Friends of the Canalwalk Meeting Minutes
CANALWALK MEETING MARCH 13, 2008
Exploratory meeting was held to find out who might be interested in formalizing a group to support the construction of the Holyoke Canalwalk. For those who were unable to attend, Craig Della Penna presented an inspirational overview of similar projects, completed and in process, rural and urban, which we could emulate. One basic message was the importance of a bottom-up model for these projects to progress effectively. So we would like to schedule another meeting to form a working group to decide on next steps, plan effective strategies, make ourselves visible in the community, improve communication within the city and move the canalwalk project along in a positive way. We hope to meet for 90 minutes and would encourage others to email us with suggestions and items that they would like to put on the agenda. We have some agenda ideas and will send a group email with an updated version before the next meeting.
CANALWALK MEETING APRIL 24, 2008
Present: Bruce Fowler, Nancy Sachs (note taker), Maggie Bergin, Kari Gatzke, Carlos Vega, Sandra Mongeon, Sandy Ward, Judy Sherman, Kate Thibodeau, Nona Hatay, Elaine Pluta, Octavia Mackay, Denis Luzuriaga, Marjorie Latham, Craig Della Penna, Cynthia Sommer, E. Denis Walsh, Tim Purington, Pat Duffy, John Kaminsky, Ed Toole
Welcome and introductions. Maggie Bergin gives presentation on CanalWalk Project (see presentation outline below.) She distributes handouts with explanations of project players: City of Holyoke (project leader), Tigh and Bond (engineering design firm) and MassHighway (administrators of the funding for project). She outlines the 5 important steps of the approval process necessary to get a transportation project to bid.
She notes that as of late March there was some discrepancy between the City and the Mass Highway Department as to the current design phase. In conversation, MassHighway indicated to her that Phase Ia is at 75%. Office of Planning and Dev has been led to understand the project is at 100%. At this point the project has been assigned a project number and a project manager. One attendee shares that she has had a conversation with Mayor Sullivan who mentioned that the project was out to bid.
There is some group discussion and questions asked: Why can’t City and State get this thing going? Can the funds be lost/taken away? Has there been interest earned on the $5.8 million over 10 years? What are the obstacles to the next phase(s) of the project ? Discussion of easements and eminent domain as a historical problem since project’s inception. Another attendee shares some historical info: The influence of Ted Kennedy in obtaining original funding and the bankruptcy of the original design firm. Remarks that the City Council has been behind the project 100%. The need for public support is noted.
Another attendee mentions a range of time frames for similar projects: 3-22 years.
Group is given task of brainstorming specific activities to support the CanalWalk Project and move the project forward. After all ideas are noted, each group member is given a pen and asked to place a mark next to their top three actions.
After tallying votes, most popular actions are: 1. Meet with Mayor and/or Kathy Anderson. 2) CanalWalk tabling at farmer's market. 3) A walking tour of project. (refer to attachment for complete list)
In the close of the meeting, the group decides they would like to include two activities in next meeting: 1) Invite City's Economic Development Department director to brief group on status of project. 2) Discuss the results of brainstorming activity/next step.
Presentation by Maggie Bergin follows:
THE HOLYOKE CANALWALK
PREPARED FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE CANALWALK
By The Art of Politics: A Government Affairs Consulting Company
1. Project Leaders
City of Holyoke
The City of Holyoke is the project leader, working in collaboration their engineering and design consultant, Tighe and Bond, and MassHighway. The City’s Office of Planning and Development administers the project locally.
Holyoke Office of Planning and Development
Kathy Anderson, Director
Tighe and Bond
Thus far, the City of Holyoke has retained the engineering and design firm of Tighe and Bond for all engineering work on the Canalwalk.
Tighe and Bond
53 Southampton Road
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation is known as MassHighway. MassHighway administers most of the funding for this project, and oversees the Canalwalk’s engineering, planning, and specifications. MassHighway has two levels of project overseers, the Boston office and the local office. Holyoke is served by the District II local office. MassHighway’s Boston office assigns a Project Manager while MassHighway’s District II Office provides local guidance and feedback to the Boston office.
