For the latest information about  COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Recovery, click here to visit our dedicated page.

Click here to sign up for city emergency alerts - including community event alerts, Fire Department notifications, law enforcement alerts, generation information alerts, and public works notifications

Development & Governmental Relations Committee Meeting May 24, 2021

May 24 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 Wednesday 5-24-21 at 6:30 PM

Per order of the Chair: David Bartley

 

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

Meeting ID: 890 0162 0186 Meeting Passcode: 801328 or by call in at 1 (646) 558-8656 with same Meeting ID and Passcode.  ***

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89001620186?pwd=dkh3NjAyU1lCRE5DQTU1enRidE5vQT09

 

Agenda:

Item 1: Minutes from the last meeting.

Item 2: 5-18-21 FFY2021 Spreadsheet, Community Development Block Grant.

Item 3: 5-18-21 Public Notice Community Development Block Grant COVID-19.

Item 4: 5-18-21 SULLIVAN, BARTLEY, GREANEY, JR -- Ordered, that The City of Holyoke, through its Honorable City Council and Honorable Mayor hereby petition the Massachusetts General Court to enact Legislation to establish a process for recalling elected officials in the City of Holyoke, and that said Legislation be entitled:
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE RECALL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE CITY OF HOLYOKE and that said act read as follows see attached:

Item 5: 10-1-19 SULLIVAN -- That the law department send out demand letters to the insurance company under provisions of both G.L. c 93A Ma Consumer Protection Act and G.L. c 176D, the Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair and Deceptive Acts in the business of Insurance. Send to Dev. & Gov. Rel

Item 6: Schedule next meeting: 6-14-21

 

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. Posted agenda subject to change up to two business day (48 hours) prior to posted meeting time.

An-Act-Provding-for-the-Recall-of-Elected-Officials-in-the-City-of-Holyoke.pdf
May 20, 2021
  • PDF

Download

DGR Committee Meeting

May 24, 2021

 

Members present: Chairman David Bartley, Vice Chairman Michael Sullivan, Peter Tallman, Howard Greaney Jr

Other councilors present: Linda Vacon, Terry Murphy, Joe McGiverin

Chairman Bartley called the meet to order at 6:32 PM.

 

Councilor Sullivan made a motion to take item 1 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 1: Minutes from the last meeting.

---> Accepted 4-0

Chairman Bartley stated there had been minutes from the February, Match, and April meetings. Stated they had been comprehensive, adding that they are for historical purposes and the minutes would provide a nice reference.

Councilor Greaney commended the Admin Asst on the minutes, noting they had been thorough and professional.

Councilor Tallman made motion to accept minutes. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion.

 

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take item 5 off the table. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 5: 10-1-19 SULLIVAN -- That the law department send out demand letters to the insurance company under provisions of both G.L. c 93A Ma Consumer Protection Act and G.L. c 176D, the Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair and Deceptive Acts in the business of Insurance. Send to Dev. & Gov. Rel.

---> Complied with 4-0

DISCUSSION:

Chairman Bartley stated that he spoke with Atty Lisa Ball to seek her guidance. Stated that the item was regarding the Essex Building.

Atty Ball stated it was being handled by outside counsel, Chuck Emma. Stated that in his update, he stated it was in active litigation, adding that any updates should be done in executive session. Suggested scheduling a time to update the Council on that matter, and any other matters.

Councilor Sullivan observed he had been told that negotiations were in progress and that filing letters would “upset things,” adding that in an additional update, he was told that they were close to an agreement, Stated that after bringing it up a third time, he was told a letter was sent. Asked for clarification if a letter was sent.

Atty Ball stated a letter was sent. Stated that it was not viewed as a 93A claim, but a negligence claim. Stated she received a full summary and would be prepared to address the full Council on it. Reiterated that the matter was in active litigation and could not be discussed at the time.

