Friday, September 25, 2009

Event: Meet and Greet at the home of Lori Belanger and Barbara Raines

Sunday, September 27, from 2:00-4:00pm.

Lori Belanger and Barbara Raines are hosting a "Meet and Greet" event at their home at 16 Roland St, Holyoke.

This will be a multi-candidate event as Lori and Barb have invited At-Large Councilors, Rebecca Lisi and Kevin Joudain; Ward 5 City Council Candidate, Linda Vacon; and Candidate for Treasurer, Jon Lumbra may be participating as well.

Neighbors interested in learning about the different candidates' campaign platforms are invited to attend.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Newly formed energy committee looks towards a ‘green’ future

from The Sun, September18- September 24, 2009
by Dennis P. Hohenberger

HOLYOKE – On Tuesday Mayor Michael J. Sullivan introduced the newlyformed City of Holyoke Energy Committee that looks to make the city more energy efficient and be designated a “Green Community” by the state.

In July 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Green Communities Act, as cities and towns vie for the coveted “Green Community” designation that will allow communities, such as Holyoke, to tap into $10 million annually of available grants and assistance through the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

Though better positioned than most communities in the Commonwealth, Holyoke must still meet five criteria set forth by the DOER to tap into those funds.

The criteria includes: Development of renewable energy or alternative energy facilities or research and development facilities, adopt an expedited application and permitting process for energy facilities, energy audits of municipal buildings, purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, and set new energy guidelines on residential and commercial construction or stretch codes.

Sullivan, along with Jim Barry, Western Mass. Region Coordinator of the Green Communities Division of the DOER, met with committee members at Holyoke City Hall Tuesday afternoon. Sullivan told those in attendance that the goal of the committee is to incorporate “good, sound policies” when it comes to energy consumption and conservation.

Sullivan produced a binder of energy reports and audits that the city conducted the past few years on municipal building and facilities. He said the city has benefited from the information as it strives for energy efficiency.

“We're really proud, in fact, Jim (Barry) said today we're one of the communities that's farthest along that he's seen in this planning process and we're happy to hear that,” said Sullivan. “A lot of that has to do with the expertise that we have at the Holyoke Gas & Electric.”

At this stage in the process, Holyoke meets or in the process of meeting the DOER's criteria, as the city adopted Chapter 43B in 2007, which allows for expedited permitting within a “priority development site.” Recently Holyoke received an energy block grant from the DOER that will be used to complete energy audits on all municipal buildings, street and stop lights.

Sullivan said Holyoke will hear this week whether the city has been awarded a Green Communities Technical Assistance Grant from the DOER. The grant will assist the city with completing those goals set by the Commonwealth.

He said the biggest challenge is getting funding for capital improvements. “It’s taking capital equipment, particularly in buildings, retrofitting them to be more energy efficient,” said Sullivan.

Kathleen Anderson, of the Office of Planning & Development, said that over the past few months the city has been collecting data and other information to support the Holyoke's drive to become a Green Community.

Besides mayoral approval, she said the city council must also adopt the five criteria before Holyoke can move forward, similar to the adoption of Chapter 43D. “Once that happens, it then goes to the state and we become a Green Community,” said Anderson.

City Councilors Rebecca Lisi and Elaine Pluta, who were present at the meeting, said they filed an order at the last city council meeting to have Barry and Mark Silvia of the DOER to give a presentation about the Green Communities Act.

“When we are asked to make a decision on the different criteria coming through the council, we can be prepared and be better informed before we make a decision,” said Lisi. She added that with the progress so far, the mayor and city council can meet the DOER's criteria.

“I also think there is an amazing amount of synergy between the different government offices, the council, and the public in working to market Holyoke as a green, friendly, industrial area,” she said.

As the meeting concluded, Sullivan introduced the ad hoc committee comprised of: William Fuqua, Superintendent of Public Works; James Lavelle, Director of Holyoke Gas & Electric; Kathleen Anderson, Office of Planning & Development; Fire Chief David LaFond; Melinda Lane, Police Department; and Whitney Anderson, Maintenance Administration Holyoke School Department.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Event: Meet and Greet at the Gilburg's, 110 Lincoln St.

Sunday, September 20, from 4:00-6:00pm.

The Gilburg Family is hosting a "Meet and Greet" event at their home at 110 Lincoln St, Holyoke.

This will be a multi-candidate event as the Gilburg's have invited At-Large Candidates, Rebecca Lisi, Rory Casey, Jay Ferreira, and Aaron Vega, as well as Candidate for Treasurer, Jon Lumbra.

Neighbors interested in learning about the different candidates' campaign platforms are invited to attend.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Historic Holyoke homes look for official oversight

from The Republican
Wednesday, September 09, 2009

HOLYOKE - Stone walls frame the intersection. The road itself presents a median of trees and green grass bisecting a street lined with hulking Victorians, the old mansions standing on both sides of Fairfield Avenue like some heroic, hoary regiment.

Its median and houses of dusty elegance immediately show Fairfield Avenue to be different from most streets in the city.

Records from the Board of Assessors show at least two of the homes were built when the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was still a very recent memory.

Keeping Fairfield Avenue unique is presenting a challenge.

The City Council voted in December 2007 to designate Fairfield Avenue a historic district, which means exterior alterations must maintain the lane's historic integrity.

That means residents still can paint their homes any color they want. But permanent awnings are prohibited and utilities must remain in the back of homes.

Changes to siding must be approved, and residents are

urged to keep the shape of roofs, railings, porches and exterior door locations.

The issue is that the seven-member commission authorized to approve or reject proposed alterations of property on Fairfield Avenue has yet to be appointed.

The council on Aug. 4 referred to Mayor Michael J. Sullivan an order from Councilor Rebecca Lisi urging that he appoint the Fairfield Avenue Historic District.

"In the simplest terms, it's important because the city needs to do a better job with accountability and follow-through," Lisi said later.

Sullivan said the issue isn't simple. The ordinance establishing the Fairfield Avenue Historic District says that in addition to residents, the commission must include one member from two nominees submitted by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and one member from two nominees submitted by the local Board of Realtors.

City letters to both organizations seeking nominees have gone unanswered, and he is unlikely to appoint the panel until the organizations respond, Sullivan said.

Also, he said, while there was support from residents of Fairfield Avenue to make their street a historic district, there also was opposition.

"I was marginally supportive of it," Sullivan said.

A Republican story in February 2008 showed some residents embraced the historic designation but others weren't completely receptive.

In the meantime, Historian Kate N. Thibodeau said the city Historical Commission - which with the establishment of the Fairfield Avenue Historic Commission no longer has jurisdiction over Fairfield Avenue - nonetheless has been fielding questions as they arise about proposed alterations.

It is a myth, for example, that a homeowner cannot paint a house the color of his or her choice, she said.

Getting Fairfield Avenue declared a historic place was a yearslong and worthy effort, she said, hopeful that qualified commission members can be found.

The goal of preserving a community's historic nature is that such detail distinguishes the community, she said.

Some of the frames of Fairfield Avenue's homes are sagging and the siding on some is more chipped than whole. But most have a "look at that" quality, some with colors that pop like blue, yellow or aqua, others with two-toned detailing around windows.

Some have wrap-around porches and even a few turrets. Some were built as far back as 1870, 1880 and 1891.

"They're gorgeous houses," Thibodeau said. "They're close to what they looked like 100 years ago."

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