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Development & Governmental Relations Committee Meeting March 29, 2021

Mar 29 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 & Government Relations (DGR)

 

Meeting to take place remotely on Zoom Meetings on Monday 3/29/21 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: 835 0197 1274 Meeting Passcode: 166528 or by call in at 1 (929)205-6099 with same Meeting ID and Passcode.  ***

 

Agenda:

Item 1: Minutes from the last meeting.

Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING 3-2-21 Special Permit Application for Anthony W. Dominguez at 50 Upland Rd for a non-conforming structure to change property from non-conforming to conforming to use as a storage area for personal storage and for a vehicle.

Item 3: 3-2-21 MCGEE -- Ordered, that the DGR Committee invite in Jim Welch and the CEO of Mira Vista to discuss the Providence Hospital.

Item 4a: 10-6-20 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.

*Tabled 2-22-21

Item 4b: 3-2-21 Letter from Mayor William C. Reichelt of Town of West Springfield regarding Town of West Springfield Conservation Restriction.

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, 2-22-21

Item 6: Whiting Street Reservoir Committee – Discussion of minutes: 12-17-20, 1-5-21, 1-19-21, 2-2-21, 2-16-21, 3-2-21

Item 7: 12-1-20 Bartley -- That the Honorable City Council, in accordance with M.G.L. ch. 30B and the Holyoke Procurement Ordinance, vote to accept an offer of $6,000 from Gregory M. Virgilio to purchase and 416 Appleton Street which is a vacant lot approximately 2,526 square feet in size.  The property is identified in the Holyoke Assessor’s records as Map 061, Block 02, Parcel 014, is zoned Downtown Residential (DR) and has an assessed value of $4,600.

Item 8: 1-19-21 Bartley -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 30B and the Holyoke Code of Ordinances procurement ordinance, declare 60 Hamilton Street (Assessors Map 028, Block 04, Parcel 016) as surplus property available for disposition. Said parcel is identified by the Holyoke. The property is approximately 5,749 square feet in size, zoned Highway Business and has an assessed value of $23,000.

Item 9: 1-19-21 Bartley -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s urban renewal plan entitled, “Connect. Construct. Create. - A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke” which was approved by the Holyoke City Council on December 4, 2012 and as amended on December 15, 2020, vote to approve the transfer of 60 Hamilton Street (Assessors Map 028, Block 04, Parcel 016) to the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority for consideration of $1.00.  Said parcel is approximately 5,749 square feet in size, Highway Business and has an assessed value of $23,000.

Item 10: 1-19-21 Bartley -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s urban renewal plan entitled, “Connect. Construct. Create. - A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke” which was approved by the Holyoke City Council on December 4, 2012 and as amended on December 15, 2020, vote to approve the transfer of 55 Hamilton Street (Assessors Map 028, Block 03, Parcel 006) to the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority for consideration of $1.00. Said parcel is approximately 3,485 square feet in size, zoned Downtown Residential, has an assessed value of $31,500 and was declared surplus property on June 26, 2018.

Item 11: Schedule next meeting. Potential dates: 4/26, 5/24, 6/14

 

Administrative Assistant: Jeffery Anderson-Burgos

The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. Also one or two items may require the committee to enter into executive session at this meeting. Agenda subject to change up to two business days (48 hours) prior to posted meeting time.

DGR Chair: David Bartley

DGR Committee

March 29, 2021

 

Members present: Chairman Bartley, Councilor Sullivan, Councilor Greaney, Councilor Tallman

Other councilors present: Councilor McGiverin, Councilor Murphy, Councilor Leahy

 

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

 

Chairman Bartley stated that meeting minutes were not available, and that item 1 would be skipped for this meeting.

 

Councilor Sullivan made a motion to take item 2 off the table and open the public hearing. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 2: PUBLIC HEARING 3-2-21 Special Permit Application for Anthony W. Dominguez at 50 Upland Rd for a non-conforming structure to change property from non-conforming to conforming to use as a storage area for personal storage and for a vehicle.

---> Recommended that the order be adopted, with condition that the lighting would not materially affect the abutters. 4-0

Chairman Bartley noted that the taxes had been paid and that the tax collector had signed off. Stated that department heads had not weighed in. Observed that Mr. Dominguez prefers to be called Walt.

Dominguez stated that he purchased the lot across the street from his home which has a garage. Stated his intent was to use the garage to store his car, along with extra home items, adding that he would like to add electricity to provide heat to the garage and charge his car.

Chairman Bartley asked if that covered the details.

Dominguez stated that not much would change other than helping the garage fit into the neighborhood better, noting the garage was rundown and an eyesore.

Chairman Bartley asked for the garage’s proximity to his house.

Dominguez stated it was across the street from the Holyoke Water Works building.

Chairman Bartley asked for approximate distance from his front door.

Dominguez estimated it to be roughly 500 feet.

Councilor Tallman asked if there was anything else on the lot besides the garage.

Dominguez stated that it was only a garage.

Councilor Tallman asked for the size of the land.

Dominguez stated it was 0.27 acres. Also stated he would like to add a house following the end of a moratorium on the street due to recent repaving.

Councilor Tallman asked for clarification of the intent to store his car.

