Videos: Public Safety Meeting of 10/4/10; Sienkiewicz Summarizes Case for Police Station Tax Override

Here is a complete video of the 10/4/10 meeting of Northampton’s Public Safety Committee. City Councilors Angela Plassmann, David Murphy (chair), Jesse Adams and Maureen Carney attended. The meeting included an update from Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck and a speech from Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz on why a new downtown police station is needed. A tax override to help fund the new station will be on the November ballot.

The last portion of the meeting saw a discussion of an Open Meeting Law complaint filed by citizen Philip Brocklesby. He believes that the committee’s September 7 meeting was not properly posted to the public, and that a quorum of the committee held an improper discussion on the police station tax override after the meeting was adjourned. Two reporters were present for that discussion and you may view a video recording of it here.

The committee agreed that there were problems getting a correct announcement of the September 7 meeting up on the public bulletin board in the Puchalski Building, but this problem occurred after the committee gave proper prior notice of the meeting to staff in City Hall. The committee also believes it did not cross the line into deliberation of public business when speaking with reporters after the meeting adjourned, and that it’s acceptable for a quorum of a public body to answer questions from the media outside of an official meeting.

This video is 43 minutes long and was recorded by Adam Cohen.


Here is a 14-minute YouTube HD highlight of the speech from Chief Sienkiewicz describing the need for a new police station. The committee voted 3-0 to endorse the tax override for the station. Councilor Plassmann abstained because she feels her constituents are divided on the issue.

See also:

Email from City Clerk Wendy Mazza to Public Safety Committee and Mary L. Midura, executive secretary to the City Council (10/6/10)

To the Public Safety Committee,

The cancellation of the September Public Safety Committee that was posted on the bulletin board in the municipal building was never brought to the City Clerk’s Office for proper posting. By someone posting this on the bulletin board in the municipal building does not satisfy the open meeting law.

All meeting notices must be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office for proper posting.

Wendy Mazza
City Clerk
210 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060

Video: Public Safety Committee, September 7, 2010; Murphy, Adams, Carney Indicate Support for Police Station Tax Override
Although Councilor Adams notified the City Clerk about this meeting by the Thursday before–as required–there appear to have been problems getting notice to the public. The notice below was still on the official bulletin board at the Puchalski Building at the time of yesterday’s meeting:

MassLive: “Northampton schedules Proposition 2 1/2 override vote to determine future of new police station” (6/19/10)
Although some members expressed qualms about the potential spending, the City Council left it up to the voters Thursday to decide on a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion for a new police facility.

The $17 million project was set to go last year but the city dropped the project shortly before the scheduled ground-breaking when the national economy crashed. The currently used building, built in 1965, is a maze that fails to meet the needs of modern police work, according to police.

The council voted unanimously to put the $10 million override on the November ballot for voters to decide. A debt exclusion differs from a general override in that the amount of borrowing disappears from the tax base when the project is paid off. General overrides become a permanent part of the tax bill…

The override will be the subject of public forums before it goes on the ballot. According to Mayor Mary Clare Higgins’ calculations, it would add about $80 per year to the tax bill of the owner of a median priced house starting in 2014. The amount would gradually decrease after that. 

Design of New Police Station Wins Approval; CBAC Video (10/21/08)
Here is the Final Revised Front (Center Street) Elevation formally submitted to the CBAC. It also available as a 13MB PDF, and the Republican provides a good visualization in this article.

Police Station Building Committee