Mayor’s Email Update – 11.10.09

MEETING LOCATION CHANGE: After the 11/10/09 update was circulated, the Mayor’s office announced that the location of the 11/16/09 Comcast and NCTV Annual Review meeting has changed to the City Council Chambers in the Puchalski Municipal Building.

Mayor Clare Higgins’ office circulated the following update on 11/10/09:

Mayor’s Email Update


In this update:

·         Veterans’ Day Activities in Northampton

·         Praise for the City’s Emergency Dispatch leader

·         Educational Consortium at James House wins Beveridge Grant

·         Public Input meetings scheduled for Housing Needs Study

·         Winter Parking Rules available

·         Mayor to speak at Smart Growth Forum, November 20

·         Citizens Police Academy and cityschool: two ways to engage with your government

·         Cable Advisory Committee Public Hearing – Comcast Review

·         City to receive $118,000 Clean Energy Choice matching funds

·         On the Agenda: highlights from the Mayor’s calendar


Veterans’ Day Activities in Northampton

The City’s Annual Veterans’ Day parade will happen on Wednesday November 11, 2009 at 11:00 am.  Marchers should gather at 10:30 a.m. at Lampron Park, in front of the Bridge Street School.  The parade travels down Main Street to Memorial Hall where a brief ceremony will follow.  This year, the City has honored Purple Heart Veterans  at its Veterans of the Year breakfast.


Praise for the City’s Emergency Dispatch Leader

Northampton’s director of our 911 emergency dispatch center, Melissa Nazarro, is now serving as the Western Regional Homeland Security Council’s representative on the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee.  The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications was seeking input on developing a guide book for regional governance within a state which will be produced as a manual and released to the entire nation as an example of strong governance procedures at the regional level.  Ms. Nazarro is the only individual from Massachusetts to participate in this project, a tribute to her knowledge and leadership in preparing the city and the region for emergency response. We are all very proud of the work Ms. Nazarro has done and is continuing to do, providing a strong example of emergency management leadership in Massachusetts, and through this project, for the entire nation.


Educational Consortium at James House wins Beveridge Grant

The Community and Economic Development Office received good news last week in the form of a $20,000 grant from the Beveridge Family Foundation toward construction of a Community Learning Center at the James House on Gothic Street.   The City is renovating the James House for use by the Northampton Community Education Consortium (NCEC) after the Commonwealth moved its court and probate offices to a newly constructed facility in Hadley.  The City has worked with local non-profits to create a central location for adult education, literacy and employment training and family support services.  Already, NCEC has brought GED testing back to Northampton for the first time in years.  Testing is currently being held at the Smith Agricultural and Vocational High School and will move to the James House Learning Center upon completion of construction.  In addition, local community colleges and private institutions of higher learning will hold college readiness and for credit classes here.  Other partners include the Regional Employment Board, Center for New Americans and The Literacy Project.  The Consortium brings together resources which are desperately needed in this economy, providing training, education and support for people entering the workforce or those who find themselves suddenly needing to update their skill sets after an unexpected layoff.  Moreover, the construction project is fully funded by grants and operation of the Center will be fully funded by rental agreements from the participating agencies.  There was no city appropriation to fund NCEC.  Below is a list of funding contributors to the James House renovation project.


Financial Donors:

Smith College

Home Depot

Community Foundation of Western MA


Donated Labor and Materials:

New England Regional Council of Carpenters-Local 108 (Donated construction labor)

Ryan    Arnold, Evan    Briand, Seth    Bristol, Aaron   Bristol, Dmitry  Dubovoy, Geoffery  Fontaine, Nick Giard, Tyler   Green, Zachary  Pvescvel, Adam  Watson, Dan Hamlet, Brian Kenney, John Lyons, Asante  Kamau, Eric Headley, John Andrews, Steve Carrington, Gregg Wing, Ray Bienia, Rick Gumaer, Joe LaFlamme  Jr., Bob  King, Scot   Goulding, Dan Hitchcock, Ben Crosby

Westover Job Corps (donated demolition and construction labor)

J&M Inspection Services, Inc. (Lead Inspection) – Jim Montemagni

Environmental Compliance Services, Inc. (Asbestos Inspection) – Christopher Coelho, Christopher Godfrey

Dietz & Company Architects (donated and discounted design services) – Kevin Riordan, Jeremy Michaels

Johnson Acoustics, Inc. (ceiling tiles-discounted) – Paul Corey

Adrienne Mutumene (painting – discounted)

Ayotte & King for Tile, Inc. (Donated flooring and labor) – Bob King


Public Input meetings scheduled for Housing Needs Study

The Northampton Housing Partnership is sponsoring two meetings to get public input on the Draft Housing Needs Study.  The meetings will be held at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz Street, on Saturday November 21st from 10:00 – Noon and will repeat again on Monday November 23rd from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  The Housing Partnership has been working over the last six months with consultant Karen Sunnarborg to prepare the Needs Assessment which is the first phase of a Strategic Housing Plan for Northampton.  The public is encouraged to weigh in on  the city’s housing needs and affordable housing priorities and strategies.  You can view the Draft Housing Needs Study in advance at this address:  You are encouraged to preregister by calling 587-1286, which will allow us to plan for plenty of seats and refreshments.