Dominguez stated he does not drive the car often, adding that he drives his truck more often and allows his wife to store her car in the garage attached to their house.

Councilor Tallman asked if there would be lighting installed.

Dominguez stated that he would assure the lighting would not shine into neighbors’ windows.

Councilor Tallman observed that many of the house are not far apart in the area.

Dominguez stated he had spoken with the neighbors, stated his intent, and had not received any concerns from them.

Councilor Tallman clarified the intent and asked if there would be excess noise.

Dominguez stated there would not be excess noise.

Councilor Greaney asked if 500 feet was accurate, noting it to be nearly two football fields.

Dominguez clarified it was likely less than that, adding that his frontage was around 175 feet.

Councilor McGiverin asked if 50 Upland Rd was his home address or the address in the petition.

Dominguez clarified that his address was 37, adding that he had the City give him the address of 50 for the parcel so that it could be identified.

Councilor McGiverin asked if anyone could explain why the parcel is non-conforming, noting it is a residential zone with a garage and a buildable lot.

Chairman Bartley suggested offering a department head a chance to address that question when he opened up the floor. Stated he heard from the Ward 5 councilor that she was in support of the petition. Noted that no relevant department heads appeared to be in attendance. Asked the Admin Asst to email the building commissioner’s office to get an answer to Councilor McGiverin’s question.

Dominguez stated that he was told it was non-conforming because the garage did not belong to a house.

Chairman Bartley suggested the Building Department could expand on the description given by Mr. Dominguez.

Councilor McGiverin asked if anyone had been using the garage prior to him purchasing it.

Dominguez stated that the sellers flipped the house on the corner and had been using the garage for cold storage. Stated that they planned to build a house there, determined they could not, and sold the garage to him.

Councilor McGiverin asked if before the precious owners, had anyone been using it.

Dominguez stated there had not been, adding that the former owner was John Hebert. Reiterated that the garage was in bad shape.

Chairman Bartley looked up the house on a map, noting it was roughly 150 feet from his house to the garage. Clarified that the zone is R1A and assessed at 0.25 acres. Stated that it was a public hearing and invited Dominguez to offer any other details before opening discussion to the public.

No members of the public and no department heads asked to be recognized.

Councilor Tallman suggested passing the special permit pending a communication from the Building Department, as well as a condition stating that there would be no excessive lighting.

Chairman Bartley expressed support for the condition on the lights, adding that the Building Commissioner could answer a question without the need for a condition. Clarified for Dominguez the process for adding a condition, stating that the condition would be that the lighting would not materially affect the abutters.

Dominguez expressed no issue with the condition, adding that he would seek the appropriate permits for any changes he may make to the property.

Chairman Bartley stated that the vote would be a recommendation, which would be followed by a vote of the City Council the following Tuesday.

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

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the special permit, with the condition that the lighting would not materially affect the abutters. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

(16:35)

Councilor Tallman made a motion take item 3 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 3: 3-2-21 MCGEE -- Ordered, that the DGR Committee invite in Jim Welch and the CEO of Mira Vista to discuss the Providence Hospital.

---> Recommended that the order has been complied with 4-0

Chairman Bartley recognized that Jim Welch and MiraVista’s CEO were attendance, noting that Welch is a former State Senator. Asked if McGee as the maker of the order was in attendance.

Councilor Murphy noted that Councilor McGee was running the School Committee meeting.

Chairman Bartley asked Welch to describe the process and plan.

Welch stated that the facility would be a behavioral health center occupying the former Providence Hospital. Recognized Dr. Michael Krupa, CEO of Health Partners New England, the parent company for MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. Stated that Dr. Krupa had been interested in the opportunity to discuss the project and answer any questions related to it.

Dr. Krupa stated he is a clinical psychologist and had been managing departments of psychiatry for 35-40 years. Stated he had managed service through Health Partner New England for three years. Observed that the facility had discontinued inpatient psychiatric services in the past year, while continuing substance abuse services, adding that his organization would take over those services as of April 21st. Stated their intent was to restart the availability of psychiatric beds, noting there is a shortage of such beds in the region. Stated that the lack of beds, many wait in emergency rooms for many days. Stated that he had been approached by the Commonwealth and Trinity about purchasing the facility, adding that they would reimburse some of the capital costs and offering enhanced rates. Observed that they closed on the building in February, with the work underway to get all that is necessary to get the facility running. Also stated that there would be over 200 jobs created, possibly approaching 300, depending on the number of beds created, adding that the facility would be added to the tax rolls of the City.

Councilor Tallman asked if there was an estimate of the number of adolescent and elderly beds.

Krupa stated that a part of their commitment with the state included at least 12 such beds, with the possibility of going to 24 beds. Noted that Baystate also planned to start 12 beds. Stated that he was in discussions with them to mirror their plans. Observed that there is a shortage of providers, noting that fewer than 1 in 30 providers is a child psychiatrist. Stated that regarding beds for the elderly, the former Providence had 16 and that they were considering the same. Observed that Holyoke Hospital had a plan to build a unit for older adults which may serve the needs of the community.

Councilor Tallman asked if in the hiring process, there would be different qualifications.

Krupa stated they planned to hire doctors, advanced practice nurses (APRN’s), and licensed practical nurses (LPN’s), social workers, as well as support staff such as kitchen staff and environmental operations.

