WESTFIELD – The first item on the agenda at the July 1 regular meeting of the City Council was unfinished business from the budget hearings; a request for immediate consideration of an appropriation of $1 million from stabilization to the Engineering construction account.
Finance Committee Chair Ralph J. Figy said the appropriation would replace $1 million that was cut from engineering during the budget process, and would go toward an Old Town roadway improvement project. Figy said the amount of money for the intended project is $2 million, but American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds would fill in the gap.
City Engineer Mark Cressotti said the $1 million which had been cut from the budget was intended for design and roadwork in the downtown meadows area, including George Street, Frederick Street and Parkside Avenue. He said the city is looking to do a complete reconstruction of the roads, sidewalks, sewers, waterline replacement and tree planting and would also use ARPA funds for the work. “We’ve done a number of Old Town efforts over the last 20 years; this is the sixth effort that we’ve done,” Cressotti said
At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty, who proposed the $1 million cut in the general budget which he argued could be paid out of stabilization, thanked the Mayor for submitting the transfer.
Figy said the vote is time sensitive, because the ARPA funds are already in the city’s account. The motion passed unanimously.
Figy also asked for immediate consideration of several grants for the Public Safety Communications Department from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security Communications Department to help defray the costs of regionalization, all of which passed unanimously.,
The first grant is $564 from the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security for expenses related to emergency medical dispatch services. A grant of $25,444 is for fees associated with attending 9-1-1 training online and in person, including lodging and meals if more than 90 miles away.
The third grant, which Figy called “the big one,” is $164,488 to cover part of the cost of the system, consoles, and maintenance contracts, some reimbursable; and the remainder for medical dispatch software and to defray the costs of personnel.
Also approved for immediate consideration was permission to serve beer and wine and to waive the “open container” regulation in the Central Street Parking lot on Aug. 28, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. License Committee Chair John J. Beltrandi III said that the Amelia Park Children’s Museum is managing the Whip City Brewfest in the parking lot that afternoon.
Ward 3 Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane presented a finance committee recommendation for a resolution in anticipation of a grant of $61,500 from the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the Columbia Greenway Northward Extension Study to the Engineering Department. She said a local match of $15,500 is already in the FY22 Engineering budget.
Matthews-Kane said by this fall, the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail will end on Women’s Temperance Park. She said this study will be to see how best to connect with Southampton’s future rail trail, for which that town has just received a $100,000 grant. “This will help us analyze the best and safest way to make the connection. This planning process is expected to be completed by the new year,” she said before unanimous approval.
At-large Councilor Richard K. Sullivan Jr. said on a related note, he has a meeting with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in two weeks to discuss bringing Valley Bike Share to Westfield.
Also passed was a resolution to authorize the Mayor to sign a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Lucky 7 Cannabis, Inc, a cultivation facility and greenhouse at 0 Timberswamp Road.
Ward 4 Councilor Michael Burns said this would be a grow facility comprised of a 5,000 sq. ft. greenhouse, with a plan to expand it to 10,000 square-feet. plus 2,500 square feet for offices and processing. Burns said the company plans to support veterans, and owns two furniture companies in Conn., which are considered environmentally friendly. He said they plan to buy and sell locally. “It’s going to be, they claim, a high-quality product,” he said, adding that plans would have to pass through the Planning Board and Conservation before approval.
Matthews-Kane asked if retail was a part of their plan, which she said was mentioned in their proposal. Burns said they are planning a grow-only facility, but had mentioned future interest in retail in Conn. All four retail licenses are currently out in Westfield.
The resolution passed on a vote of 9-3-1, with Councilors Allie, Flaherty and Morganelli voting no, and Councilor William Onyski abstaining.
At the end of the meeting, Sullivan said he knew he was speaking for the entire council in wishing Figy congratulations on the arrival of his first grandchild, Brynn Francis Cadigan to parents Lauren Figy Cadigan and John Cadigan.
“Thank you. Mother and daughter are resting peacefully at Baystate Noble,” Figy said.