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Town clerk, storm spending get council OK

Date: 11/15/2011

Nov. 16, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Town Council approved the appointment of a new Town Clerk — just in time for the Nov. 8 elections — alleviated a longstanding parking problem and addressed disaster clean up at its Nov. 7 meeting.

By a vote of 8-0, the council reaffirmed the choice of its Town Clerk Search Committee and approved the appointment of Otto Frizzell as the new Town Clerk of West Springfield, filling the position left void by the Sept. 30 retirement of Diane Foley.

At Large City Councilor Robert Mancini was absent for this and all other votes that evening.

Mayor Edward Gibson performed a swearing-in ceremony for Frizzell in the City Council chambers immediately following the vote. As part of the ceremony, Gibson recalled how Frizzell had expressed an interest in some day serving in the capacity of town clerk for a municipality while interning in his office.

Also by a vote of 8-0, the council approved an amendment to the parking ordinance involving Lathrop Street, allowing residents, church members, as well as parents and staff of the Make Way for Ducklings Nursery School and Kindergarten to park on the side of that street adjacent to the First Congregational Church.

District 1 Town Councilor Angus Rushlow thanked Town Council President Kathleen Bourque “for putting together a team to look at this,” adding that the provisions in the amended ordinance “should satisfy everyone in town.”

First Congregational Church spokesperson Latimier Eddy also addressed the council to thank the members who had worked to amend the parking ordinance, passed in December of 2009, that originally prohibited parking on the church side of the [one-way] street, forcing parishioners who drive to services and clients of the Make Way for Ducklings school to exit their cars against the opposite curb.

Eddy pointed out at the Oct. 18 Town Council meeting, as originally written, the ordinance posed a safety issue for elderly parishioners and the parents of young children who frequented the nursery school, particularly during the winter months.

“This shows that democracy is alive and well in West Springfield,” Eddy said of the vote to amend the ordinance.

Town councilors also approved a request by Gibson for deficit spending in the wake of the Oct. 29 snowstorm.

“Here I am, for the second time in five months to ask for expenditures above appropriations,” Gibson said, as he asked he council to approve cleanup spending under Chapter 44, Section 31 of Massachusetts General Law (MGL).

MGL, Chapter 44, Section 33 reads, “No department financed by municipal revenue, or in whole or in part by taxation, of any city or town, except Boston, shall incur a liability in excess of the appropriation made for the use of such department, each item recommended by the mayor and voted by the council in cities, and each item voted by the town meeting in towns, being considered as a separate appropriation, except in cases of major disaster, including, but not limited to, flood, drought, fire, hurricane, earthquake, storm or other catastrophe, whether natural or otherwise, which poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of persons or property, and then only by a vote in a city of two-thirds of the members of the city council, and in a town by a majority vote of all the selectmen.”

Gibson said not only would the town face increased operating costs because of the storm; it would also be faced with unforeseen expenses to clear debris from streets and public ways.

“This is really going to make the tornado look like a walk in the park,” Gibson said of the debris removal efforts, adding that the project, for which the town has contracted the services of AshBritt Environmental Inc., was expected to take “four to six weeks.” He estimated the post-storm cleanup costs to reach “$4 to 5 million.”

Gibson indicated he was expecting assessors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arrive shortly, and begin evaluating West Springfield’s potential for federal disaster reimbursement, but “for the health and safety of our residents, I did not want to wait on this.”

The council gave its approval to Gibson by a vote of 8-0 for necessary deficit spending to provide storm cleanup services.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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