Fair Share Amendment
The City Council on May 5 unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Fair Share Amendment on the Nov. 8 state election ballot. If approved by voters, it would levy an additional 4 percent tax on the portion of a household’s annual income above $1 million and dedicate the estimated $2 billion in new revenue to “quality public education and affordable colleges and universities, and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges and public transportation.”
I cosponsored the resolution with Ward 2 Councilor Karen Foster and Ward 7 Councilor Rachel Maiore. Targeting revenue for public education is particularly important to Northampton because Chapter 70 school aid to Northampton Public Schools and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School has remained flat for the past 10 fiscal years. Major investments in public education are especially needed now to help students recover academically, socially and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fiscal year 2023 budget
Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra will present her proposed budget for the fiscal year between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, to the City Council during its virtual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday May 19.
The City Council will hold hearings on the budget at 6 p.m. Tuesday May 31 and Wednesday June 1 and a final vote is possible when the City Council meets at 7 p.m. June 2.
Health and Human Services Department
Mayor Gina-Louse Sciarra introduced an order to the City Council on May 5 proposing that the Health Department be renamed the Health and Human Services Department, recognizing its expanded role. The order also would formally create the Community Care Department as part of Health and Human Services.
The City Council will hold a virtual public hearing on the proposed amendments to the city’s administrative code at 7:15 p.m. Thursday May 19. The Zoom link is the same as above.
The mayor’s order reads in part: “The Health and Human Services Department is responsible for protecting, preserving and promoting the health and the well-being of the city’s residents, particularly the most vulnerable. … The Community Care Department is responsible for providing services for community needs, including trained, civilian emergency response to mental health, substance use, and other crisis calls.”
Establishing a Community Care Department under the Board of Health was a key recommendation by the Northampton Policing Review Committee in its report, “Reimagining Safety,” issued in March 2021.
The amendments also would change the title of health director, a position held by Merridith O’Leary, to commissioner of Health and Human Services.
An ordinance proposing staggered no-parking zones on alternate sides of Stoddard Street will be considered by the Transportation and Parking Commission during a virtual meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday May 17.
If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, parking would be banned on the northwest side of the street from a point 410 northeast from Prospect Street to State Street, and on the southeast side of the street 420 feet northeast from Prospect Street.
Here is a link to the proposed ordinance:
And here is a link to a map showing the no-parking zones:
The Department of Public Works is planning drainage improvements for Winter Street, including disconnecting storm drains from the sewer system and installing a gravel stormwater spreader.
The project follows damage caused by two water main breaks in recent years, and the process includes working with neighbors abutting the parcel approximately 73 feet long and 33 feet wide at the dead end of the street to resolve a question about ownership of that land.
The drainage project is scheduled for discussion during a virtual meeting of the Conservation Commission at 5:30 p.m. Thursday May 26; the land ownership issue is scheduled for discussion during a virtual meeting of the City Council Finance Committee at 6 p.m. June 8.
Former Moose Lodge property
The Conservation Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to approve demolition of the former Moose Lodge at 196 Cooke Ave., finding that it would not adversely affect the nearby watershed. The building is expected to be taken down in late July.
The City Council voted in March to appropriate $100,000 to buy the former Moose Lodge property, originally to be used for a municipal animal control facility. The mayor and trustees of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School have since agreed to locate the animal control facility on its campus.
The City Council during its virtual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday May 19 will consider an order to transfer a portion of the 196 Cooke Ave..property to the Conservation Commission for parking and related conservation to add to the Fitzgerald Lake-Broad Brook Greenway. The remainder of the property would be declared surplus for use as affordable or mixed-income housing.
Bay State Bike Month 2022
These events are scheduled to mark Bay State Bike Month in Northampton.
The Northampton Bike Breakfast will be held from 7 to 10 a.m. Wednesday May 18 at the corner of Merrick Lane and King Street across from the Hotel Northampton. Bicyclists can stop to celebrate with other riders and enjoy breakfast provided by local businesses.
A “critical mass ride” will leave from Pulaski Park at 6 p.m. Thursday May 19. Cyclists ride on a main road to call attention to motor vehicle alternatives and the need for improved bicycle infrastructure and safety.
The fourth annual “Great Tree Bike Tour” will be held from Saturday May 21 through Sunday May 29. Instructions for the self-guided tour through Northampton neighborhoods to visit 11 trees will be posted online by Friends of Northampton Trails at http://fntrails.org/ at 5 p.m. Thursday May 19.
The Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday May 22 at the Bombyx Center, 130 Pine St. in Florence. In-person and streaming tickets will be sold for the festival featuring short films about biking. Further information is available online at https://ciclismoclassico.com/community/events/film-festival/