I have a link to the as yet unfinished new City of Holyoke website, which I will not share since I am not authorized to do so. The navigation does seem somewhat improved over the current site, but I will have to wait for it to be finished before I critique it further.
From a web developer's point of view, making a website for a city, with all the different offices adding input, must be the worst municipal merry-go-round imaginable.
Imagine a town that could pass for Holyoke's double. A sister mill town, bigger than Holyoke. With mills measured in acres not city blocks. And like Holyoke, a town with a high Hispanic population, and a history of arson. Even a Mayor named Mike Sullivan.
Now Imagine that town residing 27 miles from Boston.
Holyoke's economy already operates on a 3rd world level, mostly lemonade stands, and bake sales, but State officials are looking to stamp that out. They have made it easy to report your neighbors by calling a toll free number or visiting their website.
MIFA's office is located in the Bank of America building on Suffolk St. On the way over I couldn't help to notice the guy who styles himself as "The Marquess of Holyoke" sitting in purple splendor on Maple St. I really should have a proper interview with him.
Over the years MIFA has persuaded many well known artist to come to Holyoke. Too bad there isn't a vibrant community to great them.
MIFA's office has a great view of the Victory Theatre, and Mount Tom in the distance.
I was happy to see a many people I already knew. Olivia Mausel, chair of the Holyoke Historical Commission, served drinks. Seen here talking to Brendan Ciecko, too young to have the type drink he really wanted. I got distracted talking to Brendan, and his Girlfriend Elisabeth. It's nice talking to someone who sees Holyoke for what it can be, not what it currently is. Brendan is full of facts about the architecture of Holyoke.
Donald Sanders, Executive Director of MIFA, spoke about the accomplishments of MIFA, and in such a nice way asked for $25 million to fix the Victory. Last I knew it was $10 million. I still don't know if he was joking about the inflated price tag.
Even though I went with the intention of grilling him about the plans for the Victory I never got the chance to corner him.
After the open house a few of us went exploring the mostly vacant Bank of America Building. Former tenants left behind all sorts of things. My neighbor Amy Johnquest tries out a stylist chair. I was surprised to see her at the open house. I had no idea she is an artist, and she has some really cool stuff! Check it out.
Later the issue of the Mayor's new redevelopment plan came up. Particularly the demolition of the city hall annex. So we walked over to see just how bad the annex building is.
Brendan couldn't see why the city would tear down a perfectly good building like the Annex. I had not given it any serious thought until last night. I can see the mayor's point of view, we already have too much vacant property in town including the Smith building right next to the Annex. But then again the Smith is in really bad shape, and the annex looks usable.
If anyone can come up with a plan to make it work these guys can.
Unfortunately the City's budget looks like a bad checkbook. Writing checks for money that isn't there yet. I fully agree with the need to keep the city's budget balanced, but playing political games with the budget is not cool.
Yes, this was taken by me in Holyoke.
The city council has put the mayor in a catch-22 by cutting money from things he needs. People are always on the guy about the vacant buildings in town, and city's legal dept is the front line of that battle. By cutting the funds for legal services the city will have to limit that fight.
It IS the counsel's decision to make. But did they make it for the right reason?
$100 million for Western Mass, $900 million for the rest of the State.
$13 per person in Western Mass, $176 per person in the rest of the State.
95% of the $100 million is going to Amherst, the richest town in Western Mass.
Of the $900 million going to the rest of the State, $90 million of that is going to Worcester, All the rest is going to a cluster of companies in the Merrimack Valley, Cape Ann and the North Shore. The life sciences plan will result in even more jobs across the region (Boston area). It will help cities and towns by increasing their tax bases as new businesses set up shop to take advantage of the state's incentives.
Yesterday, Holyoke business leaders asked the State for $3 million to help reclaim, and redevelop the Parsons Mill site. State officials told Holyoke, We can't pay every time you people in Western Mass want something. The State simply can't afford it.
Yesterday I revisited the Parsons Mill with a friend that had not seen the devastation yet.
When the company went into bankruptcy, everyone was told to leave and the mill was locked up. Everything was left in place. All the machinery, rolls of paper, company archives, personnel files, everything was left in there.
The remainder of the building is now completely unsecured. besides the open doors from the fire men gaining entry, people have been breaking in for quite some time. Ransacking, vandalizing, and stealing anything of value.
Charred telephone pole across the street.
A steady stream of people visited the site to take pictures, or scope the scrap metal opportunity. I saw two guys in a truck with scrap metal already in it. Overheard: We'll come back later.
A Deputy Chief came in to assess the increasing smoke coming from a deep corner of the Mill.
It wasn't long before a fire truck arrived to add more water.
Canal Duck is on scene
Short Video of the fire dept putting out a hot spot 6 days after the fire.
The game starts at 6:30pm against the Keene Swampbats. Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for kids and Sr citizens. Children under six enter for free.
The Wednesday opener is followed by three additional home games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Last Monday the team traveled to Lynn for a game against the Navigators. The Navigators are the former Holyoke Giants - moved to Lynn last year by team owner Phil Rosenfield. Holyoke defeated Lynn 4-0.