Councilor Tallman asked if they planned to look to locals for hiring.

Krupa stated that they had received many applications. Stated that hospitals tend to staff from their local communities. Stated that the need for services may bring in referrals form across the state, the staff would be local.

Councilor Greaney asked about security force.

Krupa stated that at least two current officers had been given offers, adding that there would be security in the building.

Councilor Greaney asked if they would have outpatient services.

Krupa stated that an additional purchase they made, the Katherine Horan building, their hope was to offer leased space to community providers for outpatient services, in addition to the outpatient services they would be providing.

Councilor McGiverin asked about the plan for the existing drivers alcohol education program, detox unit, CSS (community support services) unit, and methadone clinic.

Krupa stated that all services would continue, adding that the ambulatory services would have no interruption while the others may have a temporary disruption to allow the current admissions to draw down so that new admissions could be entered in the new system.

Councilor McGiverin noted he works as a probation officer and was familiar with the services.

Councilor Murphy noted that the loss of adolescent beds had been a major concern with the closing of Providence. Asked if 12 beds was enough, or if that was due to the limited number of doctors available.

Krupa stated that 12 was definitely not enough, noting that waiting in emergency rooms adds to the troubles. Observed that many had to go across state lines or be referred to facilities in the eastern part of the state. Reiterated that the limitation of providers was the main issue. Noted that need goes down I the summer, adding to financial challenges of maintaining services. Expressed expectation that the result of the pandemic will increase the need for services.

Councilor Murphy noted hearing it could go to 24, asked if 12 was full consistently, what would the alternative be for those who come in with no beds available.

Krupa stated definitively that they would be full most of the time, noting that people would wait in emergency rooms or be diverted to care out of the area. Stated that Massachusetts could sometimes offer dispensation to place 15 or 16-year-olds in adult units, noting it would not be ideal. Reiterated that there would soon be 24 new beds available in the area between them and Baystate.

Councilor Murphy asked if the rooms would be private.

Krupa stated they would be a combination of singles and doubles, noting that an existing facility has to be used as it is already designed. Observed that it is usually not an issue until the last few beds are being filled due to gender matching. Noted that Covid has complicated this a little, adding that all are tested before they are admitted.

Councilor Murphy asked if it was typical length of stay, and the percentage of recidivism.

Krupa stated that the average stay was around 10-12 days for adolescents, adding that the average for detox is around 4 days, and adults are around 7 days. Stated that behavioral health sees very high rates of recidivism, noting that they are almost always avoidable noting the importance of follow up and maintain medication. Also stated that with outpatient care available, that percentage can be reduced. Noted that there are many social determinants that can impact the percentage.

Councilor Murphy asked for consideration in using as many former employees of Providence as possible, noting that Trinity had tried to find opportunities for these employees.

Krupa stated that they had agreed to hold job fairs for employees not offered positions in their other facilities.

Councilor Greaney noting that many residents are dependent upon insurance, asked if the facility will accept Medicare and Medicaid.

Krupa recognized that there is an impression that private facilities don’t take those insurance options, stated that they are there to serve the community. Reiterated that the Commonwealth and MassHealth had provided financial support to get them started. Also noted that their members would be offered enhanced rates. Stated that their payer mix would mirror that of Providence. Added that many of their providers have loan forgiveness program tied to care in their treatment programs.

Councilor Sullivan asked if the facility is for-profit.

Krupa clarified that TeraVista and Miravista are both for-profit.

Councilor Sullivan asked if they would be paying commercial real estate taxes.

Krupa confirmed they would be.

Chairman Bartley asked for a number of non-senior adult beds.

Krupa stated the original license was for 74 psychiatric beds, adding that 12 would be for children and they may offer 16 geriatric beds depending on community need.

Chairman Bartley expressed appreciation in hearing about the cooperation with Baystate, noting that there had been an attempt in the City Council at a resolution to criticize Baystate.

Krupa recalled that in the early days of the Covid pandemic, a coalition of regional providers was put together and had met every Saturday, noting Baystate had been a key part of that. Also stated they had been among the most transparent among providers in their response to the pandemic.

Chairman Bartley noted that in the discussing the resolution, there had been residents who expressed concern with the consolidation of care. Encouraged Krupa to reach out to the City Council for additional opportunities to offer updates on the project.

Councilor Tallman made a motion that the order had been complied with. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(56:50)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take items 4a and 4b as a package. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 4a: 10-6-20 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.
*Tabled 2-22-21

---> Recommended that the order be adopted. 3-1

Chairman Bartley recalled that the item had been tabled during the February meeting.

Councilor Tallman asked for a clarification that the Holyoke portion of the property in question is owned by West Springfield, and that the conservation restriction was to assure that the Bear Hole area could not be developed.

Atty Kate O’Brien confirmed that it was.

Councilor Tallman asked for confirmation that West Springfield would be getting close to $1 million.

Atty O’Brien stated that $700K was coming from the state as well as $300K from Mass Audubon.

Councilor Tallman asked if the basic meaning for Holyoke was having conservation area within the reservoir area.

Atty O’Brien stated they were looking for Holyoke to approve the conservation restriction as being in the public interest, noting that if they were a private land owner entering into this transaction, it would be the same thing.

