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October 18, 2021 Fund Raiser, Meet & Greet

Monday, October 18, 2021
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
at Pilsudski Park, County Road

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Ward 5 Update, October 2021 from Linda

Hi Everyone:

1) Sewer Rate
2) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202
3) Old Geriatric Authority property
4) Cross walks, line painting, sunken man hole covers & traffic
5) Election Season

1) Sewer Rate:
The sewer rate was taken up at the last city council meeting in September and a compromise rate of $7.50 was passed. A rate of $8.05 (from $6.65) had been proposed. My position is that we should continue to support the lowest rate possible and hold rate payers who owe money accountable.

2) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202:
The installation is planned to be completed in October as of this update.

3) Old Geriatric Authority property:
The closing on the sale took place on September 30, 2021. Permitting regarding fence height is being addressed for safety at the site. Demolition is planned to occur in the next few months.
Please see below for details from a recent letter sent from the Western MA Behavioral Hospital’s development team:
  • Abatement mobilization is scheduled for early next week as we have been prepping behind the scenes to start immediately following the closing on the land. The overall duration for Abatement and Demolition work is projected to last around 5-6 months, and we are exploring opportunities to accelerate this timeline.
  • “New Construction” will then follow Abatement/Demolition with an approximate start date in March 2022.
  • Over the next couple months we will be planning our official “Groundbreaking” activities. Our goal is to abate and demolish the buildings before an actual groundbreaking ceremony is held (for safety concerns). We look forward to providing you with updates as the details are formalized for this event.
4) Cross walks, line painting, sunken man hole covers & traffic:
Crosswalks: Flashing beacons will be installed at Homestead and Kane and Homestead and Pynchon Roads. They are funded through a state grant and will improve safety on this very busy road.
Line painting has begun. Please let me know if something is missed near you.

5) Election Season: Please vote in the election on November 2nd!

There will be a fundraiser for me at Pilsudski Park on Monday October 18th at 5:30PM. For a flyer and more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org

Thank You,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
C: 210-6077

Recent Events:

September 2021 Update from Linda

Hi Everyone: Happy Fall!

1) Budget:
Our Acting Mayor Murphy decided to use a portion of the money for long term capital expenses and for current programs. This will help to reduce the long-term costs for some infrastructure projects and complete some housing projects.

2) Sewer Rate:
The sewer rate was not taken up at the last city council meeting in September. A rate of $8.05 (from $6.65) has been proposed. For the past few years, the general fund has been supporting the sewer fund meaning those who do not have city sewer are paying for the sewer service. My position is that we should support the lowest rate possible and hold rate payers who owe money accountable. Various rates were proposed. I supported the lower rates, but those seeking the higher rates would not join and 9 votes are required to pass a rate.

3) Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection:
A revised traffic pattern was being tested at the Apremont Highway/Rock Valley intersection. Due to feedback from you and a site visit in September with Bob Pierent, Mayor Murphy and me a revised test pattern is being evaluated. The most concerning issues were the line of sight and speed of cars traveling down the Apremont hill when taking a left from Rock Valley on to Apremont and difficulty taking a right from Rock Valley on to Apremont quickly enough with no line of sight for cars coming from Apremont toward 202.
The original test pattern has been removed and it is not known if another test will be installed at this time.

4) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202:
The installation is planned to be completed in October as of this update.

5) Old Geriatric Authority property:
The sale is now expected to be finalized by the end of September or early October. The permitting regarding fence height is being addressed for safety at the site.

6) Line painting, sunken man hole covers & traffic:
These concerns remain problematic here in Ward 5 and throughout the city. DPW reports that road line painting should begin today, September 28th. I forward your reported concerns to our DPW and/or file orders with the City Council as needed.

7) Election Season:
I hope you voted on September 21st! We now have two finalists for Mayor this year. Mike Sullivan topped the ticket with the most votes and Joshua Garcia earned the second slot. The turnout was lower than expected at 19%, even with mail in voting, early voting, absentee voting and in person voting on the 21st. Please review the candidates for all offices and vote in the election on November 2nd!

