A Planning Board, and Ordinance Committee, Joint Public Hearing was held last night for a zone change petition on an 18 acer lot, on Whiting Farms Road. SK properties wants the zone change so it can build a Lowe's Home Improvement there.
It was held at the Maurice Donahue School on Whiting Farms Road. The turnout was good, about 150 people, and a good portion of our elected city government showed up too.
The lead up to the public questions, and input session was mind numbingly boring, but once it began, people had a lot to say.
Now, I was going to write something about people's comments at the meeting, but my notes say it all. Apologies in advance if anyone feels my notes oversimplify, or mis-state their opinions.
Traffic is atrocious.
Air quality is already bad.
Think of the School Children!
Why not industrial use?
Will ruin the view.
It's no good for the children.
Who will speak for the children.
What guarantee is there that Lowe's will even exist in ten years.
Lowe's: we wouldn't spend money to build it if we didn't think it was worth it.
The air is already bad, diesel trucks, the parking lot lights will be too bright, I don't want to move.
How many of the new jobs will go to Holyoke residents?
Lowe's: we don't choose what town they (employees) come from, that would be discrimination.
Perspective, where does the neighborhood end and the community begin. We need jobs.
Thanking the people from Lowe's who came out to answer questions.
These homes are the only equity some of these people have. And that's ironic because Lowe's is a home improvement store, " let's build something together", compensation for loss in home value.
During Holiday's I can not leave my street. Why not Kmart plaza? This location was chosen because HG&E is a very powerful company.
Residents will pay for this with their quality of life. 10 percent reduction in home values. The traffic is already bad, holiday traffic all year. You can't turn left, you can't turn right.
The fire dept can't get down the road. Well maybe some of the Lowe's trucks will come out and help us.
The city is to blame for the traffic problems. Nothing has been done in 20 years, since the last study, the State should be involved, why doesn't Holyoke get the same money as Chicopee for it's roads. How many people are going to loose their jobs from local hardware stores? Habermans, highland hardware. The traffic! Let's have a plan in place. to deal with the traffic.
I moved here for the view, now the beautiful hill is gone. It's going to cause more traffic.
Big box, Whiting Farms has grown into this..... As residents, We need to get an attorney! The light pollution from the parking lot. Holiday traffic is impossible. The constant hum of the vehicles.
We need this business to keep Holyoke alive.
Lowes will help us with the traffic problems.
We fought the (current) industrial zoning long ago, and the Transcript Telegram fought us, That rag! They were the first one to leave us. We could do worst than Lowe's.
They've (KMart? Mall?) got traffic backed up to Whiting Farms road!
We put up signs, and we get the thumbs up from the Fire, Police, Ambulance. My son is an expert, and he says there is no way they can put a Lowe's on Whiting Farms Rd, Public safety (committee) should look into this matter. I will call a New York City lawyer if the ambulance can't get to my house.
We can't stop it, it's coming this way. The city can take 15 feet of your front yard anytime, they own it. Let's talk about the children, when they grew up there was no work. If there's no taxes, no schools, why are the children leaving? No work.
The terrain is all wrong for a factory. It (traffic problems) can be done right if you hire the right engineers.
Business next door: We have a lot of traffic coming in. We designed a way to deal with it. We fought for a right turn lane. (Handed a plan to the committee) The traffic coming from 391 comes up that way (Whiting Farms Rd).
Lowes is the first company that wants to work with the city (on this parcel).
People are not coming to the meeting. (no one cares?)
We need the tax base, I live on 141, and the traffic is much worse.
I work down that street, and never encountered any traffic problems. We have the highest business tax rate. We need to expand the tax base.
We are at the point where Massachusetts is having economic problems, and industry is leaving. Holyoke is looking at cuts in funds coming from Boston. 'Grow Holyoke' we need development. The city is going to cut the budget when the state cuts it's budget.
Holyoke has to increase it's tax base. I cope with the traffic. The city dropped the ball with atlas copco.
160 new jobs will not solve the employment issue in Holyoke. Anyone can go out and make up traffic numbers. You've (lowes) not said what it will do for the quality of lives of these people (homeowners).
Lowes: We will have a 'net' benefit to Holyoke.
Young Puerto Rican Woman: Renting and owning is the same thing, I'm sick of supporting these people, this is a great opportunity for people to get off their butts and work.