Councilor Tallman asked about the amount of land in Holyoke compared to the total.

Atty O’Brien stated it was about 10% of the total, roughly 150 acres of a 1,500 acres property.

Chairman Bartley recognized Kate O’Brien as the attorney for West Springfield, Bob Wilber was with the Mass Audubon Society, as well as Jenifer Howard and Jen Soper from DCR. Recalled that in the last meeting, there was an interest in hearing an opinion from Holyoke Atty Barnes on the matter.

Barnes stated that in speaking with attorneys for West Springfield and DCR, it was her opinion that the financial benefit would go to West Springfield as the land owner.

Chairman Bartley asked what the opinion is based on

Atty Barnes stated that it is pursuant to state laws, noting it would fall under chapter 184, sections 31, 32, and 33.

Chairman Bartley clarified that the Town of West Springfield, as the property owner, would be the beneficiary.

Atty Barnes confirmed he was correct.

Councilor Sullivan noted that with the owner benefitting $1 million which would require Holyoke’s approval, asked why Holyoke was being left out with 10% of the land in Holyoke.

O’Brien stated that it was West Springfield that was selling the rights to the land as the owner for many years.

Councilor Sullivan noted that they need Holyoke’s blessing to get the funds.

O’Brien stated that they needed Holyoke’s blessing that it was in the public interest, adding that transactions like these are approved all the time by municipality. Stated that Holyoke doesn’t have rights to the land.

Councilor Sullivan stated that with private land owners, property taxes would normally have been paid and that West Springfield has been exempt from paying taxes. Stated that a public benefit also includes financial interest and the welfare of Holyoke.

O’Brien stated that there didn’t appear to be a financial detriment to Holyoke, noting that the city wouldn’t be losing any taxes that had been paid.

Councilor Sullivan stated that the restriction would eliminate any potential for future use or development from someone who could pay taxes.

O’Brien stated that any future benefit would have been unlikely as it had been purchased for water supply purposes, noting any other use would have required two-thirds approval from the state legislature,

Councilor Sullivan asked if anyone had approached the West Springfield about providing some financial benefit to Holyoke.

O’Brien stated that he had not been asked.

Councilor Murphy expressed agreement with Councilor Sullivan’s concern, noting that there could an opportunity for cooperation between cities. Suggested speaking with the West Springfield mayor to create an agreement for providing a portion to Holyoke.

Councilor McGiverin stated that looking out for the public interest was the right thing to do, noting that Holyoke has similar circumstances with other communities with watersheds and protected lands. Observed that West Springfield owns the land and has the right to offer it to DCR.

Councilor Greaney reiterated that the public interest of Holyoke could mean the mayor of West Springfield speaking with Holyoke about potentially offering financial remuneration.

Councilor Tallman stated that the issue was not just about the money, noting that the law departments of both communities confirmed that the land belongs to West Springfield. Stated that any time land can be preserved for future generations is a good thing. Stated that while Holyoke would enjoy some of the funds, questioned if it would be appropriate to ask West Springfield for funds that are rightfully theirs.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the rules to allow non-committee members to speak. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor Sullivan noted that while Holyoke owns land in other communities, the city hadn’t placed conservation restrictions on those properties. Suggested that comparisons were not fair. Stated a desire to hear from the mayor of West Springfield.

Councilor Sullivan made a motion to table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion.

Chairman Bartley stated the mayor of West Springfield sent a letter, without an offer for financial benefit. Encouraged DCR and/or the Audubon Society to weigh in.

Bob Wilber stated that while he respected the fiscal pressures involved, the legal opinions of each city’s legal counsel had been correct. Stated that conservation restrictions funds go to the owner of the land. Noted that DCR and Audubon worked with West Springfield for many years and had been an arduous process. Stated that the placement of consecration restriction would provide valuable services in the form of protections of the existing water supply at no cost to the city in perpetuity. Noted that Mas Audobon had partnered with schools in Holyoke to provide educational opportunities, field trips, plans for roll outs to all schools programs in the city. Noted a plan for a full in person school program in the coming fall for a long term commitment.

Howard stated that the Bear Hole land is unique, and that there is benefit to both communities in protecting it. Noted that in Holyoke’s efforts to protect Whiting Street Reservoir, they could discuss the potential of a similar protection of that land and potential compensation.

Chairman Bartley asked if there was any precedent for what has been presented, specifically with one town sharing funds with the town they own land in.

Howard stated that she had not seen that in the past when the town doesn’t own the land.

Wilber stated he had been working in land conservation for 38 years and had not seen that.

Chairman Bartley observed that Sue Ellen Panitch from the Whiting Reservoir Study Committee was in attendance to discuss updates on their committee’s work. Noted that the West Springfield mayor likely hadn’t received a request from Holyoke mayor to seek a portion of the funds. Suggested that state law may bar splitting the funds. Also noted the value of the conservation restriction.

Councilor Tallman noted the value of the educational work Mass Audubon had undertaken with Holyoke schools. Recalled the personal benefit of experience such as field trips to area reservoirs. Emphasized the impact of future generations in decided to protect reservoirs and watersheds. Expressed a need to proceed with voting to approve the restriction.