For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org

Thank You,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
C: 210-6077

Past Events:

August 2021 Update from Linda

Ward 5 Update August 2021
Hi Everyone, Happy Tropical Summer!
Topics:
  1. Budget
  2. Sewer Rate
  3. Sunset/Ashley project
  4. Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection
  5. Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202
  6. Old Geriatric Authority property
  7. Homestead Avenue & Neighborhood Watch
  8. Pot holes, sunken man hole covers & traffic
  9. Election Season
  10. Sidewalks
1) Budget:
Money has been made available to the City from Federal tax dollars which can be used over the next two years. This money is one-time and is not ongoing funding for the city government. I am asking our Mayor to use as much of the money as possible for long term capital expenses that will help to reduce the ongoing cost to the city and give taxpayers the best long term result from the funding.

2) Sewer Rate:
A rate of $8.05 (from $6.65) has been proposed and there will be another City Council meeting to attempt to set a rate. For the past few years, the general fund has been supporting the sewer fund meaning those who do not have city sewer are paying for the sewer service. My position is that we should support the lowest rate needed to keep the fund balanced and hold rate payers who owe money accountable. Various rates were proposed. I supported the lower rates, but those seeking the higher rates would not join and 9 votes are required to pass a rate.

3) Sunset/Ashley project:
After a citizen’s petition, public hearings and overwhelming support from the neighbors in the Sunset/Ashley neighborhood the project is complete! Safety and peace throughout the area has been restored that had been disrupted after the construction of Doyle Drive and the increased traffic from Westfield. It was a complicated problem to solve, but with DPW and our City Engineer along with citizen participation we all worked together to get it done. As your Ward Councilor, it is rewarding when after months and years of effort, a problem can be successfully addressed.

4) Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection:
A revised traffic pattern is being tested at the Apremont Highway/Rock Valley intersection. Feedback from you has been shared with Mike McManus and Bob Peirent at DPW as this test period continues. Feedback shared includes:

So far the feedback has been more positive than negative. A summary of suggestions so far follows:
A suggestion is for a 4 way stop which you have addressed previously:
  • A concern expressed is: when taking the new right on to Apremont from Rock Valley, if you have a large vehicle the center line is crossed before the driver straightens out on the road (it looks like some modifications could be made there for turning right more easily)
  • Fear from drivers coming down the hill at a fast rate if taking the same right ( maybe because it is closer to the hill….)
  • Suggestion for more tree trimming on Apremont so if someone is stopped to take the left on to Rock Valley they can be seen better and sooner by those behind them
  • More signage has been requested: such as left turn sign
  • One idea: could we add a sign on the hill-when coming down Apremont- (traffic entering ahead) or something to that effect?
If there are other concerns or ideas please let me know or contact DPW directly if you prefer.

5) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202:
The installation is planned to be completed in October.

6) Old Geriatric Authority property:
The sale should be finalized soon this month. Some permitting regarding fence height is being addressed for safety at the site.

7) Homestead Avenue & Neighborhood Watch:
Recently there have been drive by shootings on Homestead Ave, twice at one location! If neighbors want to set up a Neighborhood Watch group as we had in the past here in Ward 5, please let me know and I will set up an organizing meeting as soon as possible.

8) Pot holes, sunken man hole covers & traffic:
These concerns remain problematic here in Ward 5 and throughout the city. I forward your reported concerns to our DPW and/or file orders with the City Council as needed. While it is a frustrating situation, the needs currently exceed our resources. Hopefully some of the COVID $ can be used for these issues. Our Mayor will be deciding how to use the money (approximately $14M) within certain rules that have been set by the Federal Government. The DGR Committee will meet tomorrow to recommend use of the money for local improvements to our Mayor.
9) Election Season:
We have seven certified candidates for Mayor this year! There will be a primary election on September 21st. Please vote as you will determine the two final candidates in the November election.

