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Mayor Knapik calls state of city 'sound'

Date: 2/15/2011

Feb. 16, 2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — Mayor Daniel Knapik wanted those in attendance of his State of the City Address to know that Westfield is "setting the standards, not following them."

The phrase was a theme repeated throughout his address, attended by more than 50 people at the Council on Aging on Feb. 10.

"The last 12 months have been nothing short of exciting, humbling, engaging and yes, frustrating at times," Knapik said. "But I am here to today to report that because of the hard work and dedication of our residents, employees throughout the city and our partners in government — U.S. Sens. [John] Kerry and [Scott] Brown, Congressman [John] Olver, Gov. [Deval] Patrick, Lt. Gov. [Timothy] Murray, State Sen. [Michael] Knapik, State Rep. [Donald] Humason, and the city council — the state of the city is sound."

The mayor highlighted the city's progress on various fronts including renewable energy, infrastructure repairs, fiscal management, economic development and creating proposals for new city and school buildings.

He noted the Request for Proposals is out for the development of a solar energy power farm on the capped city landfill; the design of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail has been funded; and the city-owned dog shelter has been created. He added the city is working with state agencies to gain funding for a new downtown elementary school and Council on Aging.

Knapik said Westfield would see many more improvements this year, including an "aggressive repaving program" downtown and "the development of the long-dormant Elm Street Development Project."

"For the past decade, the plans that have been discussed looked at it as a major intermodal transportation center. Well, today I am announcing that we have obtained a grant to finish the environmental work that was never finished all those years ago. This work has been underway for the last two months and I expect the results soon," he explained. "I also would like to announce that while there will be a portion of the site dedicated to transportation; I am hopeful that the majority of the site will be designed for commercial development."

Knapik promised the citizens of Westfield his further commitment to eight principles of leadership: "continue to provide the best educational opportunities to our children; make our community safe and secure; continued openness and transparency throughout our entire government system; continue truth in budgeting to fund your priorities; think and act with creativity about business growth and retention and downtown development; continue to rebuild infrastructure; support cultural art and entertainment venues; [and] provide public services and personnel management based on best practices."

Westfield resident Laura Covel said she was pleased with Knapik's leadership and was happy to see progress made on several city projects including the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. However, she noted her concern regarding the lack of adequate parking downtown and dilapidated facades of downtown buildings.

"I think the mayor laid out in his speech an excellent recap and [forecast] of what will be in the coming months," Humason said. "I'm very exciting about partnering with the mayor and the city council to see these projects come to fruition."

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