City Council approves mayor’s orders, marijuana rule change

April 22, 2020 | Dennis Hackett

WESTFIELD – The Westfield City council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on April 16 to approve four orders from Mayor Don Humason, to approve stricter restrictions on marijuana establishments, and to discuss establishing a Department of Facilities.

The first order of business at the meeting was to accept for different appropriation requests from the mayor, the first of which was a request for $16,752 for an incentive payment from Westfield Gas and Electric for green lighting projects.

The second was an approval for $1,350,917.26 to pay down the Bond Anticipation Note related to water treatment that is due on June 12. The third was a request for an appropriation of $175,000 for drainage repairs at Crescent Circle.

The final request was for $500 from Free Cash for legal ad costs. The Council unanimously approved all the requests.

The next order of business was a request to transfer $113,821.66 from the DPW Water Division’s undesignated fund to make the first payment for a bond. Councilor Ralph Figy said, “This is the first payment on a bond that was issued after the 2020 budget was ratified and sent in so it wasn’t in the budget, but the bond payment is coming due and this is how it will be paid.”

The council unanimously approved the request to pay the bond.

The council then quickly approved a request to renew the annual Junk Dealer and Junk Collector licenses for a litany of businesses, which it approved with little discussion.

Under old business, the council finally wrapped up the ongoing petition from the Planning Board to strengthen regulation of marijuana establishments within 500 feet of a park. With little discussion, the council approved the motion.

One of the largest orders of business at the meeting was two motions to create a stand-alone department for the Department of Facilities and to create a job description for the Director of Facilities. While much of the council was against approving the motions in their current states, Councilor Bill Onyski said that they should come up with suggestions for the description if they rejected it at the meeting. He said, “If we reject the job description, we should do so with a list of suggestions and questions that need to be answered, and it can come back exactly as it is, or it could come back with the suggestions. Timing wise it might be an issue, but we have that choice.”

Councilor Dave Flaherty also voiced his concerns over the current job description and said, “So as written this sounds like a good thing, but as discussed in this call, it sounds like the stuff that’s written is not gonna happen. It says this person oversees cleaning maintenance and schools, we were just told no, the superintendent and the principals get to do that.”

Councilor James Adams then said it would be a lot of work to do to establish the department but it is necessary. “There’s a lot of things that need to be done and it needs to happen. Our buildings are in bad shape and they have been for a long time and we have to get things back on their feet again in a lot of these buildings,” he said.

Ultimately the council tabled the job description motion to the next meeting after rejecting the motion to create the department.

The Westfield City Council next meets on May 7.

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