Petition: “Let’s start anew on the hotel”

The following petition is now being circulated:

Let’s start anew on the hotel                                                                                                                 01-07-10

We are writing to enlist your support for a petition to the Mayor and the City Council regarding construction of a Hilton Garden Inn in the Pulaski Park/Round House area. Specifically, the petition asks the Mayor and the City Council for two actions:

      First, to not extend the deadline for the developer to come up with the required funds for the project beyond February 15, the latest established deadline.

      Second, to develop a process for determining how the land can best be used and designed based on good practices and full public participation.

As we all know, the plan to build this hotel has been controversial since its inception two years ago. It precipitated a major public outcry at the time the proposal reached the Planning Board, and resulted in expensive lawsuits, which the city settled out of court. Now, two years later, the developer has not secured the funds or performance guarantees necessary to begin construction. A number of deadlines have been extended. We think it is time to bring this project to a close.

Allowing the agreement to expire would enable the city to develop a new process for deciding the future of this site. The undersigned are not opposed to developing the site but rather want to see it developed in a manner that maximizes its value to the whole community. The Pulaski Park/Round House lot lies at the very center of our city, and should become a jewel in the crown of downtown Northampton – a Center that serves our residents, visitors, arts communities, and businesses. We need to develop a workable vision for this site. A carefully designed process that generates a wide range of ideas and public buy-in will provide the groundwork for a successful project going forward.

The project may not reach fruition in the short-term, given the present economy. But the land has essentially lain idle for decades, and the Hilton Garden Inn project has not gotten off the ground either. We can do better as a City than remain in this limbo by continuing to extend deadlines – we can seek a new direction for this site.

If prior to Feb.15 the developer manages to raise the funds and guarantees needed, then we will have no case; but if not, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard on this matter. The Mayor has indicated that she intends to consult with the City Council prior to further extensions to the developer. This is our chance to urge our City Councilors, and through them, the Mayor, to revisit the project and start anew.

Will you help us to do this? We need you to send e-mails to your contacts who live in Northampton, to talk with people about this initiative, to get as many names as possible on the petition. It all has to be done by January 18 as the next City Council meeting is January 21 – plenty of time if we get going right away.

Here’s what is required:

Click on the following link. It will take you to an on-line petition that you can sign:

  1. It is important that when signing the online petition, you add your Ward number if you know it in the Comments section immediately below your email address so that your Ward Councilor can be made aware of the number of people in his or her Ward who have signed.

  2. Forward this e-mail to everybody you can think of who might wish to join this petition.

  3. Let us know any additional ideas you have about making our voices heard on this matter.
Together we might just make a real difference here!

With best regards,

Joan Cenedella
Frances Crowe
Mary Ford
Alex Ghiselin
Mari Gottdiener
Joel Russell
Gordon Thorne
Fran Volkmann
Penny Burke

See also:

Northampton Office of Planning and Development: Proposed Hilton Garden Inn

Gazette: “Extension for hotel gives new council a look” (12/30/09)
The extension of the purchase-and-sale agreement is one of several the city has granted to the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group of Ludlow. The family-owned company gained approval more than two years ago to build an estimated $14 million, 112-room Hilton Garden Inn and parking garage behind Pulaski Park. The latest deadline expires Thursday.

The mayor is giving the company until Feb. 15 to close the deal.

One financing issue is the city’s requirement of a $12 million performance guarantee for the project. The Parmar family, which owns the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, said last week that lining up financing has been difficult in the current economy…

Earlier this month, Laxman S. Parmar, chief executive officer of the hotel group, told the Gazette his family has invested about $1.3 million in the planned hotel development and is continuing to work with bonding companies to meet the city’s demands.

Video: Best Practices Workshop Evaluates Public Forum; Hotel Decision-Making Process Scrutinized; Wanting More from Local Media (2008)
The committee members discuss the controversial decision-making process involving the downtown Hilton Garden Inn hotel. Some frustration with local media is expressed–especially with the Daily Hampshire Gazette–for not giving the matter enough coverage early on.

Best Practices: Pictures and Video from the May 13 Public Forum (2008)