10) Sidewalks:
There may be an opportunity to make repairs to existing sidewalks throughout the city. I am checking throughout the ward, but also ask that you let me know if there is a sidewalk in your neigborhood that should be on the list.

For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org
Thank You,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

July 2021 Update from Linda

Ward 5 Update July 2021
Hi Everyone: Happy Summer!

1) Budget:
The City Council made some cuts ($434,250. as reported by the Clerk) to the budget presented by Mayor Murphy leaving approximately 1M dollars of expenses to be covered to balance the budget. Among the cuts were the elimination of an additional Captain in the Police Department (there are currently three (3) and the budget would have increased it to four (4). Due to the con- tinuing budget deficit, it is not the time to add positions to increase the size of city government when taxpayers are still suffering from effects of the covid shutdown, including high unemploy- ment.

2) City Hall is open!
City Council is now meeting in chambers with an option for those to use remote technology also. Masks are no longer required in City Hall, but of course anyone who chooses to wear one may do so.

3) Sewer Rate:
A rate of $8.05 (from $6.65) has been proposed and there will be a public hearing on July 28th at 7PM. Our Mayor has stated this rate is needed to balance the sewer fund that need to be self-sup- porting. For the past few years, the general fund has been supporting the sewer fund meaning those who do not have city sewer are paying for the sewer service. My position is that we should support the lowest rate needed to keep the fund balanced.

4) Sunset/Ashley project:
After overwhelming support from the neighborhood and a long test closing of the streets, the per- manent project for the construction of sidewalks has been approved! A pre-construction meeting will take place this week and a date for the work will be determined. Gomes Construction will be the contractor for the project.

5) Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley intersection:
Once the jersey barriers are removed from Sunset & Ashley, Mike McManus, DPW Superintend- ant, has indicated they will be placed at the longstanding problematic intersection at Apremont & Rock Valley Road. They will alter the traffic pattern to test the change for improved safety at that intersection.

6) Light at Apremont Hwy and Rt 202:
The installation is planned to be completed in October.

7) Old Geriatric Authority property:
Mayor Murphy has indicated the property sale will be finalized in August. Traffic concerns for the area and the intersection of Westfield Road & Holy Family road will need to be addressed through the site plan review process for the hospital construction.

8) Neighborhood Watch:
In an effort to ensure neighborhood safety and collaboration, I am working with Ed Caissie and Madeline Fernandez from the Sheriff”s Department along with a neighbor coalition for the Holy- oke Safe Neighborhood Initiative. An initial team building/neighborhood clean up took place at Tokeneke in May.

9) Pot holes, sunken man hole covers & traffic:

These concerns remain problematic here in Ward 5 and throughout the city. I forward your re- ported concerns to our DPW and/or file orders with the City Council as needed. While it is a frustrating situation, the needs currently exceed our resources. Hopefully some of the COVID $ can be used for these issues. The Mayor will be deciding how to use the money (approximately $14M) within certain rules that have been set by the Federal Government.

10) Election Season:
We have a very large number of candidates for Mayor this year! There will be a primary election on September 21st. Please vote as you will determine the two final candidates in the November election.

This document in PDF
For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org
Thank You,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

May 2021 Update from Linda

Topics:
  1. Budget
  2. Acting Mayor
  3. Marijuana
  4. City Employee Pay
  5. City Hall Remains Closed
1) Budget:
Acting Mayor Murphy has submitted a budget for the next year with an increase of 2.28%. While this sounds like a small increase, we continue to budget for more expenses than anticipated revenue. While we will receive a one-time payment due to COVID it will be spread over two years and is not a continuing revenue source.

2) Acting Mayor:
After a one-time Charter change so the City Council could elect an Acting Mayor, City Councilor Terry Murphy was elected to fill the position until November. He brings a strong work ethic to the role and will serve our City well.

3) Marijuana:
The ordinance was updated, mostly to bring it in line with current local operating practices. The most significant change includes local deliveries by Holyoke residents. Other communities were already delivering in Holyoke, so now our residents can participate.

