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Council starts 2016 term

Date: 1/8/2016

CHICOPEE – Members of the City Council questioned several proposed expenditures at the Jan. 5 meeting.

It was the first meeting with a new council president, John Vieau and the first full meeting with new councilors William Courchesne replacing George Moreau in Ward 7 and Stan Walczak replacing Gerry Roy in Ward 9.

Councilors approved an allocation $95,000 to pay for additional legal services to represent the city in talks with Michelin concerning the further cleanup of the Uniroyal/Facemate site.

Mayor Richard Kos, during his briefing, expressed optimism on how the discussions were going, but noted the city’s Law Department required the extra funds to pay for the services of Lou Moore, an attorney specializing in environmental matters.

Although the council also approved paying Waste Management $38,864.07 for the pickup of trash in Doverbook Estates, it sparked a discussion on why a private hauler is being hired to pick up trash there instead of the city. Kos explained this practice is a carry-over from past administrations and it is his intent to “phasing in” city services.

Councilor James Tillotson asked when the contract between Waste Management would be concluded. “I’d like to get rid of it,” he said.

Tillotson also questioned the expense of $32,715 to pay for the physical and psychological test for the 13 Chicopee cadets for the next Police Academy.

The mayor explained the test was not just standard health testing, but included much more. At the suggestion of several councilors, Kos said he would be happy to have the Department of Human Resources “shop it around” to see if there is a less expensive alternative.

The council approved the allocation.

Councilor Gerald Roy also questioned the expense of $6,600 to pay for the court-ordered cleanup what the mayor called “a problem property” at 340 Grattan St. and asked that in the future if the council could see a “more detailed” estimate.

“Six thousand, six hundred dollars is a lot of money to clean up a yard,” he said. Lisa Sanders, the director of the city’s Health Department, had supplied the council with photos of the property that showed piles of debris and trash in the drive way and yards of the home.

Tillotson asked of the cost of the cleanup had been applied to a lien to the property and was told it had. Once the property is sold, the city would recover the expense.

The council also approved a motion that would allow them to accept up to $400,000 for the repairs and renovation to the Ray Ash pool. Kos explained the cost of the work would be up to $2 million and if the council approved accepting the states grant the city could recoup $400,000.

Kos explained the council was not voting on the design of the new pool, but had to take the vote that night to make sure the city would be eligible for the $400,000. The council approved the measure.

Walczak praised the Planning and Parks and Recreation departments for their collective efforts in obtaining this grant, which he called highly competitive.