Councilor Sullivan stated understanding that it was a negligence claim. Suggested that a tactic of the insurance company would be drag their feet. Questioned being told it would be a burden to send a letter.

Atty Ball suggested it would not just be a letter, adding that there was more to it. Stated it would make more sense when she could explain more.

Councilor Sullivan stated he understood, adding that the notices needed to be sent out to start the clock on triple damages, legal expenses and interest, forcing them to settle.

Atty Ball stated it would be difficult to determine if the case would settle. Noted she had been with the department for two weeks and was still getting acquainted with the history.

Chairman Bartley stated he had received a summary, reiterated it would need to be discussed in executive session. Recommended having the order complied with, noting it would help the agenda for an executive session.

Councilor Sullivan stated that his original request to have demand letters sent out had been satisfied.

Councilor Tallman suggested that with the end of the fiscal year coming, it would be important to have legal update on pending cases.

Chairman Bartley noted the dates of City Council meetings in June, adding that it may be appropriate to plan an executive session prior to the meeting on the 1st or 15th.

Councilor Tallman made a motion that order had been complied with. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion.

Chairman Bartley stated he would work with the City Council President to hold an executive session to discuss pending litigations.

 

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

Item 4: 5-18-21 SULLIVAN, BARTLEY, GREANEY, JR -- Ordered, that The City of Holyoke, through its Honorable City Council and Honorable Mayor hereby petition the Massachusetts General Court to enact Legislation to establish a process for recalling elected officials in the City of Holyoke, and that said Legislation be entitled:
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE RECALL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE CITY OF HOLYOKE and that said act read as follows see attached:

---> Approved 4-0

DISCUSSION:

Chairman Bartley asked Councilor Sullivan for perspective on what the order would and wouldn’t do.

Councilor Sullivan stated with the extension of some elected positions to four year, there had not been a mechanism for recall. Stated it would allow for a recall for reasons. Recalled it had been passed twice by the City Council. Stated it sets a high bar, noting it would require 250 signatures to get a recall on the ballot, adding that there are protections in place to prevent a recall from being used as a weapon against a city official.

Chairman Bartley recalled it had been read twice into the record. Noted the order would be specific to elected official whose term are four years with more than 12 months remaining in office. Noted there were five elected official with four year terms: Mayor, City Clerk, treasurer, and two at-large School Committee members. Stated that the order suggests placing it on the ballot for 2021, adding that the timeline may be too aggressive.

Councilor Vacon expressed support for the order. Stated it had been crafted when four year terms went into effect, adding that it was understood to be a good government initiative that was pretty common. Suggested the need to move the order to make sure there would be time to put it on the 2021 ballot, assuming meeting of regulatory time limits.

Councilor Tallman suggested checking with the City Clerk on the time to get it on the ballot. Noting he language to put it on the 2021 ballot, asked if it would be another four years before it could be placed on a ballot.

Chairman Bartley made a motion to send a communication to the City Clerk seeking advice on the timeline. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion.

Councilor Greaney noted it had been discussed many times and that it should be moved as son as possible.

Councilor Murphy stated he would be in favor, and that he expected there would be time to get it submitted to the state legislature. Added that he, as Acting Mayor, would sign it. Asked for clarification that there would be recall for a first year in office or the last year in office.

Councilor Sullivan suggested striking the language, “to be held in 2021,” noting that it would help avoid complications if it didn’t make it in time for the 2021 ballot.

Chairman Bartley noted that the next municipal election would be in 2023. Suggested getting an answer from the City Clerk first, and then getting the law department clean the language if necessary.

Councilor Greaney suggested that if the language for the upcoming election remained, it would signify that it was a priority.

Motion to send a communication to the City Clerk passed, 4-0.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the resolution. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion.

 

Councilor Tallman made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take items 2 and 3 as a package. Councilor Greaney seconded the motion. All members coted in favor.

Item 2: 5-18-21 FFY2021 Spreadsheet, Community Development Block Grant.

