Around 50 people attended the Redevelopment Authority's public hearing last Thursday, April 30th, with the purpose of "Creating a Vision for Holyoke's City Center". The Authority is undertaking a comprehensive planning study of the Flats, Churchill, South Holyoke, and the greater downtown in order to create a plan/vision for Holyoke's Urban Core to thrive and prosper.
Holyoke hired Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. to develop this Vision Plan. The plan will help Holyoke with long range planning as it reevaluates the downtown "building by building, lot by lot."
The hearing was not what I expected. After orientation we were broken into round table groups for a structured discussion on the questions posed to us. One person at each table took notes while we each took turns giving our ideas, and vision for the future of the city.
Some people in attendance lamented the fact that it was the same people who are at all the meetings. "Hardly anyone from the Spanish speaking community that make up a large number of downtown residents."
One of the 'Old Guard' Holyokers who participated was amazed that everyone had a similar vision for the city. He mentioned it was important to build up the density of the urban core. "Holyoke is city. It needs density not duplexes to build up the tax revenue."
Architect of the Open Square, John Aubin, was very out spoken before and after the hearing. He proposed a concept called 'Holyoke 2020' - to increase our city’s population by 20,000 by the year 2020 via an urban plan designed to achieve that goal.
The hearings will continue on May 28th, and June 25th, 6pm to 8pm on both nights.
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