4) Discussions continue on city employee pay:
I continue to support increased pay for the lower paid city employees. The salary study ranges were approved without my support because of extreme increases made for higher paid employees in a time when residents and businesses have been struggling financially.

Some Councilors have repeatedly pushed to pay a now, ex-employee $11,000 for past years of work. This has failed to pass three times and I hope the matter is now closed. It is not the time to pay out tax payers hard earned money for someone for prior years who is no longer an employee and was never a Holyoke resident.

5) City Hall remains closed at this time: Planned re-opening June 1st
Mayor Murphy has indicated City Hall will open on June 1st. The Governor is lifting COVID restrictions as of May 29th. I urged the City Council to meet in Council Chamber ASAP. The zoom meetings are becoming problematic with intermittent attendance by members with increasing rules and voting issues arising.

For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org

Please let me now if you have other questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

March 2021 Update from Linda

Topics:
  1. Trash Pickup
  2. Mayor Resigning
  3. Chickens
  4. City Employee Pay
  5. City Hall Closed
Hi All:
1) TRASH TRASH TRASH! Many of you have called or emailed due to repeated delays in trash and recycling pick up. If you are not signed up for notices from DPW and the city here is the link:
Sign up here

In the last few days the communication has improved as far as schedules to catch up! We hope things will be caught up by the end of next week. While it has been frustrating for us, the DPW workers have been working hard throughout the covid pandemic and we thank them for the efforts! New trucks will be ordered and we look forward to full staff as covid numbers continue to improve in our City!

Sign up here

2) Mayor planning to resign to take position in Provincetown MA. We will be busy setting up a plan to continue the business of our city in anticipation of the election in November. When more details are known you will be updated. The plan is for the President of the City Council to assume the role of Acting Mayor on a temporary basis.

3.) Chickens: After much discussion, our City Council decided that our current ordinance that allows chickens in the RA zone by right is a good local law. It remains in place so that those in the residential/agriculture zone can keep chickens.

4) Discussions continue on city employee pay. During the last committee meeting the committee voted to give one city employee a $13,000 increase. This issue continues to be discussed in the committee and has not been sent to the city council for a vote yet. While I support a market based pay scale for city employees, I cannot support raises such as this when our citizens are in dire financial situations due to covid and severe business restrictions that have been in place for a year now. My top priority is to improve the entry level pay and pay rates for our lower paid employees in our city,

5) City Hall remains closed at this time. Appointments can be made. I have asked each department head to provide the days and hours that they are present in their official office during the week. The City Council approved this request and the schedules are to be posted on www.holyoke.org

For more information on local issues and articles please visit my website at lindavacon.org

Please let me now if you have other questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

February 2021 Update from Linda

Hello Everyone!
I hope you are doing OK and staying safe during this relentless Covid 19 pandemic. As a nurse and Health Services Director, I see first hand the effects of this terrible illness on our elders each day.

1) Covid 19 Update:
Our Health Department Director, Sean Gonalves, sends out updates on a regular basis and they can be found on my website at lindavacon.org. Yesterday, he let us know that our Council on Aging will be providing assistance for eligible elders to obtain the Covid vaccine. If you are 75 or older and need assistance to register for the Covid vaccine, please call the Council on Aging at 322-5625.

2) Apremont Hwy/Rock Valley Road intersection:
After your and my continued requests to the Public Safety Committee, the DPW reviewed the intersection again and recommended a three way stop be installed. The full City Council approved this project and it is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2021. We all look forward to this safety improvement.

3) Trash and recycling pick up delays:
This issue that has occurred due to manpower and equipment/vehicle issues as well as waiting to dump at the collection sites, was addressed this week in Finance Committee. Vehicle repair costs and the age of vehicles was reviewed as well as the cost and possible funding for new vehicles. This issue will be further addressed in the coming weeks.

4) Recent resignation of Treasurer Sandra Smith:
After many years of service to our City, Treasurer Sandy Smith, submitted her resignation effective the end of February. We will miss her, but will need to take steps promptly to ensure continuation of her office until the election in November of 2021 when there will be elections for Mayor, Clerk, Treasurer, City Council and School Committee.