---> Received 4-0

 

Item 3: 5-18-21 Public Notice Community Development Block Grant COVID-19.

---> Approved 4-0

DISCUSSION:

Chairman Bartley suggested a walkthrough of the prior spreadsheet and an update on the reprogramming.

Councilor Murphy stated that he sought to honor the DGR recommendations, while incorporating Covid money to help reprogram funds. Noted a cut to neighborhood improvement program in order to provide more funds to sanitary sewer and storm drain rehab, noting the concern abo cave-ins. Stated that he was able to add to facade improvement, targeted literacy, alternative for youth, back to school event, homework house. Stated he did not fund meals for seniors because he would be able to offer more through food equity funds for Covid relief. Stated that the same had been done for Margaret’s pantry. Stated that domestic violence funding had been increased, as well for a keep it clean event through OneHolyokeCDC.

Chairman Bartley emphasized that Acting Mayor Councilor Murphy had participated in the process, adding that future mayors should participate in the DGR process.

Councilor Tallman asked if there would be another way for Fair Housing to be helping, noting the legal services had not been funded.

Councilor Murphy stated that they had unused funds, adding that it they expended it and come back for more, they would try to work with them.

Councilor Tallman noted the importance of supporting Womenshelter, emphasizing the extra need for them during the Covid pandemic, and expressing appreciation for increasing the amount to them.

Councilor Greaney stated it had been good to have a CEO in Room 1.

Chairman Bartley noted that the Farmer’s Market manager had been zeroed out before, noting that with the reprogramming, $13,000 had been appropriated.

Murph noted the importance of food equity with Covid, adding that they wanted to put money into as many food programs as they could. Stated that without the funds, there may be no farmer’s market. Noted that he sought more information and suggested they need to work on doing better. Emphasized the service to constituents who need the food access.

Chairman Bartley asked if there was a manager for the farmer market.

Councilor Murphy stated they have one until July, adding that they had advertised for a new one.

Alicia Zoeller stated that the existing manager would be leaving, and that they planned to hire one with overlap for training and a seamless transition. State that the request had been zeroed out in the previous allocation due to turmoil and transition, adding that they received assurances that they had a plan, a location, and new vendors being signed up. Stated that the market was working with the Chamber of Commerce and would be aligning with a food collective committee. Suggested supporting them for one more year before they could become independent made sense.

Chairman Bartley suggested inviting Chamber Director, Jordan Hart, to a future meeting.

Councilor Greaney commended Zoeller for the spreadsheets, stating they made the work easier to manage.

Councilor Vacon commended the work of the committee, noting that she appreciated how involved the process is, having been an applicant in the past.

Chairman Bartley asked if action was needed for the reprogramming.

Zoeller recalled that there had been an allocation the previous year of CDBG-CV funds, which were intended to address Covid. Stated that many activities were funded, adding that a few had not used their funds and the scope of services and conditions changed, the original intents had fallen away. Stated that they looked at programs that sought funds through the regular CDBG process, identified those that could use funds through the Covid funds process, and worked to reprogram those funds. Noted there had been four projects for reallocation: pandemic response, masks, pedestrian improvements, and small business grants. Stated they asked agencies and city departments what they could use for funds. State that they received proposals from the Boys & Girls Club, Farmer’s Market, Margaret’s Pantry, Western Mass Eldercare, Womenshelter, Girls Inc, Health Center, YMCA, and Valley Opportunity Council. Stated that CAC had not been able to put together recommendations, but that there was not a concern as it was for a reprogramming and that the public had been able to comment. Noted that while reconfigurations can sometimes be done without a public process, the level of this reconfiguration does require it and was seeking the committee’s input.

Councilor Greaney asked if the Senior Center made requests for equipment such as transport chairs and wheelchairs.

Zoeller stated that the proposals on the spreadsheet are what was received, adding that the city would be receiving more substantial funds where air quality and health related projects may be funded through that cycle.

