December 29: Ward 3 Neighborhood Association To Hold Open Meeting Regarding Fires

From the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association:

To: Members of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association
Re: Open Meeting About Ward 3 Fires
From: Jerry Budgar, President

The board of the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association will be holding an open meeting for residents of the ward regarding the recent fires on Tuesday night, December 29, at 7 p.m. at the World War II Club on Conz Street. The club has donated the use of its main function room for us to hold this meeting, and for this we are very grateful.

There are a number of topics we would like to raise and hear residents’ thoughts. In some cases we might be able to begin implementation of ideas and proposals on Tuesday night, and we hope folks will volunteer to become involved. Among the items on the agenda are:

  • Ways to assist the victims of the fires
  • Organizing a Ward 3 Watch. (Member Arnie Levinson has information to share).
  • Pursuing some type of group discount program for purchase of motion detector lights. Arnie has info on this to share also.
  • Discussing an increase in the reward fund. (I’ve already had people asking to make additional contributions to get it beyond the $5,000 initially offered).
  • Discussing protective measures residents can take.
While these have been stressful and difficult days for Ward 3, one positive element is the willingness of our residents to come together in time of crisis. I’ve had an incredible response from the ward. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing. State Rep. Peter Kocot called to ask what he could do to assist, and he will come to the meeting to see what resources he might be able to access for us. Several city councillors have asked what they could do and said they’d back the use of every appropriate city resource to bring this investigation to successful conclusion. Many people have called or emailed suggestions and ideas and volunteered to help in any way necessary. It’s been this way for the past two days. When the chips are down, Ward 3 comes through, folks, and we want to channel the resources and talents of our people into constructive programs that enhance our safety and security.

If you have comments or suggestions, I can be reached at: or at 584-2964. Thank you for all you’ve done and all you will do for our friends and neighbors in this difficult time.

Jerry Budgar,

See also:

Northampton Media: “Mayor Higgins Sends Message to the Residents of Northampton” (12/28/09)
I want to assure you that we are making all city resources available to protect our citizens and our community at this time. The Governor, the District Attorney’s Office, the State Fire Marshall and officials in neighboring communities have all pledged support as the investigation continues to find the person or persons responsible for these fires.

Northampton Media: “Northampton Fires: Photographer Paul Shoul Chronicles The Aftermath” (12/28/09)

Northampton Redoubt: “Fighting back against an arsonist” (12/28/09)
Essentially the city is held captive and the stone-faced press conference attended by Governor Patrick did little to quell my concerns or those of my neighbors as arsonists are not frequently apprehended…

The city needs ideas that might help. For instance the University of Massachusetts Public Safety Department operates an emergency text messaging service on its campus of twenty-five thousand plus students. Like Twitter, those registered receive up to the minute text alerts when danger is lurking on campus. Northampton could try something similar which would assist in alerting people of pending danger during sleeping hours, etc…

CNN: “Massachusetts authorities investigating spate of suspicious fires” (12/28/09)

Springfield Republican: “Full ‘Hamp fire coverage”

Gazette: “‘Fear, fury’ in Ward 3 over fires” (12/29/09)
“Unless you told me exactly what (the officials) were doing, I’d have no idea,” said [John] Van de Graaff [of Union Street]. “They’ve got to pull out all the stops on this. The authorities have to take it more seriously now.”

Boston Globe (AP): “Mass. fires: Set by thrill-seekers or villain?” (12/28/09)

Ward 3 City Councilor-elect Angela Plassmann: Press Release on the Fires (12/28/09)

Fires Strike Downtown Neighborhoods; Two Die (12/27/09)