Land swap divides council
from The Republican, Saturday, August 09, 2008
By KEN ROSS
HOLYOKE - A land swap necessary to build a gas station in the southern section of the city was approved Tuesday by the City Council.
But some councilors believe the gas station is not the right business for that location and would not help spur development in the neighborhood.
"I think this is the wrong location for this type of business," City Councilor Rebecca Lisi said Tuesday.
Lisi was one of four councilors who voted against the land transfer, which was approved 11-4.
The other three councilors who voted against the transfer were John E. Whelihan, Diosdado Lopez and Timothy Purington.
The transfer affects two parcels located on Main Street between Cabot and Spring streets. A 14,850-square-foot parcel owned by the city was given to Trak II, LLC, in exchange for a 16,335-square-foot parcel owned by the development company.
Many councilors spoke in favor of the transfer and praised the proposed gas station.
"To me, this is a home run for the city," City Councilor Todd A. McGee said.
The developer plans to spend $2.5 million on the business, which will create 15 to 25 new jobs and will have a new parking facility, McGee said.
The developer has also promised to beautify the block and operate a laundromat on the site, City Councilor James M. Leahy said.
"It's certainly going to beautify the area," City Councilor Kevin A. Jourdain said.
But others disagreed. "I have a problem with this deal," Lopez said, adding he believes the new gas station will make it harder to attract businesses to the neighborhood.
Purington also said the developer operates two other gas stations in the city and both of them are in "disrepair."
"I don't have a lot of faith in this development company," Purington said.
But the majority of councilors favored the project. "There's more pros than cons," Leahy said.