Update from Ward 4 Councilor O’Connell

Ward 4 councilor Mary O’Connell

Ward Four and Ward Three residents may notice that some trees have been tagged on a City owned lot at 96 Granville Road.  The parcel is under consideration for a Westfield Gas and Electric Fiber Facility, a telecommunications building.  The new Fiber Installation Project requires that a few of these facilities be installed throughout the City in order to ensure fiber distribution for our residents. The goal of choosing the sites for these telecommunications buildings is to provide the best fiber services to the most consumers possible.  The Westfield Gas and Electric has promised to construct this structure in a design that blends into the neighborhood and is not offensive to the eye.  The many trees marked for removal will be replaced if this site becomes the location of a fiber facility. 

Westfield now has the ability and opportunity to recycle our Styrofoam.  It is exciting that our Director of Public Health, Joe Rouse, could secure the services of a Styrofoam recycling company.  If you bring your Styrofoam to the land fill you will be directed to the recycling section for your disposal.  This will save much space in local landfills. I appreciate the mild nudges from Joy Bunnell to push this recycling along.  Thank you Joy.

The Department of Public Works has a new option for notifying them of pot holes, snow buildup,  hanging branches, dead trees or other concerns.  It is called See,Click, Fix.  You can go on line under the CityofWestfield.org. On the Home page click on “Report a Concern” and sign up.  It is a great system that makes notification of issues easy for residents and easy for City workers to address. The Department has spent so far this season $1,197,020.97 on snow and ice removal. That figure includes $402,042.30 on contractors. By way of example of the high costs of snow removal, the most recent storm, two weeks ago, costs the City $87,414.67.

The School Committee thankfully voted to keep the Russell Elementary School open for at least one more year.  This is a great relief for students, parents, and teachers at the school.  We must trust the School Administration and the School Committee to protect all our Children.  It would have been unfair to place the entire burden on the backs of the former Juniper Park students (now attending the Russell Elementary School).  Sacrifice must be shared by all and I am happy that, in my opinion, the School Committee made the right vote.

The State has been equally as unrealistic and impractical with their responses to legitimate concerns on construction projects in our City. For example, Iexercised my right to offer comment on the Western Avenue Construction Project (incorrectly named the Rte. 20 Access Improvement Project-truly-could the State have created a more nebulous name to discourage public participation at a January 31 Public Hearing?) My concern regarding the width of the lanes, 10-foot-wide travel lane, was met with this response: “There is a five-foot shoulder on the right side, as well as a 2-foot shoulder at the median.  There is less than 500 feet of proposed median and the curb on the median will be mountable.” So, Residents, DO NOT STAND on the median if you see a tractor trailer or fire truck coming at you because the plan is for them to mount the median in the event another large vehicle is coming in the opposite direction! In response to my concerns requesting an asphaltsurface of the northern pathway the response was “Mass DOT’s Complete Streets Engineer recommends bituminous concrete for all multipurpose paths.  This is for a variety of reasons such as durability, drainage and skid resistance.”  Apparently, we need not be concerned with durability or drainage or even skidding along the southern concrete path of Western Avenue. The State makes no sense and folks who know nothing of our Community are calling the shots on construction.  It is indeed frustrating.

As we move into the warmer weather and the Spring season I wish you all peace and health.

Mary O’Connell

Ward Four City Council

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