Ferrera announces new Special Committee on Residency
By Chris Mazachrism@thereminder.com
SPRINGFIELD City Council President James Ferrera announced his appointments to 17 committees, including a new Special Committee on Residency.
Ward 2 Councilor Michael Fenton will chair the sub-committee, which will also include Ward 7 Council Timothy Allen and Councilor at-Large Bud Williams.
"Residency is such an important issue in the city of Springfield that I think it is important to have a special committee with three individuals on it that would be able to look at the issue at hand, to look at what Worcester is doing, to look at what Boston is doing and to look at what other communities like Springfield are doing to handle residency in the Commonwealth and throughout the country," Ferrara said. "We're going to do a comprehensive review on residency and hopefully we will have a final product that the entire council can support."
Ferrera also announced the chairs for the seven standing committees as follows: Ward 1 Councilor Zaida Luna for General Government Committee, Williams for Planning and Economic Development, Allen for Human Services Committee, Councilor at-Large Thomas Ashe for the Public Health and Safety Committee, Ward 5 Councilor Clodovalo Concepcion for the Finance Committee, Councilor at-Large Kateri Walsh for Maintenance and Development Committee, Ward 8 Councilor and Council Vice President John Lysak for Intergovernmental/State and Federal Relations Committee.
Addressing special committees, Ferrera announced he will chair the Animal Control Committee and Green Committee.
Williams will also chair the School Building Committee and will take over the position of chair of the REO Committee from Ferrera.
Concepcion will also chair the Committee for Elder Affairs and Ward 4 Councilor E. Henry Twiggs serve as chair of the Audit Committee. Ward 6 Councilor Ken Shea chairs the Special Permit Review Committee.
Ashe and Shea will serve on the City Council/School Committee joint committee.
The Casino Site Committee will remain as previously constituted with former Police Chief Paula Meara as its chair.
"It's going to be a very exciting time here for the city of Springfield and a very trying time for the city of Springfield with a lot of work that still needs to be done," Ferrera said. "These individuals, we are very proud to have them chairing these committees. They dedicated a lot of interest in these committees and it's an honor to serve with such a dedicated group of councilors.
Ferrera also announced that the City Council would be revealing plans in the near future for the creation of a School Safety Committee.
When asked if any of the current or past committee assignments could be construed as punitive, Ferrera vehemently denied that assertion.
"That's a fallacy. No one ever gets punished on committee assignments," he said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done and we're going to do it. We have a great council here. I have faith and confidence in every member of this City Council and I am certain that every member has the best interests of the citizens of Springfield."
Ferrera also touted the council's diversity, addressing Concepcion's Cuban heritage, Luna's status as the first Latino woman on the council and Williams' leadership background and years of service on the council.
Williams said that his primary goals included efforts to "create a tax base in this city, spur economic development, meet with small businesses."
He added, "I'd like to take the time out to thank the president for all the work he has done the last year. I think he's done a real good job as president and the continued continuity with some committees is a great opportunity."
Concepcion pointed out several issues facing the city, ranging from casinos to the proposed new senior center, which he promised to continue fighting for.
"If you follow my record, I'm not afraid to work," he said. "If you come to Sixteen Acres, you can see my legacy is that I am someone who when he wants something, he gets it done."
Allen said he was happy to serve on multiple committees that he said "have important roles in things we are doing this year."
He commented, "I'm chairing the Human Services Committee and there are always library issues there and various issues that come up with the casino process."
Luna said that cooperation would be needed to take on the challenges the city faces and she is willing to work with anyone to come up with solutions.