City Council wraps up 2020, re-elects Bean as president


WESTFIELD – In the final City Council meeting of 2020, Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr. took a few minutes to commemorate Westfield’s 100th anniversary of being incorporated as a city on Nov. 2, 1920.

Humason said in 2019, Westfield celebrated 350 years since its founding which overshadowed this event a bit. “I thought before the year ended, it’s important to celebrate that Westfield is a thriving city,” he said. He also recognized the first mayor of Westfield, George W. Searle, the first City Council president Harry Putnam, and read a citation from Governor Charlie Baker.

In other business, the Council approved a grant of $225,776 from MassDOT for the construction of a multi-use trail alongside the south side of Court Street to run from Holcomb Street to Holland Avenue, which will be a continuation of the multi-use trail on Western Ave.

Before considering the motion, a letter was read during public participation from the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail encouraging support for the grant which stated that the trail will dramatically increase the safety of the sidewalk for pedestrians and bikers.

The Council also voted to cut $486,000 from the Water division and $556,000 from Wastewater in FY21, based on less than anticipated revenues in FY20. During a discussion, finance committee chair Ralph J. Figy said the shortage was discovered by new city auditor Vicki Leigh Moro, will not affect the tax rates and must be submitted as part of the package to the Department of Revenue.

“This happens occasionally. They will come back in a month or two and ask for the money back from stabilization. They’re not going to stop doing all these projects,” said At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty.

Acting DPW Director Fran Cain and other water department representatives held a lengthy question and answer session with the City Council regarding water bills. As previously stated in an interview with The Westfield News, the majority of increases was due to a combination of a long, hot summer and drought, people being home more due to COVID, and resulting irrigation and water consumption.

Cain also said that later this year a new functionality of the meters will go online that will allow residents to check their water usage on a daily basis if they sign up for the free service.

Cain said that residents who have concerns should call the office. “We’re a customer service operation; we have people every day that deal with water bills. All people have to do is call the Water department,” he said, adding, “No one has ever had their water shut off for lack of payment in the 20 years I’ve been here.”

The final item on the agenda was election of council president for 2021. At-large Councilor Cindy C. Harris made a motion for Brent B. Bean II to remain president, which was seconded. No other nominations were put forward, and Flaherty made a motion to close the nominations. Bean was elected unanimously.

“This year was interesting at best, and this council has done some great things. We’ve met more than I’ve ever seen a Council meet in a given year, and gone through motions and agenda items. It’s been a great year, although chaotic at times. Thank you for the support,” Bean said.

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