|Holly, Steve and Chrisoula|
|City Councilors Zaida Luna & Jose Tosado- Tim Allen also present|
A few weeks ago, I got a call from a woman in Indian Orchard who has been on our mailing list for a number of years. She said she'd gotten a notice from the City's Planning Board about a proposed zone change from Residence B to Commercial A in her neighborhood. The notice read as follows: "Notice is hereby given that the Planning Board will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm. in Room 220 of City Hall for all those interested in a zone change from residence B to Industrial A at the property known as ES Parker St (09510-1894). Owner and petitioner: City of Springfield. By order of the City Planning Board, Katie Stebbins, Chairperson. Information may be viewed at the Planning/Eco Dev Dept., 70 Tapley St. (413) 787-6020."
Not a lot of info, right? And you'd have to be pretty pro-active to actually go to the Planning Dept. to see what the proposal is. On top of that, the zoning change notice was only delivered to households with 300 feet of the proposed zone change.
The woman I heard from, however, knew exactly what property was being discussed: a piece of Hubbard Park, owned by the city, would be given over to expand the parking lot of Unifirst Uniforms, right next door.
The "Industrial A" designation caught my eye, because I've been told that the City of Springfield has no say over what is done or developed with "Industrial A"-- which is supposed to be why it was easy for Palmer Renewable Energy to move its proposal for the biomass plant we've been fighting at the existing Palmer Paving site.
I went over to Parker St. to take pictures and see what my contact was talking about. Apparently Unifirst only wants about 10 feet of land and intends to put up a concrete wall between the parking lot and the remainder of the property.
|Back entrance to Barrows Park|
I may have more to say about Unifirst in a later post, but I hope one thing is obvious: if the Planning Board wants real citizen participation in in local decisions, it's going to have to do a better job in informing the community-- better notices, better descriptions of what's really going on-- maybe some photos to accompany the notice?