Monday, December 29, 2008
Holyoke school officials question grant for homeless children
Christmas angel delivers wallet
PeoplesBank Moves To Protect Brand and Avoid Consumer Confusion
Holyoke offers daytime New Year's Eve fete
Holyoke neighbors pitch in for supersize Christmas tree
Police deliver joy to children
Foster father reunites brothers
Holyoke man sheds 250 lbs.
Holyoke police hand out gifts
Start hoped for HCC project
20 Holyoke residents homeless
Abandoned Properties Pose Security and Safety Hazards
Generator loan OK'd for utility
Hero arrested for drug possession
Texon Building rehab project in South Hadley delayed by lack of financing
Four-Day Forecast: Holyoke Unmasked
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The fire Broke out around 1:30 this afternoon on the 3rd floor.
The firemen cut a hole in the roof to vent the heat and smoke. They had it under control in less than an hour.
looks like everyone got out safe if not a little worse for wear.
This is the second fire on this block in less than a week.
On last Sunday, fire burned a garage behind 640 South East St during the big snow storm, and this is also the same block where a building burned spectacularly last April.
The fire was completely out by 3:00, and the Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.
Complete photo set at Flickr
There are still a few tickets available for the New Years party at Wistariahurst, and we would like to sell them all. (You might as well spend some money on yourself after buying everyone nice things just to get crappy gifts in return.)
We've planned for great music, both a band, and a DJ. Also there'll be a Cash Bar, (so you can get drunk and make an ass of yourself trying to dance. A timeless Holyoke tradition.)
All proceeds go to the Wistariahust Museum, (An opulent Holyoke home built in the age when robber barons made millions off the backs of your poor ancestors.)
So come support Holyoke for New Years, and have a great time doing it. (Hey I'll be there, just meeting me should be worth the price of the ticket.)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Holyoke schools brace for cuts
High-schoolers get college aid
Holyoke library officials concerned over budget cuts
[Video] Wistariahurst Museum
Holyoke Soldiers' Home salutes former Marine for his volunteer efforts
Soldiers Home head indicted for illegal removal of asbestos
Boston Science Museum pays visit to Holyoke
Holyoke Motel Catches Fire
Treasurer misses policy payments
State gives job centers in Holyoke and Springfield $80,000
Governor unveils state capital plan
Lowe's Home Improvement Store Controversy
Soto to become first to challenge Egan for Holyoke city clerk
Unemployment claims impact job centers
Burglary suspect in police custody
Holyoke police raid Cottage Street home
2 brothers get prison terms
Despite recession, packaging firms still in demand
Waste project spurs debate
Man arrested after driving into building
Toys given to needy children in Holyoke
Friday, December 19, 2008
Decorating this years Santa Train was a bit hectic for me with so many other things going on at the same time. So I was pleased that Jeffery Byrnes volunteered to help shoot the event. Jeff took most of the photos I posted here, and I uploaded them to my Flickr account where you can see the entire set.
A big Holyoke Thank You goes to the employees of the PVRR who did the majority of the work, and the company itself for donating the engine, and passenger car for the event.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Before they began the hearing officer read a letter from the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce that spoke favorably of the project. Calling it, "A catalyst for further development in Holyoke".
Mike Rennicke spoke for the PVRR. Beside being a potential transport partner of the transfer station the RR is also a property abutter.
Rennicke explained that the RR has been in continual operation over the same line for the last 138 years, and like all RR's in the United States, the PVRR is strictly regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Viewing slides of a busy rail corridor in Boston, United Waste's lawyer pointed out the negligible impact of rail activities by asking Rennicke about the new buildings built around the corridor seen in the slides.
The Board of Health asked if there were any plans to use rail cars to reduce the number of trucks that will be leaving the facility. Rennicke stated he would like Mr Lemay to consider that, but there are no actual agreements in place. When asked about diesel emissions from trains Rennicke stated that trains are 4-5 times less polluting.
Speaking a behalf of Hope, Carlos Vega asked who owned the rail cars that would transport waste from the facility. Rennicke stated that a variety of leasing companies owned cars, and leased them out where needed.
