Several Westfield-based projects have potential for funds in state budget

WESTFIELD—The state’s House and Senate both passed a compromised budget earlier this week and several items within that budget could impact some efforts within the city.

Both of the state’s Representatives and Senators voted in favor of the budget on Monday, July 10, and within that budget, there are funds currently earmarked for four Westfield-based initiatives. The funds total $150,000, and are now going for consideration to Gov. Charlie Baker, along with the rest of the budget.

The four projects that have funds currently within the budget are as follows: $50,000 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the City of Westfield; $25,000 for safety upgrades and restoration work at the Westfield Athenaeum; $50,000 to support the Westfield International Air Show at the Westfield-Barnes Airport; $25,000 for restoration of the Westfield Whip Museum.

In addition, according to the press release from Humason’s office, “The compromise budget also includes a proposal from Senator Humason that would require the Department of Transportation to examine the costs and economic impacts of adding an interchange along the Massachusetts Turnpike between Exits 2 and 3.”

Rep. John Velis, in a photo from The Westfield News files

“All these projects are Westfield folks looking out for their own,” Rep. John Velis said of the four budgeted projects. “These will help the Westfield economy.”

According to Velis, the potential money ascertained shows bipartisanship between he and Humason.

“This is now going to be the fourth consecutive year where the senator and I were able to go to Boston and work together and bring back a benefit to Westfield,” he said.

Harry Rock, president of the Friends of the Westfield 350, who are overseeing the City’s anniversary celebration, said that if the funds are approved it could help their efforts greatly.

“I am obviously really, really hopeful that it passes because right now we have absolutely no money but we have lots of plans, lots of ideas we are working on,” he said.

“And so, our ability to provide, I’m hopeful, the largest birthday party the City has ever seen, will be highly dependent on our ability to raise money,” Rock added.

He also said that he hopes that the state provides a “good amount of seed money” so that the group’s plans can be put into place.

Dan Paquette, director of the Westfield Athenaeum. (WNG file photo)

According to Dan Paquette from the Westfield Athenaeum, the money earmarked for them is welcome if it passes, but they want to be certain that the budget is OKed before they become too excited.

“We are very excited to see that Humason and Velis got this to this stage and we hope that it stays in there,” he also said.

The Athenaeum is currently undergoing renovations to improve universal access into and around the library, along with other improvements.

As for the International Air Show and the Westfield Whip Museum, Velis said that he hopes both will help to draw more people to Westfield.

For the Westfield International Air Show, Velis said that the money will help Westfield be showcased next month.

“From my personal standpoint, this is really about Westfield truly having the ability to shine this summer,” Velis said. “All over new England and beyond coming here. We want Westfield to flourish, we want Westfield to make money.”

As for the Whip Museum, he said the money, if approved, may be used as seed money to get the project going.

“They want to bring back to Westfield an integral part of our city,” he said.

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