Chicopee City Council approves funding for infrastructure improvements

Oct. 13, 2020 | G. Michael Dobbs

CHICOPEE – Approvals of a number of mayoral orders supporting the city’s infrastructure were the highlight of last week’s City Council meeting.

The council approved $691,884 for use in developing the new Front Street Municipal Parking lot. Councilor Fred Krampits explained the allocation would be used to connect the existing municipal lots on Front Street into one large parking lot with landscaping to prevent water run-off.

Councilor Derek Dobosz objected to the allocation at this time as he called it “a lot of money”that will be used at a time of financial uncertainty due to the pandemic. He called for the order to be sent to finance.

Councilor James Tillotson also questioned the amount of money in the order, but supported the measure because “everyone complains about the lack of parking downtown.”

He added, “We’ve been talking about it for 20 years.”

Funding of $295,000 to be used for the planning stage of the removal of PCBs in the original wading pool at Rivers Park was also approved. Mayor John Vieau said the chemical must be removed which is now under the present spray park. He added there is no danger to the public, but the chemical has to be removed from the soil and the spray park will be replaced.

The council approved $300,000 for sewage pump station repairs that is a part of a $6 million project overhaul of the city’s waste water treatment plant.

In his briefing, Vieau noted the city has received $1.126 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security that will be used to hire additional firefighters.

The council also approved the acceptance of a $121,586 JAG grant from the Massachusetts Department of Justice. Council Robert Zygarowski explained the fund will be used to buy equipment.

The council approved a transfer of $16,515 in insurance money to the fund designated to be used to the purchase of new police cruiser is needed.

The council considered $39,803 for a truck at the municipal golf course. Councilor William Courchesne called for the matter to referred to the finance committee for greater scrutiny, a move supported by Council Frank Laflamme who questioned the use of a new vehicle and wondered if the present one could still be used for a task such as plowing snow.

Laflamme also questioned why an outside vendor would be given use of the truck in questions and be allowed to bring it home. He explained there is nothing in the contract with the vendor that specified the use of the truck. By law, he noted, only the mayor and the council can approve someone taking a city vehicle home.

Tillotson said, “I think that issue ought be resolved before we buy that truck.”

The matter was referred to the Finance Committee.

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