Chairman Bartley suggested Councilor Greaney could communicate the information to the Senior Center for the next process.

Councilor Greaney stated he would intend to do that, adding that the Senior Center was planning to open on June 7th.

Councilor Vacon asked why the DPW would be giving money back for pedestrian improvements.

Zoeller stated that they applied for $110,000 for Covid-related pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Noted that it had been in the first round of Covid-related improvements when there had been a thought that it would help social distancing measures to create more bike and pedestrian paths or close down some streets. Stated that the project had not launched and that the idea of closing streets fell away.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the OCD reprogramming recommendations. Stated that he welcomed the information that certain zeroed improvements could receive funds in the next cycle. Noted asked what the $7,000 difference would be used for.

Zoeller stated that these funds would likely remain in the general Board of Health Covid response line item so that as the BOH observes the progress of vaccines, they would have extra funds to respond if necessary.

Chairman Bartley asked for a clarification of the other three sources of revenue.

Zoeller stated that the BOH received allocation of CDBG-CV funds that were described as pandemic response. Noted that it was not clear at the time what the response would look like, adding that with time, the funds had not been needed. Many of the expected needs such as food access and masks had additional sources of funding. Stated that a planned small business grant program was not able to happen due to loss of capacity to launch it. Stated she had been working with the Acting Mayor to launch it with a more flexible funding stream. Stated that HUD keeps tabs on how funds are being used and wanted to assure funds do not linger too long.

Chairman Bartley asked for a clarification on loss of capacity.

Zoeller stated that when a program receives funding, they receive it to provide a service they are in the business of providing. Stated that when funding small business grants, they need an agency that is capable to administer, adding that it is time intensive work. Noted they had not identified someone who could take that on.

Zoeller stated that one concern with Holyoke is the capacity of non-profits, noting that many operate “on a shoe string” and that it is often challenging to provide the services. Noted that the small business grant program would continue with reduced funding until there was greater capacity to manage it.

Chairman Bartley stated it was unfortunate to turn away funds, adding that there seemed to be a disconnect with the fact that Holyoke has a lot of non-profits.

Councilor Greaney seconded Councilor Tallman’s motion to accept the recommendations of OCD.

Councilor Murphy stated they would work to get the money and use it as quickly as wisely as possible, noting the value of getting the maximum benefit.

Chairman Bartley noted that there had been much discussion of the need to address food access and insecurity, adding that there should be an effort to get the information out to the public so that people know what the city is doing and to engage more people.

 

Item 6: Schedule next meeting: 6-14-21

Zoeller asked for a clarification that June 14th would be the next DGR meeting.

Chairman Bartley confirmed that it would be.

Zoeller stated that another round of reprogramming coming for the next week. Stated that the Acting mayor had been working with them to use CDBG funds for critical needs. Stated that there would be a proposal to use CDBG funds to address the failed retaining wall along Pine St.

Chairman Bartley asked to confirm it was a one issue reprogramming.

Zoeller stated it would be, adding that they identified some funding sources and would be requesting reprogramming for the Pine St retaining well, likely $300,000 to $350,000.

Councilor Sullivan asked if this was referring to the Wisteriahurst.

Zoeller confirmed it was.

Chairman Bartley noted that he had been by the area recently and noticed it had been crumbling.

Zoeller stated it would be at least $300,000, noting that the whole wall had failed. Stated they had been working with the Acting Mayor, Engineer Bob Peirent, and Kate Preissler from Wisteriahurst. Emphasized the importance of addressing it on the June 14th agenda.

Councilor McGiverin expressed appreciation for the committee taking up the item related to the ballot measure allowing for the recall of elected officials.

Councilor Sullivan noted that there had been warnings about the retaining wall and that action had not been taken to address it.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to adjourn. Chairman Bartley seconded the motion.

Adjourned at 7:44 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
Close window