Mass Highway, District II
811 North King St.
Northampton, MA 01060
Guatam Sen, Canalwalk Project Manager
2. The Approval Process
The city/town, the consultant/engineer and MassHighway each play a role in the management of a transportation project. All federal transportation funds are passed to the state and administered by MassHighway. In order for a community like Holyoke to draw the funds down from the state, it must meet MassHighway’s engineering, planning and environmental specifications, and must locally match a small portion of MassHighway’s spending on a project (Usually an 80/20 split.) Each transportation project managed by MassHighway is given a project number and assigned a Project Manager.
Steps Toward Approval
Transportation projects have many iterations, but before construction begins, there are only five official measurements of a project’s readiness:
1. 25% design phase,
2. 75% design phase,
3. 100% design phase and,
4. PS&E (Plans, Specifications and Estimates)
5. Project goes out to bid.
Generally, the following actions are required at each step, with exception of step five, when the project goes out for bid:
1. City/town submits project plans to MassHighway local office.
2. MassHighway local office adds feedback and forwards plans to Boston Office.
3. Boston office engineers, planners and environmental staff each add comments.
4. Project manager consolidates all comments and responds to City/town
5. City/town and its consultant reviews MassHighway feedback and implement necessary changes/additions.
At step five, generally the following happens:
1. MassHighway issues public RFP.
2. RFP is open for 90 days.
3. At end of 90 days, MassHighway reviews bids. This can take as little as 30 days or as long as 60 days.
4. MassHighway awards bids to construction company.
5. Construction begins
Roles and Responsibilities
Throughout the process, the three project participants have the following basic roles and responsibilities:
City/Town – Work with Consultant to ensure project is designed and engineered according to City/Town’s specifications. Organize and hold statutorily required public design hearings. Submit plans to MassHighway
Consultant – Prepare environmental plans, engineering plans and plan specifications and estimates. Present plans at public meetings. Amend plans based on feedback from MassHighway and client.
MassHighway – Review and comment on submitted plans at 25%, 75%, and 100% design. Send project out to bid when the PS&E is complete. Manage bid process and supervise project construction.
3. Project Phasing
The initial 75% design submission for Phase I of the Canalwalk contained both sides of the first level canal from Appleton to Lyman Streets. Subsequent to the original 75% design, the city submitted a “Revised 75% Design” that broke the original Phase I into two segments: Phase IA and Phase IB. The revised 75% design is at MassHighway for comment. MassHighway’s District II Office has sent their comments to the Project Manager in Boston. When MassHighway’s Project Manager receives all comments, he will forward specific change requests for 100% design back to the City and Tighe and Bond.
Phase IA is located on the eastern side of the first level canal from Appleton to Dwight Streets. This segment is on the opposite side of the canal from Heritage State Park. The MassHighway assigned project number for this Phase is 603262.
MassHighway has asked the City or Tighe and Bond to wait on planning phases beyond Phase IA. MassHighway wants Phase IA to be completely designed before the City works on further Phases. MassHighway personnel currently assume that Phase IB will include both sides of the first level canal from Dwight St. to Lyman St. because those areas were included in the original 75% design submission, but this is only speculation. There is no project number assigned for this or any additional phase of the Canalwalk.
In 2003, an overview of the Canalwalk included the following descriptions and costs:
Phase Canal Streets Included Cost
Phase One First Level Canal Appleton to Lyman St. $1,979,000
Phase Two Second Level Canal Appleton to Dwight Street $4,042,000 (includes $2,000,000 in-kind contribution for utility relocation)
Phase Three Second Level Canal Hamilton to Appleton and Dwight to Lyman St. $3,186,000
Total Estimated Cost of Phases I, II and III $9,207,000
4. Funding Summary
The Holyoke Canalwalk is the recipient of three large federal appropriations. The Holyoke Canalwalk has also received significant support from the Commonwealth. The City will seek additional funding for future phases once it has spent funding already allocated.
State or Federal Year
Federal 1991 ISTEA Transportation Authorization Bill $258,188
State 2000 Transportation Appropriations Bill $51,638
State 2002 Urban Recreation Account within Environmental Affairs Bill $700,000
Federal 2004 Transportation Appropriations Bill $1,200,000
Federal 2005 SAFETEA Transportation Authorization Bill $3,500,000
Total Federal and State Funding $5,709,826
Additional Funding Needed, Based on 2003 Cost Estimate of Phases I, II and III $3,497,174
CANALWALK MEETING MAY 29th, 2008
On May 29th Friend's of the Canalwalk group hosted a presentation by Kathy Anderson and Karen Mendrala from the Holyoke Office of Planning and Development. We were informed that the first phase Ia construction was to begin some time this building season. No specific start dates were cited and unclear news regarding the design plans/ Department of Highways status. We have since learned that Mayor Sullivan made a formal announcement about Canalwalk Phase Ia (Appleton to Dwight Streets) expected to go to bid September 6, 2008 AND completion date for Ia to be Summer 2009.