Councilor Sullivan expressed support for programs and protection, adding his desire was to table in order to have the opportunity to ask West Springfield’s mayor if the town would offer to share some of the funds they were receiving. Questioned the value of letting it go without asking.

Chairman Bartley stated that the mayor could be asked.

Councilor Greaney noted that the Audubon Society offers educational programs to many surrounding communities. Stated that the issue on hand is different, noting it is about whether or not West Springfield will share the financial benefit.

Councilor Tallman questioned the sentiment that the Holyoke mayor had not spoken with the West Springfield mayor about the funds. Suggested that the legal department could have been in contact with Mayor Reichelt.

Councilor Murphy suggested that the committee recommend to the full City Council under the condition that the mayor be contacted prior to that meeting.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to contact the Mayor of West Springfield on the question. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor Sullivan asked for a clarification on the motion, if the Acting Mayor would be the one contacting West Springfield.

Chairman Bartley stated that the committee could send the communication.

Councilor Sullivan stated that if there was not a response, the full City Council could vote.

Councilor Tallman asked if the vote would be to recommend out of committee.

Chairman Bartley clarified that the first vote was to send a communication to West Springfield, adding that the next motion would be to send out of committee.

Councilor Tallman asked if the vote would be to approve the conservation restriction.

Chairman Bartley suggested a vote to comply with, with a plan for the full City Council to vote on approval.

Councilor Tallman asked for clarification on what DCR needed.

Chairman Bartley stated they could vote to approve the transfer. Noted that the order came with a Certificate of Announcement, and asked if that was the vote DCR needed.

Howard stated there were two separate items, noting that there had been a letter of intent sent in August fulfilling the general notice requirement. Stated that another requirement was to discuss the intent at a public hearing, adding that this was fulfilled with the matter was discussed at the previous committee meeting. Stated that they were asking for the certificate to be filled out and returned to DCR. Stated that the City Council would be voting to declare that the conservation restriction was in the public interest.

Chairman Bartley asked the Admin Asst if the meeting had been set as a public hearing.

Admin Anderson-Burgos stated it was not a public hearing, adding that his understanding was that the requirement was that the announcement was discussed at a meeting open to the public.

Howard stated there was nothing to be done about the letter of intent, and that the certificate of announcement was the necessary next requirement.

Chairman Bartley read the Certificate of Announcement:
“I, _____________________________, Chair of the __________________________________ of the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts, do hereby certify that on _______________________, 2021, it was announced at a public meeting in the City of Holyoke that: The Department of Conservation and Recreation may acquire a conservation restriction on parcels of land located in the Town of West Springfield and the City of Holyoke as shown on the attached locus map marked as “Exhibit A” for conservation and/or recreation purposes.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to recommend adoption of the certificate of announcement. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion.

 

Item 4b: 3-2-21 Letter from Mayor William C. Reichelt of Town of West Springfield regarding Town of West Springfield Conservation Restriction.

---> Received.

 

(1:43:20)

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

Item 5: Whiting Street Reservoir Committee – Discussion of minutes: 12-17-20, 1-5-21, 1-19-21, 2-2-21, 2-16-21, 3-2-21

---> Recommended that the order has been complied with. 4-0

Chairman Bartley recognized Sue Ellen Panitch, Chair of the Whiting Reservoir Study Committee. Recalled attending a recent meeting, noting there had been a fascinating discussion with Fish and Wildlife as well as the National Parks Service. Recalled the effort of Councilor Sullivan to create an ordinance to study use of the reservoir.

Panitch stated she was appointed by the former mayor the day after the committee was formed. Recognized Marlene Connor who serves as Vice chair, as well as Jeff Horan, a member of the Conservation Commission and works for the National Department of Wildlife and Fishery. Stated they have discussed laws regarding reservoirs with the Water Department and with the City Solicitor. Also noted they looked at neighboring lands, and had plans to speak with abutters. Stated that they would plan to set up public hearings in the coming months. Noted that Holyoke is both land-rich as well as power-rich and water-rich, adding that the need to protect that. Observed that there are things neighbors would like to see as well as some concerns that had been expressed in their discussions.

Councilor Greaney expressed appreciation for the detailed minutes, noting it had been interesting to learn of all of those who are abutters and interested in the project. Added that he was struck by a dam in disrepair, adding that he would hope there could be funding. Asked for further explanation.

Panitch stated that the major difficulty and most expensive issue is the sluiceway, adding that it empties on the southwest end of the reservoir and flows under Route 5 into the Connecticut River.

Councilor Greaney asked if there are federal funds available for such a project, and who should be contacted.

Panitch stated her understanding was that looking for funding was not a charge of the committee. Stated that funds could be available through a pending infrastructure bill with the federal government.

Chairman Bartley noted that in the scope and purpose of the committee, one section stated: “Study and recommendations should include but are not limited to revenue producing ventures such as zip lining, water bottling, selective development, camping, food service and other opportunities.” Stated that the framers of the order contemplated that the committee would look into possible revenue producing matters. Noted that during the previous discussion, Jennifer Howard from the DCR suggested a conservation restriction as a possibility. Suggested that idea could be considered.

Panitch stated that the suggestion to mean profit-making things that could be done on the reservoir. Noted that Howard discussed a conservation easement on the reservoir, adding that it would likely be on the list of recommendations. Stated that they did not think we were in position of looking for government grants or agency grants, adding that the Lower Pioneer Valley Planning Commission was willing to do research for the committee.

