherson, Holyoke Media, stated that interpretation can happen in one of two ways, explaining that one could be word for word and the other could be translating the gist of what is said which is more commonly done. Noted the importance of hiring professional translators who recognize the importance of translating effectively.

Councilor McGiverin observed that when councilors speak, they must own their words and potentially apologize or correct themselves, if necessary. Emphasized a need for what is said to be translated accurately.

Councilor Greaney agreed with that sentiment. Stated that what is said and the gist could be different. Suggested that even punctuations or expressions can change the meaning of what is said. Expressed a need to be careful, noting the times we are living in, the translated words need to be clean and concise.

Councilor Murphy stated that those who might tune in at the time, any interpretation they receive is based on whoever is providing it, not professional, and may have biases.  Stated he would be surprised if interpretation turned out to be an issue. Noted that newspapers often misquote but usually cover the theme of what was said. Emphasized the need for the community to have more informed citizenry, adding that possibly 5-10% would not be able to listen to a City Council meeting because they don’t have comfort with English language.

Councilor Tallman stated this is needed in the community, noting the high Hispanic population in the city. Recognized the concerns being expressed, adding that it would not be perfect. Noted it had been years since the Council had ben working on making this happen.

Councilor Sullivan noted that a professional interpreter would have a high standard and not have any biases. Stated that if an issue happened, he expected it would be addressed quickly.

Councilor Greaney stated he would support the initiative, adding a need to be careful.

Chairman Bartley asked about the mechanics, as well as the timeline and the costs.

MacPherson stated that while on Zoom, the software has a function that allows an interpreter to be designated. Stated that it would require an upgrade of the account, adding that the funds were available to cover the cost. Stated that for the transmission, it would initially be broadcast on two channels, adding that when Council returned to meeting in person, the interpreter would be in a separate room interpreting. Stated that with costs, hardware costs would be roughly $10K, with interpretation costs around $500 a meeting. Reiterated that the costs could be covered with franchise fees.

Councilor McGiverin asked who would be hiring the translators.

MacPherson stated that he was in talks with employees of the school department’s translation department. Stated it would be invoicing, not a hiring matter.

Councilor McGiverin asked if the schools would be determining who translates the City Council.

MacPherson stated that the interpreters are a group of 2-3 interpreters that are used regularly, with additional contracted out.

Councilor McGiverin asked to confirm if the translation would be live, and that it would be $500 per meeting.

MacPherson confirmed that was correct.

Councilor McGiverin noted that there are some weeks with four meetings. Asked if there had been consideration for the translation of the minutes.

MacPherson stated he had not been in discussion about those.

Councilor McGivern suggested that the cost to the city was not yet known.

MacPherson clarified that the costs would not come from city funds.

Councilor Murphy stated that part of the reason for costs being higher than originally planned was due to two people trading off duties during the course of a meeting. Reiterated that the original goal was to translate full Council meetings and revisit subcommittee meetings later.

Councilor Greaney asked for a guarantee that the interpreters would be without bias.

MacPherson stated that professional interpreters have a duty to interpret professional, adding that they likely have a code of ethics they must follow.

Councilor Bartley recommended approving, as well as suggesting that decisions on translators include the consultation of the City Council President.

---> Approved 4-0

Adjourned at 9:57 PM.


Jeffery Anderson-Burgos
Administrative Assistant to the City Council

Holyoke City Hall
536 Dwight St, Room 10
Holyoke, MA 01040
Regular hours 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Meeting days 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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