We are not happy having an abandon field next door, and all the problems that go with it.
The misuse of environments is a great waste of resources. We are just fueling consumerism. Can we look at some way to look at this area in a way so everyone's ship rises.
Traffic lights just stop traffic, it doesn't help it.
On Saturday, November 1 at 10:00 a.m. City Historian Kate Thibodeau will introduce audiences to Holyoke’s rich cultural heritage with a tour of the city.
Please join us for a lively exploration of significant architectural structures and buildings, mills & mansions, churches, and other historical landmark sites.
Anyone interested in taking the tour should arrive at Wistariahurst, 238 Cabot Street, at 9:45. Transportation will depart promptly at 10 o’clock. The tour will travel throughout the city making various stops along the way including Holyoke Heritage State Park, Pulaski Park, a tour of the Victory Theater and Open Square. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours.
For questions or additional information please call the MIFA Office (413)540-0200 or contact Wistariahurst Museum (413)322-5660. Reservations are encouraged, but not required. Admission for the Cultural Tour is $5 per person. The Cultural Tour of Holyoke is part of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. Please visit Passport Holyoke for a listing of other events.
Even as the rain subsided last night the water kept rising in some locations as the system equalized in the low spots of the city. People became trapped in their cars from the rapidly rising water.
The sewer/storm water separation project has been a failure. I'm not saying anyone who works for the city, past or present, are to blame. Just that this has been a disaster.
The long overdo project was mandated by the EPA who threatened to fine the city if it wasn't done. The problem is that our antiquated storm water system can not handle a one inch downpour without the help of the sewer system.
I am amazed by how many people I meet Holyoke who have seen my blog. It was at one of those meetings recently that I was invited to the 'All Holyoke Reunion' at the Bungalow behind the Waterfront, by someone who immediately latched onto the idea that, "your the guy with that site".
The All Holyoke Reunion was started a few years ago as an event for attendees or graduates of any high school in Holyoke, and has grown by word of mouth. I'm not a Holyoke Alum, but as a Holyoke blogger I was invited.
This years event promised to be more interesting since Ralph Nader was scheduled to speak. He was attempting to set a world record for the most campaign speeches in a single day.
Nader's visit was scheduled for 8:00, so I spent time talking to some great Holyokers, and a few nice Nader supporters who came for the speech.
The Nader supporters view him as an honorable alternative to the status quo, and they were genuinely excited to see him arrive.
Nader gave a short, but strongly worded speech. here is a short excerpt.
He had to leave right away to keep on schedule for his attempt at a world record.
The Nader supporters quickly left, and the Holyoke alums, unphased by the stump speech, went right back to having a good time...
And a few people from the Waterfront Halloween party filtered in and out. These two had a rough night.
According to a press release from the Nader Campaign, Nader set a world record of 21 towns in one day.
Tuesday afternoon I had to walk up to the post office to mail a set of letters. They needed to go out right away, and I didn't have the car. So I steeled myself to brave the scary streets, or rather, I just put on my coat, and headed out before the dam PO closed.
I didn't bother to take my camera since I was in a rush, but once freed from my postal obligation I found myself in the downtown, and remembered my cellphone is also a camera.
Curious about the back alley side of the Victory Theatre, I went exploring.
The only incident I had in the downtown, if you can call it that, was this blond haired woman who asked if I had 25 cents for a phone call. I shook my head no, with a disgruntled look. She walked away saying, "I didn't think so you fucking asshole!".
I crossed the street to take a picture of the alley, and the BlondHo turned around, and walked back down the sidewalk like she owned it.
The downtown has quite a few empty storefronts. Too bad speculators have priced out many lower end entrepreneurs who would love to get ahold of these spaces.
The sun was going down, and stores closing up for the day.
But there were still a few people around, mostly heading home at this hour. I headed home down Dwight St.
Of coarse the sun would come out making beautiful light when I don't have my good camera.
Sometimes mistake photos look interesting too.
I began to take this camera phone thing as a challenge.
Experimenting to see what it can do.
Almost home, I tried to get some good shots of the old RR station.
The urban landscape. No! I don't live there..
hmmm.. How creative.
So I did make it home. No stab wounds, or gun shot holes. Maybe I'll walk to PO from now on.