Liz Budd, also speaking for Hope, asked about the age, and tier classification of the PVRR's Train Engines. Mike Rennicke gave away his age by stating the engines are the same age as he is, 60 years old, and tier classification is Zero. He emphasized that as soon as they get behind one rail car they are much cleaner than the number of trucks that haul the same load.
Ms Budd also asked about safety along the tracks, and asked if he was aware that people walked along the tracks. Rennicke stated people walking the tracks are in violation of State, and Federal law for trespass, and strongly emphasized how dangerous walking along the rail is, and listed the many enforcement agencies they work with to police and prosecute those they find on RR property.
The hearing officer would not allow Ms Budd's questions about the potential revenue the RR would gain from servicing the proposed transfer station. This appeared to cut her questions short ending this session.
The transfer station hearings moved to the Morgan School On Wednesday for a public comment session. This promised to be a bit more exciting than prior sessions, but the weather kept some people away.
Still, the turnout wasn't half bad, and public comments lasted an hour.
It started out with the usual denunciations of the project by residents who:
"do not appreciate what you guy are trying to do"
"this is our city"
"This is not a place to put any more trash"
"Bringing your project here to Holyoke is going to make us look like the city is a dump"
"This project is going to bring a lot of health issues"
Another resident was concerned about air pollution stating he wasn't getting enough positive feedback about what can be done to help people, in reference to potential health impacts.
City Councilor Elaine A Pluta, who lives in Springdale spoke about truck idling. Saying "there should never have to be a line up vehicles waiting to be next", citing a Mass DEP idling regulation she acquired from our State Senators office.
This resident made an issue of the name changes, and corporate reorganization United Waste has gone through the last 2 years, stating "I'm just wondering who really is the applicant and petitioner of the transfer station? I never got an answer, I don't know who legally is?".
It was good to see residents take an interest in what's happening on their street. However I was dismayed that so much was pure NIMBYism.
"I live of Main St, so I will be hearing, feeling, the vibrations of what were taking about doing here"
"I want you to know, I'm opposed to this"
"Increased air pollution, it's got to happen, diesel particulates - I'm scared of, Very serious!"
"Speed - the increase in traffic, there's gone to be noise, pollution, too many traffic accidents"
Robert Egan, representing the current owner of the Main Street property where the proposed transfer station is to be built said there was little interest in the property until Waste Management came along. "We need to put this property to some productive use for both us, and the city" he said as he touted the economic benefits of the project, and recapped much of the testimony already heard in prior sessions.
The 'Grow Holyoke' group was well represented too. They support the project, and cited reasons such as the rising cost of waste removal as reasons for it's support. Saying "We shipped about 95,000 tons of trash in the last year, which cost us about $830,000." Adding "The transfer station will add more competition, and lower prices".
The sound system wasn't too good, and it was hard to hear some people who didn't speak loudly. Even with my recording turned up all the way I can't make it out.
Life long Holyoke resident Nancy Paterno spoke out against traffic dangers. Telling a story of family tragedy due to traffic accidents involving trucks. Also saying: "I don't need to be going on 391, and running into all these huge commercial vehicles - No matter where they come through the city, their all going to be ending up at 391, and Main, and converging on this site".
Former City Councilor Helen Norris was appalled that people thought the current EPA standards are there to protect health. Norris said, "These standards submitted in 2006 were found not to protect public health", citing a report by the American Lung Association. "It's well known, and well documented from science that the health risks from diesel fuel exposure is greatest for children, and the elderly".
Current City Councilor Rebecca Lisi also spoke. She urged the Board of Health to make sure that if they move to approve the project, they set the proper controls and reasonable restrictions on the project so to protect the health of our citizens. Saying "we have a hard time enforcing those codes" in reference to our blighted buildings. "We'll have to put a lot responsibility of enforcement regulation on the proponent".
In total, 13 people spoke out against the project, and 4 people in favor.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This session was moved down the hall to the High School cafeteria since a school function was taking place in the auditorium.
Questioning of the Nuisance control expert from the last session continued with the Board of Health's lawyer quickly entering the "land of anachronisms", as they put it. Details about dust control procedures, and remedies were asked. Some questions were also asked of bird hazard issues, and waste handling procedures. The Board of Health seemed satisfied that it received answers to all its questions.
