Friday, February 01, 2008
By KEN ROSS
HOLYOKE – Removing vacant buildings, creating cleaner parks and reducing the amount of vandalism were just some of the issues raised by South Holyoke residents yesterday at a meeting about ways to improve the neighborhood.
“Hopefully, we’ll develop a common vision,” said Rudy Perkins, project manager for HAP Inc., a housing agency serving the region and one of the groups involved in the project.
The South Holyoke Revitalization Coordinating Committee organized the meeting, which was attended by more than 100 people at Morgan Elementary School. Similar meetings were held last year. A survey was also sent to residents in South Holyoke, which runs from Cabot Street to Interstate 391 and Race Street to the Connecticut River.
Now, such results will be compiled into a report by The Cecil Group, a Boston-based company hired to assist with gathering the information. The report is slated to be completed in March, according to Dale. H. Allen, director of institutional strategy at The Cecil Group.
But that’s just the beginning. Once the report is completed, Allen said residents need to stay involved with the project. “You can’t rely on the city to do all this,” Allen said. “Many of you have to take an active role.”
Last night and at past meetings, residents have stressed the importance of certain issues. Some of them include:
Removing vacant buildings.
Improving the neighborhood’s street lighting and maintenance.
Increasing the police presence here.
Improving housing and parks.
Offering more youth programs.
Creating more opportunities for home ownership.
Before Allen’s presentation, South Holyoke resident Ivette Ortiz said vandalism and illegal drug dealing are a problem in her neighborhood. She also said she wished there was a nearby laundromat.
“There’s so many problems,” Ortiz said.
But she added she was glad such meetings are being held.
Several city officials agreed. Four members of the City Council attended yesterday’s meeting: Elaine A. Pluta, Rebecca Lisi, Diosdado Lopez and Timothy W. Purington.
“This is great,” Lopez said. “I think it’s good to come to the neighborhood and see what we can do.”
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