Also at our meeting Karen presented some new information about a TOD grant (Transit Oriented Design) which, if funded, could provide
landscaping enhancements to Dwight and other East/West streets and connect the Canalwalk to the planned InterModal transportation center.
Other City initiatives: assessment/clean up grants, bridge concerns
(funding and construction options), artist collaborations were
discussed. We were informed, things are "moving along as best as it can". And the City considers the project a high priority item. Copies of design plans were available to view at end of presentation. Kathy and Karen stated that they would be available in future to respond to the group and anyone with additional questions.
We have learned that there will be a Downtown Improvements meeting on June 26 at 6P at Heritage State Park. The Planning Office will be presenting information about current projects. We will be attending and encourage everyone who is able to attend as well. A large community presence is always a good thing!
We've decided to meet as a smaller working group this month. We hope to focus on developing our logo, a mission statement, perhaps put together a press kit which could be used at the farmer's market to increase visibility in the community. We will send a fuller update
soon and hope to meet as a larger group some time in July (we're
shooting for Thursday July 17th at 7p). We encourage everyone to stay involved via email. Send us any pertinent articles or news about Canalwalk developments you may hear about. Also include your questions, concerns or ideas. We'll send another update and email before the next meeting date in July. Thanks to all for your interest and continuing participation.
CANALWALK MEETING JULY 24th, 2008
Present: John Gurvitch, Elaine Pluta, Cynthia Sommer, Ken Harstine, Sandy Ward, Nona Hatay, Andy Laties, Rebecca Migdal, Carlos Vega, Eric Fogg, Bruce Fowler, Nancy Sachs, Kari Gatzke
Meeting began with introductions and run-down of meeting agenda.
First item discussed was an update on Canalwalk rephasing. Due to resistance or special requirements made by property owners on what was phase 1 of the Canalwalk project, the city has decided to change the phase order of the work. The first phase will now be the area of land running along the upper canal, just parallel to, but across from, Heritage Park. From there it will continue down Dwight St, wrapping around onto Race St and then up Appleton St. to Heritage Park. This loop may also include the small railroad bridge connecting Race St to the land running along David’s building, then running south to connect with Appleton St. An engineer’s report on the structural viability of the bridge is required to proceed with this aspect of the plan.
With this rephasing of the Canalwalk project, a new design and bidding process must begin. According to Kathy Anderson the RFP went out to the Federal Register around July 13th. The group was informed that the Register is updated weekly. We can check on whether or not the Canalwalk RFP has in fact been posted.
Next item brought up regarded meeting with Deval Patrick at Heritage Park July 17th. A new contact was made: Clare Kelly, Advocacy Director in Deval Patrick’s administration. She is very pro Holyoke and handles issues pertaining to the arts. Even though the funding for the Canalwalk is a federal initiative, she could be instrumental in supporting art programming surrounding the Canalwalk project. The suggestion was made that at some point we may want to invite her to meet with us. It was also suggested that in the future, we should pursue a meeting/contact with Congressman Olver to seek the additional funds needed to complete all phases of the Canalwalk.
The next item raised was a discussion surrounding ‘Friends of the Canalwalk’ blog. It was agreed upon by the group that the blog would be made public, but the general public would have ‘read only’ access, while members of the Friends group would have a password allowing them to read, write and post material on the blog. The blog will be created and launched prior to next meeting. To aid in the administrative function of the group, a general group e-mail account will be created for future e-mail communications.
Three samples of a “Friends of the Canalwalk” group logo were presented as well as a mock-up of a potential “Friends” brochure. The group reviewed and selected one logo that can be used in the brochure, on the blog, for buttons, letterhead, etc. The brochure will be developed further to include the logo, possibly more photos or photos with higher resolution, the blog address and other contact info. It was decided that we would use 80 Race Street as our groups’ physical address. When more complete, a pdf of the brochure will be e-mailed to all members.
