WESTFIELD – Westfield Barnes Airport will receive a grant of $64,355 for vegetation management, the Westfield Cultural Council has four new members in time for its new grant cycle, and a Host Community Agreement will be signed with Clean Technique for a marijuana business following approval by the City Council at Thursday’s meeting.
Unanimous approval for immediate consideration of the airport grant from MassDOT Aeronautics Division brings the total to more than $8.5 million in state and federal grants for improvements at Westfield Barnes Airport since May. Westfield’s share of the work totals just under $500,000.
Also unanimously approved were the four new members of the Westfield Cultural Council, following their submission by At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris, liaison to the WCC. New members are Patricia Conant, a Westfield State University art professor and professional art juror; Linda Slozak, a member of the Westfield 350 committee, Friends of Athenaeum, and third grade teacher; Margaret McLennan, a retired Mass Mutual professional on the board of Sarah Gillett Services for the Elderly in Westfield; and playwright and Westfield Theatre Group member Steve Henderson.
Each appointment was endorsed by comments from various City Council members. The Westfield Cultural Council awarded more than $25,000 in grants allocated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for community art and music projects in 2019.
Also passed unanimously at the meeting was approval recommended by the Legislative & Ordinance committee for the Mayor to sign the Host Community Agreement with Clean Technique, LLC for its proposed marijuana processing business at 32 Char Drive. The business will focus on oil extraction for sale to other marijuana establishments, and does not fall under the city cap of four retail marijuana shops. 3% of the revenue will go to the city under the agreement.
L&O chair William Onyski also submitted the Intergovernmental Agreement with WSU for the provision of public, educational and governmental (PEG) access services to the city. Onyski said the three year agreement for $40,000 a year would primarily pay for providing Channel 15 broadcasts of the City Council, School Committee and Planning Board meetings for the year beginning July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. He said the funding would come from the PEG account and not from the city budget.
Several councilors questioned the agreement’s length and scope, and wanted to hold off on the vote. At-large Councilor Matthew Emmershy said the agreement requires two weeks’ notice for other government meetings, which concerned him; as well as the cost, which he calculated at an average of $555 per meeting. He also commented that the city has hired its own media specialist in Peter Cowles.
Ward 3 Councilor Andrew K. Surprise said that the contract had an option, which did not require approval of all three years.
At-large Councilor Brent B. Bean, II said he was concerned about the pressure on the university to supply personnel for the meetings. The new communication department at Westfield Technical Academy was discussed as a possible future source for volunteers to run the cameras.
Onyski said the contract had been reduced from $75,000 previously due to the new studio at WTA. He also said there are a lot of options out in the contract. The IGA was approved 8-5.
A recommendation by the Zoning, Planning and Development committee to amend the by-laws for the creation of “Flag Lots” that presently do not meet frontage requirements and to schedule a public hearing was approved 10 to 3. “Everything will still have to go through the permitting process,” said ZPD chair Nicholas J. Morganelli, Jr.
A motion of Councilors Morganelli and Surprise that was previously tabled to evaluate trash and recycle truck routes for efficiency was amended to refer to the Board of Public Works and remove the October deadline, and narrowly passed on a vote of 7 to 6.
A new motion by Councilors Surprise and Emmershy to review marijuana zoning and make recommendations for changes in ZPD passed 8-5. Onyski, who voted against the motion, commented that while it is a good idea, it is too soon to review the city’s policy before any marijuana shops have actually opened for business.
A motion by Councilors Surprise, Morganelli, Allie and Emmershy for the Police Commission and Mayor to review and clarify procedures for notifications through the public alert system failed by the same margin.
A motion by Councilors Emmershy, Surprise, Allie and Morganelli to review filtration efforts for Wells 1, 2, 7 and 8 was amended to have the four councilors submit their questions to Council President Ralph J. Figy, to be forwarded to the Water Commission, Department of Public Works and mayor for a report at the first meeting in October. The amended motion passed 12-1.