The Hope group asked about the duties of the staff, and the usual questions of detailed operations of the facility, leading to the objections of United Waste's lawyer. An interesting question was asked if any shooting of nuisance birds would occur at the facility, the answer was a definite no. Hope's questioning did help clarify that the facility would not be responsible for items in the trash that should not be there. That responsibility goes to the source of the trash. You, Me, and the haulers that bring it to the facility.
United Waste's final witness was the traffic expert from the December 3rd session. He testified that United Waste is willing to improve 5 issues that are causing congestion in the I-391 intersections.
Hope had a very critical question that this witness did not seem to understand. His traffic model for the site is based on 100% of the regional traffic going to the facility via I-391. Regional being any traffic originating outside of Holyoke. Hope wanted to know how a truck from Easthampton would use I-391, and the traffic expert sounded very "not from here" in his response.
I really thought Hope had them on this one, but in redirect questioning from United Waste's lawyer it was made clear that the facility has the ability to require regional trucks take I-391 by contractual controls. So the expert only needed to know that all regional trucks would in fact be using I-391.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I arrived a bit late due to a Historical Commission meeting, but in time to hear the Lowe's vote tabled due to a legal question over the petition presented to the City Council from a citizens action group. Something about whether a single condo is an individual abutter, or the condo association is a group abutter? I'm not sure. The key issue is that only abutters can petition for the super majority, otherwise it will require a 2/3rds majority vote.
Most of the audience filed out once it became apparent the vote wasn't going to happen. A surprisingly large number of them were wearing Grow Holyoke pins, a group supporting Lowe's.
Monday, December 15, 2008
In my research of all things NIMBY I came across this article at Planetizen that I found to be funny in it's accuracy of what is happening in Holyoke right now. Enjoy!
The neighborhood meeting
There are good reasons why NIMBYism is so pervasive (more about that later), but it is hard to witness firsthand, say at a neighborhood meeting about a proposed condominium project. First, people complain that they did not get notice of the meeting – yet they are in attendance, so what are we to make of that? Others voice complaints that seem embarrassingly trivial to air in public in a voice quivering with outrage: the developer’s trucks are muddy or the project description misspells the name of their street. General complaints emerge about neighborhood-wide conditions that are somehow now the developer’s responsibility to address. These throat-clearing denunciations are a way to limber up for the main event, which is to dismantle the actual proposal and its proponent in any way possible.
The project-specific complaints follow familiar patterns too. The traffic in every neighborhood is, apparently, already intolerable, no matter what the transportation consultants say about “level of service.” The project will only worsen it, infringing upon residents’ inalienable right to uncongested streets.
read the whole story at planetizen...
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Retired principal to head up Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade
Lock-down at Kelly School in Holyoke ended after intruder identified
Snow takes drivers by surprise
Mall pursuit ends in arrests
Small hardware stores leery of 'big box'
Panel favors Lowe's project
Photo display shows papermaker's history IF YOU GO
'Raising the roof' at the Homework House
Creative fairy tale celebrates literacy
Holyoke boosters organize CRUSH and New Year's gala
Schools turn to hiring freeze
HAP grant to help redevelopment effort
Editorial: Holyoke Lowe's - Jobs for region
O’Connell stresses economy, schools in early bid for Holyoke mayor
Holyoke officers appeal suspension
Holyoke man dies from CO accident
Car crashes into apartment complex
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The City Council Ordinance Committee voted 3 - 2 last night, in favor of the zoning change. Now the matter must be taken up by the whole City Council for approval.
It will require a two thirds majority since a citizens action group, spearheaded by former City Councilor Helen Norris has filed a petition with the Ordinance Committee for a two thirds majority vote on the Lowe's zone change.
This zoning change will likely not pass since several City Councilors have already come out against it. The most public of which is Rebecca Lisi who bravely posted her reasons in her own blog. Even if I don't entirely agree with what she wrote, I give her kudos for posting it, and responding to comments about it.
Another Holyoke blogger, of lesser fame, has posted his two cents as well.
My notes of public comments from the Oct 28th meeting, contain mostly negative issues raised, but a few people were supportive.
As always, feel free to give your two cents, and comment below.