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High tech, school takeover and historic buildings razed all of part of Holyoke’s 2015

Date: 12/30/2015

HOLYOKE – The Paper City saw a number of interesting developments in 2015

Jan. 16, 2015 HOLYOKE – The Essex House is about to be history in the Paper City.

Just before this edition went to press the majority of the building was down with only a part of facade still standing. A backhoe sat on top of the mound of wood and brick loading the debris into containers.

The question is now what will the city do with the soon to be empty lot.

Marcos Marrero, director of Planning and Economic Development, told Reminder Publications the city has “a few options.”

The city bought the lot behind the Essex House before demolition, which enlarges the size of the parcel that could be developed, he explained.

As of this edition, the parcel has yet to be redeveloped.

March 13, 2015 HOLYOKE – The release of the 2014 annual report for the Holyoke Innovation District lists both accomplishments and ambitions.

The annual meeting was conducted on March 4 and included an appearance by Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

The Holyoke Innovation District is a project of MassTech Collaborative and is a partnership between Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, City of Holyoke, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, Holyoke Community College, EDC of Western Mass, Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, UMass Amherst, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Holyoke Gas and Electric, MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.

Mayor Alex Morse said, “We are very excited about the Holyoke Innovation District Annual Meeting as it reflects a transition from planning for an innovation district to actually seeing it come to fruition. Holyoke is truly making its mark nationally as a small city that can play a big role in the innovation economy.”

March 27, 2015 HOLYOKE – About 100 students walked out of their classes at Holyoke High School at 9:15 a.m. on March 24 and walked to City Hall to show support for the city retaining control over its owns schools.

According to the press release issued by the students, the march was timed with a meeting of the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The release read: “Why do they think they know that’s best for us? Why do they think they can make decisions for us? They walk into our classrooms for one day and think they know us. They think that we don’t care about our education and it always comes back to stereotypes. Many of us are people of color; that makes them think that we don’t care; this is racism. Our intelligence shouldn’t be based off of a test; the test does not define us. We deserve more.”

The state did take over the city’s schools, despite protests from any Holyokers.

June 19, 2015 HOLYOKE – Almost immediately after the flags and lectern had been cleared and the elected officials were out of the way, the vehicles flowed across the newly renovated Willimansett Bridge.

There were not just a few, but a continual line of traffic in both directions with drivers waving and honking their horns.

July 17, 2015 HOLYOKE – For years, Celebrate Holyoke was one of the Paper City’s signature events and this year after a decade long break it is coming back.

Executive Director Sigrid von Wendel explained to Reminder Publications the return was the hope of Mayor Alex Morse who proposed having a summer city event last year.

“It seems like a good time to bring it back,” she said of the 10 years since the last festival.

Planning has started for next year’s event.

Sept. 4, 2015 HOLYOKE – Easily one of the most unique buildings in the city with one of the most interesting histories was demolished on Aug. 31. The Bud at 30 John St. is now just a memory.

After years of being on a demolition list, as well as being the subject of efforts to save it, the three-story brick building came down in a day with an estimated two days to sort out recyclable materials and clean up the site,

Holyoke Historical Commission chair Olivia Mausel said the decline of the building was due to “benign neglect.”

Patrick J. Murray bought the building in 1903 and by 1913 it was known as “The Bud,” due to the tavern being the first local distributor of Anheuser-Busch beer.