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Field redesign rejected

from The Republican

Thursday, November 20, 2008
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HOLYOKE – The City Council Tuesday rejected a $30,000 request to redesign Avery and Mitchell fields, saying they think such a project is too expensive to undertake amid the current economic downturn.

“Are we living in a dream world here,” City Councilor John P. Brunelle said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Right now, we should be tightening the belt as much as we can.”

But other councilors insisted such a project is worth considering. “It’s an area that deserves a look,” City Councilor John J. O’Neill said. “That section of Hampden Street is really problematic.”

Mayor Michael J. Sullivan agreed. “This is just to avert some safety concerns,” he said Wednesday. He added he believes it’s too soon for officials to judge whether the project is too expensive for the city to undertake.

“What’s the project,” Sullivan said. “I think it’s well worth spending $30,000 to see if it’s worth changing Avery and Mitchell field.”

But since the council voted the request down, Sullivan said he does not plan to pursue it.

The council voted 8 – 7 in favor of appropriating the money to redesign the two fields. But the motion failed since it required a two-thirds majority vote.

The councilors who voted in favor of the appropriation were O’Neill, Elaine A. Pluta, Timothy Purington, Peter R. Tallman, Donald R. Welch, Kevin A. Jourdain, James M. Leahy and Todd A. McGee. The councilors who voted against the appropriation were Brunelle, Joseph M. McGiverin, John E. Whelihan, Patricia C. Devine, Anthony M. Keane, Rebecca Lisi and Diosdado Lopez.

The goal of the redesign project was to study the feasibility of combining the two parks, Purington said. He added the study would also examine whether to close the section of Hampden Street which intersects both parks.

An identical design request was considered last year by the council.

Sullivan said no decision has been made to close Hampden Street as part of the rejected request. That’s why he insisted the design funding was requested – to decide whether closing the street to vehicle traffic made the most sense.

He also insisted no specific project had been predetermined. The design request was simply to study possible ways to redesign the two adjacent parks to determine if there was a better way to incorporate the two parks together.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. I voted against this order because of 3 reasons:

    1. As Councilor Brunelle mentioned, we really need to be “tightening our belts” at this point. We are running the city on a very tight budget as it is. Any funding for studies should be directed to the heart of downtown, where we have the most to gain, in my opinion.

    2. The project seemed limited in focus. A study of merging the fields should be part of a much larger and more comprehensive traffic analysis of the area, which was not included in the language of the order.

    3. I am very hesitatnt to initiate large-scale public works projects with an outgoing Mayor. His successor may have different ideas about what needs to be prioritized. Councilor Lopez suggested that if the Mayor is intent on pusuing this project he can appropriate money directly from CDBG money.

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