Chairman Bartley noted that the committee’s job hadn’t been to go looking for grants, adding that they could come up as they took notes. Recalled at the last meeting, there had been the potential financial benefitr to the city discussion.

Panitch stared there would be major costs to the city, noting issues with policing issues such fires, vandalism, drag racing, etc. Suggested getting abutters together to work for and plan activities. Noted that the information that had been gathered so far had been fascinating.

Chairman Bartley asked to hear additional feedback from Mr. Horan and Miss Connor.

Horan stated that many abutters noted it had been helpful when the city played a role in bringing people together to consider how the area should be used. Added that in looking at potential, the benefits could be great the resources are great, but needs to be thought out to be beneficial. Recalled that Save Conti from the Water Department suggested that the resources should be there to handle the reservoir project, adding that follow up on funding could have been done. Observed the need for asking additional questions.

Councilor Tallman commended the work of the committee in putting together the information. Expressed interest in the possibility of a conservation restriction. Recalled previous discussion on addressing the spillway could have a $2 million cost to the city. Emphasized how much o a gem the reservoir is to the city.

Councilor McGiverin noted the potential liability if the spillway was to breach, adding that one less desirable solution would be to lower the reservoir. Noted that water distribution pressure are high priorities, but the Water Department had a plan to address it.

Chairman Bartley suggested that there would be future meetings with the committee, likely to reconvene after the summer following some additional work on the part of the committee.

Councilor Tallman made a motion that the order has been complied with. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(2:07:10)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to take item 6 ff the table, Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 6: 3-16-21 Community Development on Behalf of Housing Authority: Notice of Finding No Significant Impact and Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds - Jackson Street Homes and Parking Lot 480-482 Chestnut St

Zoeller stated that the notice had been sent by her office, noting that when someone uses federal funding for projects, there must be an environmental review, which had been done on behalf of the Holyoke Housing Authority. Stated that no action was necessary, and that it was for informational purposes.

Councilor Murphy asked for a clarification that the item was for homes being build by Habitat for Humanity and the Holyoke Housing Authority.

Zoeller stated that was correct, adding it would be three single family houses and a parking lot.

Councilor Murphy stated he had been under the impressions that some would have a Jackson Street address looking at the park.

Zoeller offered to send a site plan that was used for the environmental assessment.

Chairman Bartley stated his intent for putting it on the agenda was that there appeared to be an interest.

Councilor Murphy stated that he believed they may have wanted to discuss it I committee. Stated intent to file an order to being in Holyoke Housing Authority.

Chairman Bartley asked if it was the lot where there had been a proposal for a middle school.

Councilor Murphy clarified that it was not, adding it was on the corner of Jackson and Chestnut. Stated that one thought was that with homes looking at the park, it would provide additional reason to prevent issues at the park.

Councilor Tallman made a motion that the item had been received. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

---> Received 4-0

 

(2:13:00)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to take item 7 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 7: 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, 2-22-21

Chairman Bartley noted that a communication had been received from Zoeller, read into the record:
“It is my understanding that the DGR Committee will be discussing possible redistricting due to the Census results. Below please find additional information on the timing for release of redistricting data.  The Census Bureau expects redistricting information to go to states for September 30, 2021 and suggests reaching out to the MA Secretary of State for additional information. I have attended one brief meeting on the status of Census programs and do not have any additional information at this time.”
Noted that additional information from Adriane Queiroz from the New York Regional Census Center shows a plan to deliver redistricting data to states and local in September.

Zoeller stated she met with Adriane as CDBG and Home funds rely heavily on census data, adding they have been closely watching results. Also noted the data is used to determine neighborhoods that are eligible for certain funds due to income constraints. Noted she planned to assist the community in accessing the data from the census. Stated the assumption that the City Council would want to meet to talk about the census data and data tools. Noted that several links offered a great deal of information.

Councilor McGiverin asked if there had been a deadline, noting that there had been delays in the census. Asked if the government was allowing a delay.

Zoeller stated she had not expected a change for at least two more CDBG funding cycles, adding the length of time needed to provide the data. Stated that in discussions, much of the delay was Covid driven, with some minor impact from political maneuvering.

Councilor McGiverin asked if there was preliminary data for redrawing the ward lines.

Vega stated that some data had been provided, adding that it wouldn’t be enough to go forward on redistricting. Stated that it would be unlikely it could be used for the next election.

Councilor McGiverin noted the importance of everyone who lives in Holyoke, the census is important. Asked if there was anything that may stick out with the preliminary that could be presented.

Vega stated it was likely a matter of waiting but could get something available before the summer break.

Councilor McGiverin suggested that September might be the best opportunity to revisit the matter.

Chairman Bartley suggested having the department heads send communications to the City Clerk so that information would be a part of the public record. Noted having received information that day on the matter.

Admin Asst stated that the data had been provided to the full Council the previous week.

Councilor Tallman asked if there was a timeline for block grant funding.

Zoeller asked when the next DGR meeting would be.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take item 12 out of order. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion All members voted in favor.

