The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the first Monday of each March as COVID-19 Remembrance Day, ” in recognition of those who died as a result of the pandemic and the suffering of those who survived but carry the long-term impacts of this virus.” I co-sponsored the resolution with Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra and Councilor Rachel Maiore of Ward 7.

A similar resolution has been adopted by 185 other communities across the country. The Northampton resolution urges the state Legislature to approve a bill that would establish the statewide observance of COVID-19 Remembrance Day.

The resolution recognizes that “COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color, rural and tribal communities, people with disabilities, people with weakened immune systems, unhoused individuals, and those living in congregate settings such as long-term care facilities and prisons.”

Furthermore, the resolution recognizes that “front-line and essential workers and health-care professionals took selfless action to protect their neighbors and communities and find innovative ways to provide services and save lives.”

The City Council adopted the resolution during its first in-person meeting since March 5, 2020, before the pandemic was declared. In my remarks supporting the resolution, I said that our first meeting in the City Council chambers in nearly three years was an appropriate time to reflect on the lives lost as the result of COVID-19 (including 113 in Northampton), as well as the continuing support needed by many people in the community who are still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.

The full resolution is available here:

Events benefit Ukrainians

Two fundraisers are planned in Northampton during March to support humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian families living in western Massachusetts, as well as those who remain in their home country more than a year after it was invaded by Russia.

Two Ukrainian families who settled in western Massachusetts after the invasion will share their stories during a benefit from 6:45 to 8 p.m., Monday, March 13, at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park St. There will also be videos showing what is happening in Ukraine. Light refreshments will be available.

More information is available here:

Allsport Arena, 54 Old Ferry Road, will host a dodgeball tournament from 3 to 7 p.m., Sunday March 19, with proceeds benefiting nonprofits directly serving the humanitarian needs of the Ukrainian people. Teams of six to 10 people will donate $150 to enter in one of three divisions (youth, ages 11-14; adult recreational, ages 15 and older; and adult competitive, ages 18 and older).

More information, including a link to register, is available here:

Capital Improvement Program

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed Capital Improvement Program at 7:05 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the City Council chambers, Wallace J. Puchalski Municipal Building, 212 Main St. There also will be remote participation via Zoom.

Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra has submitted a five-year plan that calls for spending $116,234,354 total during the next five fiscal years through June 30, 2028. That includes $36,034,187 in capital spending during fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1. Much of that money would pay for improvements to municipal and school buildings, and energy management systems, to meet the city’s goal of net carbon neutrality by 2030.

Capital projects include new buildings, renovations, equipment purchases, and land acquisitions costing $10,000 or more.

The Capital Improvement Program is available here:

Passenger Rail Commission hearing

The Western Massachusetts Passenger Rail Commission established by the Legislature will hold a hearing at 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St., to take testimony about East-West passenger rail service.

It is the third of six scheduled public hearings to gather information about how passenger rail service would benefit the region and how it should be operated.

There also will be remote participation via a livestream that will be available on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website at:

Additionally, written testimony may be submitted by email to commission staff at: [email protected].