Mayor’s Email Update – 3.7.10

The office of Mayor Clare Higgins has just released this update:

Mayor’s Email Update – 3.7.10

In this update:

  • City of Northampton Honored as Hometown Hero
  • Rezoning Forum rescheduled
  • Northampton Receives Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant
  • City Receives Common Cause Award – With Distinction!
  • Northampton Employees garner praise
  • Understanding Recycling Regulations

City of Northampton Honored as Hometown Hero
On Thursday March 11th [at 7:30am, see link] it will be my very great honor to represent the City of Northampton at the annual Hometown Heroes Award dinner for the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.  The Hometown Heroes award generally singles out for recognition individuals whose quick thinking and selfless action helped to save the life of a neighbor in need.  This year, they are taking the unusual step of recognizing an entire Hometown.  Northampton is being recognized for our community’s extraordinary response to the unprecedented spate of arson fires which struck our city on December 27th.  It was no easy time to be Mayor, to bear witness to the pain and loss, the sadness and confusion of that night and the days and weeks that followed.  Within hours, however, the tenor of Northampton’s response became clear.  Through Facebook connections, chance meetings in grocery stores, from local businesses, artists, school-based groups and houses of worship came the single message: We are here to help. Count us in.  I sat in my office with a half dozen community members who formed the core of the Northampton Neighbors Relief Fund effort and thought how extraordinary this was, and yet it was not anything more than what I have come to expect from Northampton.  Donations mounted within days, and goal after goal was met and surpassed.  Hundreds of people who have never met Paul Yeskie or his son stood in line patiently to stand in solidarity with their family in their grief. It has been said that moments of crisis do not so much create character as reveal it.  And in the hours and weeks that followed that harrowing night, Northampton’s character as a caring, united, supportive, healthy, proactive and protective community was revealed.  It will be with great humility and profound respect for all of our neighbors who contributed in ways great and small to our community’s moment of crisis that I will accept the 2010 Special Recognition Hometown Heroes Award.  I have been deeply changed and will be always grateful for the support and companionship of this community through this time.

Rezoning Forum rescheduled
In February, the Zoning Revisions Committee had to cancel its public forum in the face of a heavy snow and slush storm. The public forum, Rezoning Northampton for a Sustainable Future, will be held on March 17th at the Northampton High School’s Little Theater from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  I encourage anyone who is interested to attend this important meeting. For more information, please visit the city’s website:

Northampton Receives Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant
We had good news last month from the Commonwealth’s department of Energy Resources.  Northampton has been awarded an Energy Efficiency Block Grant in the amount of $150,000 for performance contracting. This will help the city work with an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to design and implement measures which will increase our energy efficiency and conserve local resources.  My thanks to the Central Services staff who wrote the application for this grant which will help us move closer to our Sustainable Northampton vision.

City Receives Common Cause Award – With Distinction!
Since our website was redesigned earlier this decade, the City has consistently won the Common Cause e-Government Award.  This year, I am very proud to announce that Northampton will again receive the e-government Award – this time With Distinction, putting us in an elite group of cities and towns whose websites have been judged to provide the public with a breadth and depth of information which makes our city’s government accessible and accountable to the public.  I am very proud of how our departments have embraced the use of the website and will be very honored to add another plaque to our office wall.  Employees throughout the city work hard every day to serve the public responsibly and effectively.  It is very gratifying to have our commitment to transparent and accountable government recognized.  I encourage you to check out the city website if you have not already ( to see just how much information you can find there.  If you are interested in the criteria Northampton had to meet in order to receive the Common Cause Award With Distinction, visit their website, here:  The city’s webmaster, who works in my office, has worked hard this year to help ensure we met all the measures to achieve this award. 

Northampton Employees garner praise
It is one of the great perks of my job that I get to meet and work with scores of city employees who are absolutely dedicated to serving our community and who bring enthusiasm, professionalism and pride to the work.  Occasionally, our employees are recognized outside of our city for their good work, and I am pleased to highlight two such distinctions today.  Recently retired Police Captain Kenneth Patenaude’s work on the NPD continues to influence the best practices of policing nationwide. A recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court cited Captain Patenaude’s work in its decision.  Capt. Patenaude joined The Innocence Network and others with Friend of the Court Briefings about the problem of mistaken eyewitness identification which may lead to wrongful imprisonments.  On the school side, JFK Middle School teacher Dr. Nancy Cheevers, a reading specialist,  has received the National Education Foundation’s award for Teaching Excellence.  In April, she will travel to Washington to receive her award.  I know you will share my appreciation for their good work and for the dedication and professionalism they have brought to their work for many years. 

Understanding Recycling Regulations
We have had some questions recently about what  has been perceived as changes in recycling procedures at the Transfer Station and Landfill as employees there have been inspecting more bags of plastic recycling to educate residents about what materials can and cannot be recycled.  The city’s recycling is taken to the Springfield MRF (Material Recycling Facility) – one of 78 cities and towns to do so. The MRF’s recycling rules, therefore, become ours.  In short, not all plastic is recyclable. and we cannot rely solely on the number system anymore. For instance, in Western Massachusetts, the only market for #1 and #2 plactics are “bottle with a neck”.  This is ALL that the MRF’s market will accept.  Other containers (clamshells, single serve cereal containers, etc) are made in a different way and can contaminate the recycling stream.  Some of us who have been recycling clamshells, black plastics, or other items may not be happy to know their recycling has actually ended up in another landfill after sorting at the MRF.  For anyone interested in a more in-depth discussion of this issue, here is one good treatment:

You can also contact our neighbors at GreenNorthampton to request a garbage audit for your home!

Thank you for taking the time to read this email update.  As always, you can contact my office with your questions and concerns or stop by my open office hours any Wednesday from 4:00 – 6:00.

See also:

Mayor’s Email Update – 2.9.10

Mayor’s Email Update: How To Help, Where To Give (12/31/09)

Mayor’s Email Update – 11.10.09