Item 12: Schedule next meeting. Potential dates: 4/26, 5/24, 6/14

Chairman Bartley read the next potential dates, noting that the next meeting was planned for April 26th which would be followed by City Council approval on May 4th. Asked if that date would work.

Zoeller stated that the submission to HUD needed to be in on May 5th, adding that the typical timeline includes the mayor reviewing the submission which needed to be done by April 23rd.

Chairman Bartley suggested that approval o May 4th may be sufficient, but stated he would be open to moving the April 26th meeting to an earlier date.

Councilor Tallman suggested April 14th.

Chairman Bartley confirmed with committee members and Zoeller that April 14th would work.

Zoeller asked when the full Council would take up any items from April 14th.

Chairman Bartley confirmed it would be April 20th.

Zoeller stated that would work and expressed appreciation for working with her.

Councilor Sullivan asked who the Council rep is on the CDBG Committee.

Zoeller expressed that she believed it was Councilor Sullivan.

Chairman Bartley asked when the Citizens Advisory Committee would be meeting. \

Zoeller stated they had already met, adding that they extended their recommendations. Stated they could meet again, if necessary.

Councilor Sullivan stated he had not been the Council rep for over a year.

---> Next meeting scheduled for April 14th.

Chairman Bartley suggested that the item be tabled until the Fall.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to table item 7. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

---> Tabled 4-0

 

(2:31:25)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take items 8-11 as a package and remove from the table. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 8: 12-1-20 BARTLEY -- That the Honorable City Council, in accordance with M.G.L. ch. 30B and the Holyoke Procurement Ordinance, vote to accept an offer of $6,000 from Gregory M. Virgilio to purchase and 416 Appleton Street which is a vacant lot approximately 2,526 square feet in size.  The property is identified in the Holyoke Assessor’s records as Map 061, Block 02,

---> Recommended that the order be adopted. 4-0

Vega stated that the an abutter had an interest in the property, adding that making it surplus would move it to the next step of site plan review to assure it was in accordance with regulations on zoning and a benefit for the area and the purchaser for his property at 185 Pine St. Stated the value is a little over-assessed.

Chairman Bartley stated that the city handled its steps with the state legislature, receiving the necessary approvals, allowing the city to handle it as it wishes.

John Dyjach stated that the Article 97 designation was handled, putting it out to bid, notifying abutters, and publicizing it. Observed that Mr. Virgilio had done great things with his 185 Pine St property. Stated that the proposal had been provided to the committee through the Admin Asst.

Councilor Tallman expressed appreciation for improvement to 185 Pine St. Asked what the plans for 416 Appleton St, noting that the lot is pretty small.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to allow Mr. Virgilio to address the committee. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Virgilio stated his plan was to create a parking area for the tenants in his building, noting it would hold 7 spaces when fully developed. Stated that the building needs the spaces to be able to market off street parking. Stated that in the neighborhood, there have been concerned neighbors about parking on the street. Recalled that the lot had been up for auction, but the city later learned of legal issues preventing it from being sold at auction. Reiterated that the building needs parking for renting to tenants.

Barley asked how Virgilio acquired the property.

Dyjach stated that it had been out for bid through a public sale.

Chairman Bartley asked if there were other bidders.

Dyjach stated that Virgilio had been the only one.

Chairman Bartley asked for clarification of the overvalued assessment.

Vega stated that the assessed value was $4,600, adding that it was last sold for $4,500 in 2008.

Chairman Bartley asked how the city acquired the property,

Dyjach stated that it has been taken through tax title 10-15 years prior.

Chairman Bartley asked for the timetable of the development.

Virgilio stated he planned to lay asphalt on the property as well as the alleyway the following summer, noting that there were garages he also planned to utilize. Noted he had additional committees to work with.

Chairman Bartley asked why it needed to go to site plan review.

Dyjach stated that it may not be site plan review, but that there were potentially questions to address regarding stormwater.

Vega clarified that it would be permit review, as opposed to site plan review.

Chairman Bartley expressed concern when the city sells property only for nothing to happen. Stated a desire to have a timetable or reverter clause to assure development happens on the property.

Councilor Murphy asked if the plan is for the ten unit building.

Virgilio confirmed that it was.

Councilor Murphy asked when he expected to be able to have tenants.

Virgilio stated his plan with the Building Department stated that he could have it occupied by 2025, noting it had been a ten yea plan from 2016. Stated that he has plans for final electric and plumbing inspections. Noted that it was a cash project, adding that it was going slowly but according to the plan. Stated that the point was to market to people who can afford upscale units into the downtown area.

Councilor Murphy observed having seen substantial improvement on the outside.

Virgilio extended an invitation to visit the property.

Councilor Murphy expressed appreciation that Virgilio had anticipated the parking issues if the tenants were parking on the street.

Chairman Bartley asked where the cars would enter and exit from the lot.

Virgilio stated it would be off of Appleton Street.

Councilor McGiverin stated that there should be standard reverter language on any sale of property., adding that the reason is to prevent people form speculating and selling land for higher prices.

Dyjach stated that it had been the property that triggered a reverter, noting that the city sold it for a ow dollar amount 12 years ago, noting that the previous owner sold it for 10 times what the city sold it for and nothing had happened leading to deterioration of the building.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to accept the offer. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Chairman Bartley asked if the sale was to Virgilio personally or to a company.