Winter Parking Rules Available

We have updated our winter parking brochure for the coming season.  You can see the brochure here: .  Copies of the brochure will be distributed in downtown neighborhoods in the next few weeks.  Essentially, when the city calls a winter parking ban, all cars must be parked off of city streets to facilitate street plowing, sanding, and clearing. To know when there is a winter parking ban, you may call the winter hotline at 586-6969, 24 hours a day.  You may also sign up to receive alerts via email or text messages to your phone by signing up on the city’s website on this page:    If you live on a street with limited off-street parking, please help spread the word to your neighbors when there is a parking ban.  It will save your neighbor $100+ in towing and ticket fees and it will save our DPW and public safety staff the extra time and energy it takes to arrange to tow cars and return to clear streets after the cars have been towed.  The City really, really does not want to tow the cars of our neighbors! The more ways we can spread the word about parking off street during and in the days following a snow storm, the better for us all. Thanks for your help.


Mayor to speak at Smart Growth Forum, November 20

The Lincoln Institute of Land Use Policy has asked me to participate in a panel at its New England Smart Growth Leadership Forum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston later this month to present a perspective from the municipal level on the impact of the current economic climate on smart growth initiatives.  I will share the strategies we have used in Northampton that have secured our spot at the top of the Commonwealth Capital ranking every year, even as we struggle with the fiscal constraints of reduced state aid and a national recession.  I am certain I will learn a great deal from other presenters throughout the day.  If you are interested in seeing the slides I will be sharing as part of my presentation, call or email my office (587-1249 / and Karen or Corinne will send them to you.


Citizens Police Academy and cityschool

There are two opportunities coming up to engage in your local government and learn more about how law enforcement and other aspects of civic life work.  The Citizens Police Academy is  a 10-week course that meets one night once a week for three (3) hours. The course includes lectures, class discussions, demonstrations, and hands-on opportunities for class participants. It’s an opportunity to meet the talented professional men and women who serve in Northampton’s police department – of the few Accredited Police Departments in the Commonwealth – and to learn more about law enforcement.  The next Academy will begin on February 16.  For more information, visit this website: .

We are also planning our second cityschool, a 9 week overview on city government.  The second session will begin in January, with the date to be confirmed.  Interested parties should contact the Mayor’s office at 587-1249 or by email at to get on the list.  We will send out a press release to local media outlets when the dates are finally secured.


Cable Advisory Public Hearing – Comcast Review

On Monday November 16, 2009, at 7:00 p.m., the Northampton Cable Advisory Board will hold a public hearing to review the performance of Comcast and NCTV under the terms of the cable license with the City.  This is part of an annual review process.  Comcast will also make a presentation on the latest phase of their digital transition programming.  If you would like to review the terms of the cable license before the meeting, you will find it online here:   


City to receive $118,000 Clean Energy Choice matching funds

Until June 2009,   whenever  Northampton residents registered  to participate in the Clean Energy Choice program through National Grid, matching funds were deposited in an account for the City to use for renewable and sustainable energy supporting projects.  The Renewable Energy Trust recently announced the final Clean Energy Choice funds to be released to Northampton this month. The grant of nearly $118,000 will be allocated to three projects.  $36,497 will help fund one 90kW photovoltaic array (solar panels) at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School and one 13.5kW photovoltaic array at Jackson Street Elementary School.  $72,000 will pay  the salary for two years for an Energy and Sustainability officer for the city who will be responsible for implementing municipal and community wide renewable energy projects. $9,500 will be used to hire a  consultant to  advise the City on a City-wide comprehensive energy program to  implement all viable energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy solutions for city buildings.


On the Agenda: Highlights from the Mayor’s Calendar

You may be interested in how the Mayor spends her time in office.  While many days are characterized by series of meetings, rarely do the days feel the same.  There is such a breadth of topics and issues to be covered each week.  In an effort to continue the process of sharing information in as many ways as possible, I will use these periodic email updates to highlight some of the things I am working on from week to week on behalf of the city.  Highlights from this week’s and next week’s calendar include:

– winter parking: work on updating our winter weather emergency practices and notification policy; we will distribute a brochure in downtown neighborhoods in the next two weeks.

– Monthly meeting of the City Council’s Education, Housing and Land Use Committee

– Reading to children at Vernon Street School at an evening potluck

– an update meeting with the new director of the Board of Health

– a meeting with staff, City Councilor and citizens about the Chesterfield Road Dam

– Academy of Music Trustees meeting

– Monthly lunch with the Florence Business and Civic Association

Meeting of the Northampton Community Education Consortium at the James House

– Monthly meeting of the School Committee

– Regular monthly meeting with the Chamber of Commerce

– Regular meeting with MassDevelopment regarding the Hospital Hill project

– Regular update meetings with several department heads

– on November 17th, I will travel to Boston to participate as an Honorary Chair in the Thanksgiving Dinner to Celebrate Immigrant Families at the State House

– Monthly meeting of Smith Vocational and Agricultural School Trustees

– meet with local musician traveling to Africa on educational and musical exchange

– participate in climate change interview

– attend special city council meeting to discuss Best Practices report

– facilitate monthly department head meeting

– semi-monthly City Council meeting, where we’ll proclaim Family Literacy Month

– make time to walk – in preparation for the 6th Annual Hot Chocolate Walk and Run to benefit Safe Passage on December 5th

– and of course hold open office hours on Wednesdays from 4:00 – 6:00 (except on Veterans’ Day)

I have said it before, and truly, I do believe I have the best job in the world.  It’s an honor to work for Northampton every day, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to continue this work for another two years.

Clare Higgins