Westfield Council to weigh PVTA pact

WESTFIELD – The City Council members will discuss the benefits of approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Pioneer Valley Transportation Authority (PVTA) tonight.
City Advancement Officer Jeff Daley, who provided details of the project evaluation process Wednesday night to the Legislative & Ordinance Committee, is slated to attend the council session tonight.
“The mayor is asking the City Council for approval to allow us to begin a master plan study,” Daley said Wednesday night. “This is the eighth iteration of the MOU. We’ve been fighting for the last 15 months to say this is a city project, not a PVTA project, although the funding comes through the PVTA.
“We do not want the PVTA coming in to set up shop on Elm Street. We don’t want a bus station on Elm Street,” Daley said. “We have made it known to the PVTA that we want a large commercial project and that somewhere in the back of that project, there will be a 2,000-square-foot bus facility, and above that facility, community space.”
Daley said the bus facility will most likely front Arnold Street.
“It will not be similar to the facility in Holyoke,” Daley said. “Our needs are much different. We really don’t have that many PVTA bus routes. So (the bus facility) will be an indent off Arnold Street, a place to pull in, pick up or drop off passengers and go, with a ticket/business area.”
Daley said the facility would not be exclusively a PVTA facility and could be shared by other transportation companies or agencies.
Daley said that while there is a sense or urgency to capture nearly $7 million in federal transportation funds, the city will not accept a project that is not in line with the vision of a mixed-use building, with retail, commercial and perhaps residential components, as well as the transportation element.
“We’re not trying to rush this through. It’s been out there for 20 years. We have now come to the resolution that the city is at the table, that the PVTA is not driving the bus,” Daley said. “This is too important for our city to be a bus station, it’s too important not to use those (state and federal transportation) funds. It’s a (environmentally) dirty site. We need those funds (to mitigate pollution) and to take property.”
The MOU will allow the city to work with the PVTA to define the focus and scope of a feasibility study being funded through a $400,000 state transportation grant.
“We can study the traffic, study the present building ownership and come up with estimates of value, and study potential retail and commercial tenants through the state-funded feasibility study,” Daley said. “That feasibility study will also provide cost estimates for different project scenarios.”
“What this project is becoming is a way to use state and federal money to assemble the properties for the site and to build a 2,000-square-foot transportation facility.” he said.

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