WESTFIELD – The Westfield City Council met for a regularly scheduled remote meeting on May 7 for a continued public hearing for the Big Y gas station and to discuss the upcoming Special Senate Election on May 19 and potential challenges with the fiscal year 2021 budget.
The first order of business at the meeting was a public hearing for a gas storage license for a Big Y gas station at 330 East Main St. Larry Webster, the representative for Big Y at the meeting, explained what the gas station would look like as part of the hearing.
“The project includes a small convenience store, about 2,000 square feet, six fueling dispensers and two in-ground storage tanks, and tangentially they are including electronic charging stations as the city had asked,” he said.
He added that the current plan has been deemed 75 to 100 percent complete by MassDOT and said they are expecting full approval in the next six to eight weeks.
Webster explained that the gas tanks would not pose any threat to the environment. He said, “It’s continuously monitored; if there is any leak it’s detected almost immediately within a matter of a day at most depending on the size of the leak.”
The council approved a motion to grant the gas storage license.
With the hearing out of the way the council then jumped into eight items for motions from the mayor’s office. The council began by accepting a donation and a CARES Act grant for the city’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic unanimously, before quickly approving the remaining six requests from the mayor’s office with little discussion.
After the council accepted a motion to designate one centralized polling location for the Special State Senate Election, Councilor Dave Flaherty recommended that they also put signs up to signal the polling location, which is Westfield’s South Middle School.
During the discussion, City Clerk Karen Fanion explained the process for residents who may not want to vote in person on May 19. “For anyone that does not want to go to the polling location, you can apply for an early ballot by going to www.cityofwestfield.org/vote and you can download the application right from our webpage,” she said.
She added that early voting applicants can mail the application into the City Clerk’s office, put their application in the drop box at City Hall, fax it to 564-3114 or email it to email@example.com.
The council also voted to reappoint both the city’s Purchasing Director Tammy Tefft and the Information Technology Manager Lenore Bernashe to new terms set to expire in July 2023.
For the final order of business at the meeting Councilors Flaherty and Ralph Figy brought forward a motion to create a Special Purpose Stabilization account for the school district after the two participated in a conference call with the schools and the mayor. “In our discussion, it was looking very bleak for the school side of the budget and the city side of the budget,” Figy said. “By creating this stabilization account it would allow the schools to refer back unspent money into an account that would then go back to the school to help offset the budget.”
Flaherty explained that putting the money aside would help the district with its budget planning for the 2021 Fiscal Year. “There is $400,000 left in this fiscal year that could be used for next fiscal year because next fiscal year is not looking so great. This puts the money aside and allows us to get to it quickly and release it back into the school budget,” he said.
Councilor James Adams expressed his concerns over creating the account and said, “That’s taxpayers’ money; if it’s not used in a certain budget, I don’t think we can put it in an account for something else next year. How do we put that to a specific fund for the next year as soon as it goes in? I don’t think that’s the right way to do it and I don’t think it’s the legal way to do it either.”
After a lengthy discussion, the council voted to approve the motion.
The Westfield City Council next meets on May 21.