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City Council eliminates residency requirement

Aug. 8, 2014 | By G. Michael Dobbs

CHICOPEE – To have a city job, you no longer have to work in the city.
The City Council eliminated the city’s controversial residency clause from the charter at the recommendation of Mayor Richard Kos at its Aug. 5 meeting.
In his briefing before the meeting, Kos called the requirement as it was written in the charter “ambiguous.”
The now deleted message read, “No person shall be eligible to any of the offices of city government except superintendent of schools, city solicitor and city engineer unless he is a citizens and has been a resident of the city for at least two years.”
In discussing the action, City Councilor John Vieau said the city shouldn’t have to force its employees to live here, but rather would hope they would want to live in Chicopee. He added the residency clause as it was written was “antiquated language.”
City Councilor James Tillotson explained the phrase “two years” was not explicit enough, as the language did not describe when or how the two years should take place.  Tillotson added the council and the mayor are now free to reconsider any residency requirements with the creation of a new ordinance.
The council approved the deletion unanimously.
The council approved the appropriation of $60,710 for the redesign of the intersections on both sides of the Deady Bridge. The Commonwealth is going to pay for the construction and Councilor Robert Zygarowski said before the vote, “We’ve got to do it.” He called the traffic issues on both ends of the bridge “horrendous.”
Tillotson said he was dating himself, but he described changing lanes on the bridges like riding the “Dodge-em cars at Riverside.”
He added, “Anything’s going to be an improvement. It’s a nightmare.”
Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeffrey Neece told the council the construction job would go out to bid something this fall and the construction would start in October or November. It would stop for winter and pickup next spring with the anticipated completion during late summer 2015.
The council also approved an appropriation of $5,000 that will be used as part of a fundraising campaign to purchase playground equipment for Nash Park. Councilor Timothy McLellan explained that by the city contributing $5,000 it would receive $20,000 through the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s Kaboom! program and be part of an on-line fundraising effort.
The council readily approved a motion to formally accept Lucy Wisniowski Park as a park, a legal requirement that had not been done in the past.

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