Virgilio stated he wrote a personal check, adding that 185 Pine St is a trust and that the new property would be added to the trust.

 

(2:50:05)

Item 9: 1-19-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 30B and the Holyoke Code of Ordinances procurement ordinance, declare 60 Hamilton Street(Assessors Map 028, Block 04, Parcel 016) as surplus property available for disposition. Said parcel is identified by the Holyoke. The property is approximately 5,749 square feet in size, zoned Highway Business and has an assessed value of $23,000.

---> Recommended that the order be adopted. 4-0

 

Item 10: 1-19-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s urban renewal plan entitled, “Connect. Construct. Create. - A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke” which was approved by the Holyoke City Council on December 4, 2012 and as amended on December 15, 2020, vote to approve the transfer of 60 Hamilton Street (Assessors Map 028, Block 04, Parcel 016) to the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority for consideration of $1.00.  Said parcel is approximately 5,749 square feet in size, Highway Business and has an assessed value of $23,000.

---> Recommended that the order be adopted. 4-0

Item 11: 1-19-21 BARTLEY -- Ordered, that the Honorable City Council, in accordance with the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority’s urban renewal plan entitled, “Connect. Construct. Create. - A Plan for the Revitalization of Center City Holyoke” which was approved by the Holyoke City Council on December 4, 2012 and as amended on December 15, 2020, vote to approve the transfer of 55 Hamilton Street (Assessors Map 028, Block 03, Parcel 006) to the Holyoke Redevelopment Authority for consideration of $1.00. Said parcel is approximately 3,485 square feet in size, zoned Downtown Residential, has an assessed value of $31,500 and was declared surplus property on June 26, 2018.

---> Recommended that the order be adopted. 4-0

Chairman Bartley noted that items 9 and 10 go together.

Vega stated that the orders pertain to the second and third phases of the South Holyoke Homes Project, adding that they are also tied to the renewal plan.

Chairman Bartley noted that a property would typically be declared surplus followed by a bidder being identified later.

Vega stated that this property was already in the pipeline and that it is part of the Urban Renewal Plan, adding that because it is part of the project, it would not be going out to bid.

Councilor Murphy asked if 60 Hamilton is a parking lot.

Vega confirmed it was.

Councilor Murphy asked if 55 Hamilton is on the corner of Clemente.

Vega confirmed it was.

Councilor Murphy noted that the Greek Orthodox Church owns a property on the even side of Clemente and Hamilton, adding that the city owns a parking lot, and there is a vacant lot that used to be an apartment building. Stated that one goal would be to work with the Church to have them deed property on Clemente and Hamilton which would allow for the building of another 2-3 hones and finalize the revitalization of Hamilton on Clemente Street. Suggested that without that, there would remain a vacant lot. Suggested a permit could be provided for parking on Sunday as part of the arrangement for transferring the property.

Vega stated that they would be working with the church and planning to do a swap so that they would receive the city parking lot that they already use. Stated that the plan was a part of phase 2, adding it would result in 4 units of home ownership. Stated they had a plan to present design plans to the church in the next few weeks.

Councilor Murphy noted that he received pushback when he brough tup the idea of swapping parking lots. Asked if 55 Hamilton could become a parking replacement for the residents of the area.

Vega stated that the Housing Authority was aware of parking needs in the area, adding that he could not comment on the design. Stated the hope was to have designated parking for the new units to prevent additional strain on street parking.

Councilor Murphy emphasized the project was an important part of revitalizing the area.

Councilor Tallman asked if the 60 Hamilton would continue to be utilized by the church.

Vega clarified that it would become the church’s property.

Councilor Tallman asked if there had been talk about a lot behind Nueva Esperanza becoming parking.

Councilor Murphy stated it had come up in discussion, adding that it was owned by the property on the other side and had not been in use. Stated there was potential of the city taking it to create additional parking, especially with the need for more off street parking with continued growth.

Councilor Tallman noted that the order states “in consideration for $1.00,” asking if the property was going to be made available as surplus.

Vega stated that both properties were designated for the Housing Authority for the South Holyoke Homes Project in accordance with the Urban Renewal Plan.

Councilor Tallman reiterated that in the past, properties would be designated as surplus one month and sold the following month. Asked if they were selling on the same evening because of a time frame.

Vega stated that if there had been decisions to make, he would advocate for moving quicker on 60 Hamilton Street, noting there were design plans underway.

Dyjach stated that 55 Hamilton had been declared surplus at a prior meeting. Stated that the Redevelopment Authority would not sell right away, noting there was a process to work through first. Stated it could not be done the previous year because it had not been in the plan to acquire the properties. Noted that in the past, when properties were declared surplus, the plan for the properties had not been known at the time. Added that the plan is known for these properties.

Chairman Bartley noted that with 9 and 10, a property wouldn’t typically be declared surplus and offered on the same night, adding that this property was a part of the plan.

Councilor Sullivan made a motion to declare 60 Hamilton as surplus and approve the transfer of 55 and 60 Hamilton. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Chairman Bartley reiterated that the next meeting would be on April 14th to handle CDBG appropriations.

Councilor Tallman offered an apology for a heated discussion earlier in the meeting.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to adjourn. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Meeting adjourned at 9:37 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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