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Time for urban fauna to return

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

I look forward to spring. I enjoy seeing the shoots of plants in the garden pop up. I enjoy the warmer temperatures. I like being awakened by the birds.

Of course, I don't look forward to certain urban fauna. There's the "play-my-car-stereo-so-loud-it-shakes-people's fillings-guy." About this time he emerges from hibernation.

Then there's his close cousin, the "drag-my-stereo-out-to-the-back-yard-so- everyone-can-hear-my-trashy-music" guy. I think their other cousin is the "let-me-drop-the-f-word-and-the-m-f-word-bombs-as-I-walk-by-your-open-window" guy. Oh he's a prince.

And then there are the folks who love wildlife more than me that they keep the lid to their trash can open all the time. Here's a Ranger Mike tip: Raccoons live in the city and they love garbage 3 a.m. and again at 4 a.m.

A closed lid stops them from having a noisy meal.

It's funny that none of these urban animals is in any of my wildlife guides. They do make city living more wild, though and not in a good sense.


If it's spring then it also must be election time in the Pioneer Valley. We have a number of incumbents running for mayor and so far only Springfield has got a real race.

Someone might decide to challenge guys such as Richard Sullivan in Westfield or Michael Sullivan in Holyoke. Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette will soon announcing his re-election effort and he might have an opponent in Christopher Desmarteau who has taken out nomination papers.

But Springfield is leading the way in strong elections with long-time City Councilor Domenic Sarno declaring his campaign to unseat Charles Ryan.

This will be an interesting race as both men as well liked and have had many years of public service.

Sarno sat down with me for an interview after his announcement speech and what he didn't say was as important as what he said.

In speaking about economic development, Sarno said the Urban Land Institute (ULI) report told us things we already knew, however he didn't tell the whole story about some key projects.

When speaking about the Gemini site in the South End where a devastating fire left a heap of rubble, Sarno did not add that the Ryan administration had moved forward on the Gemini project by lobbying the Finance Control Board for the funding for the clean up of the former factory. It was one of the first things the Control Board did and Sarno was on that Board.

The York Street Jail was a problem inherited by the Ryan Administration. The Albano Administration had placed the jail up for sale and had issued requests for proposals for its development without success. Because of the city's fiscal crisis, the funding for demolition was not in place until this year. The jail is to be brought down this summer.

The Ryan Administration was forced by state law to require the Picknelly family, who were to develop the 31 Elm St. property, to pay back taxes on the property. The previous mayoral administration had made an arrangement so back taxes would not have to be paid. The call for payment put a halt to the redevelopment.

The strength of the ULI report is that it prioritized development projects and put them in a context that called in conventional wisdom: develop housing in your city center to stabilize it; retail will follow.

The report simply didn't tell us what we already knew as Sarno asserted.

The opinions expressed here are only those of the author.