Next item(s) on the agenda: ‘Who are we?’ What do we want to do as a group? How do we fund our activities?
Members emphasized the need to establish 501C3 status in the future, but it was suggested that, at this point, it might not be necessary. Instead it was proposed that we develop the group identity more organically. Rather than formalize ourselves as a legal entity right now, we should phase that aspect in, as our activities/fund-raising require us to. It was noted that applying and obtaining nonprofit status could take up to six months. It was also suggested that we talk to Craig Della Penna about possibly using his 501C3 status as an umbrella organization for our group. Until that is a real option, and while we need only a very minimal amount of seed money right now, it was decided that we should send an e-mail to all Friends members requesting a small donation just to cover administrative expenses, i.e., first-run printing of promo materials, brochure, letterhead, etc. Another idea was brought up that we could pursue a local business sponsor for a small, but not tax-deductible contribution, or pro bono services, as in the case of a printing company, for our group.
Some other questions were raised. Who owns the canals? Who maintains them? Someone mentioned that the City is likely responsible for maintenance, but the department and funding was unknown at this point. Another possibility was that HG&E may own or manage them.
The discussion turned toward what we as a group could do in raising the profile of the canalwalk project. One idea brought up was arts programming; the creation of public art along or around the canalwalk. One example cited was the “ Artwalk in Rochester.” Other samples were passed around of previous ‘arts-walk’ brochures, which detailed similar initiatives for Holyoke from 2000 and before. Nona Hatay announced that she was putting together a series of urban photographs of Holyoke, to be shown at the Artisan Café in September. She is also working to have them made into a book. The opening for her show will be on Sept 5th, 5-7pm, at the Arstisan Café. It was decided that we should attend and have several copies of our brochure available at the opening to begin to raise our groups’ profile. Work will continue on the brochure over the next month and we will print a small run of brochures ourselves, for distribution at the opening.
Continuing on the topic of our groups’ identity, other groups cited as examples to look at: Passport Holyoke and Holyoke Unites. It was suggested that perhaps we post links to their sites on our blog.
Canalwalk Meeting 8/28/08
Present: Kari Gatzke, Christian Burns, Dean Nimmer, Neil Broome, Mo Ringey, Nancy Howard, Sandy Ward, Carlos Vega, Rob Kusner, Craig Della Penna, Bruce Fowler, Nancy Sachs
The meeting opens with discussion of the possibility of becoming a 501c3 under the umbrella of an already existing non profit with a similar mission. Craig Della Penna and his guest Rob Kusner present the current status and history of their 501C3 organization, Norwottuck Network. It began in 1999 as an educational organization to assist trail groups in Western MA. It received a grant for a project which funded a mural in Easthampton and signage on the Norwottuck bike tail. Currently, the group is ‘hibernating’ and has been inactive. Many of the founding members are no longer involved and they would have to repopulate the board of directors and have official meetings to start up again. Canalwalk group discusses various options available and whether operating under the wing of NN and amending their bylaws to suit our mission would be the best choice at this time. This would avoid start up costs but details would have to be worked out as to board membership, accounting methods, who does the work, etc. There is some discussion of the advantages of forming our own 501c3 or the possibility of passing on their 501c3 to us in some fashion. Questions were raised about the reasons for having non-profit status. Members suggested the possibilities of obtaining grant funding, private tax deductible donations, matching funds for publicity, brochures and planning events, etc. It was agreed that the group would continue discussion of this issue and stay in touch with the Norwottuck Network.
Kari presented the latest information on the development of a blog/website for the group. She has begun building it and has taken if offline while under construction. She asks members for additional material to post. Group members have items to share and include. We will also email the larger group soliciting additional canalwalk related material, history, photos, etc. It was also suggested that we arrange a small group meeting with Kari for those members interested in learning to use the site. An email to the larger group will serve as invitation.
Bruce presents the latest version of the flyer. Discussion focuses on cost, additional information to include and time frame for having them ready. Is there a pressing need now for them? Who would manage additional names to email list? Discussion of this also to be continued.
Last agenda item: Upcoming meeting which will include the guest appearance of Mayor Sullivan on Thursday, September 28th at 7p. Mayor has requested to talk to our group about The Canalwalk and Downtown Revitalization.