Please let me know if you have further questions and I will do my best to assist you,

Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon
533-6498 or 210-6077

Ward 5 Update, November 13, 2020

City Council and Ward 5 News - [PDF]

Important notice: City Council meetings, Property tax bills

City Council meeting of April 21, 2020. Linda advocates for public input at these meetings
Hi Everyone!
Since we cannot meet during this Corona virus pandemic, I wanted to send you a quick update. The City Council meetings will be held and broadcast on Channel 15.

They will look different because we will be meeting on Zoom remotely, but you will be able to view the meeting and hear the discussion.

I urge you to continue to follow the safety recommendations during this period. If we do, our results will be better than the early predictions.
The safest path is to stay at home unless essential activity is needed and maintain 6 feet of distance when you go out.

Face covers are currently recommended if you will be within 6 feet of another person, but care must be taken that they do not become contaminated or they do no good. Make sure you wash a cloth face cover EVERY DAY!

For those who are suffering financially now,
the Property Tax bill deadline has been extended from May 1st until June 1st. If you pay by June 30th, interest and fees will be waived (this includes vehicle excise tax). You can check on the city web site Collectors office for more info, at HOLYOKE.ORG

For local, state and other updates on the Corona virus see below

Please stay safe and well until we meet again!

Your Ward 5 City Councilor
Linda Vacon RN

CITIZEN’S FORUM

Dino's, Homestead Ave.
Saturday, October 26th
Noon - 2PM
for Pizza, Updates, Q & A, & casual conversation
Topics:
  1. Voting on November 5th
  2. Update for Sunset Ashley neighborhood
  3. Update on water issue on Homestead/Amazon project
  4. Update on speed study Mountain Road (hopefully)
  5. Q & A
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes

Forum on Ballot Question Tax Increase

Watch video of the Oct. 17th event Click Here

Re-election fundraiser


JP's Restaurant,
Whiting Farms Road
Monday, September 30, 2019
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Donations gratefully accepted!
VIEW/PRINT Event Flyer


CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Dino’s Pizza
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Monday, April 15, 2019
6:00 p.m.
(Note Change of location & TIME for the meeting!)
AGENDA:
  1. Update on traffic issues Clayton, Ashley, Sunset neighborhood
  2. Update on Middle Schools proposal/ballot question
  3. Updates on City Council meetings
  4. Other issues as requested - please email me so I can provide accurate information.
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes

CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Meet with Linda at Dino’s Pizza
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Monday, October 15, 2018
5:00 p.m.
AGENDA
  1. Update on traffic issues Clayton, Ashley, Sunset neighborhood
  2. Update on Middle Schools proposal
  3. Updates on City Council meetings
  4. Other issues as requested-please email me so I can provide accurate information.
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes

CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Meet with Linda at Mrs. Mitchell’s
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
6:00 p.m.
AGENDA
  1. Presentation by DPW Superintendent Mike McManus:
    Some options for traffic issues Clayton, Ashley, Sunset Neighborhood, Rock Valley and Apremont Hwy. & Blueberry Hill near the Elks.
    Mike McManus will bring some sketches for residents to review
  2. City Finance Update
  3. Other issues as requested
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes


CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Meet with Linda at Mrs. Mitchell’s
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Thursday, March 1, 2018
6:00 p.m.
AGENDA
  1. Tax bills / financial issues in our city
  2. Some options for traffic issues Clayton, Ashley, Sunset
    (seeking feedback from residents re: preferences)
  3. Pending issues with DPW: Blueberry Hill
  4. Other issues as requested
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes


CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Meet with Linda at Mrs. Mitchell’s
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
6:00 p.m.

Invited Guest: Diosdado Lopez, City Councilor at-large

AGENDA
  1. Update on speed humps-new application
  2. Election update- primary September 26th election Nov 7th
  3. Pending issues with DPW
  4. Other issues as requested
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes


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