HOLYOKE CITIZENS FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT
AN OPEN LETTER TO HOLYOKE CITIZENS
FROM THE HOLYOKE CITIZENS FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT:
LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD BY THE MAYOR AND CITY THAT
THE PRIVATIZATION OF WASTERWATER TREATMENT IS A WASTE OF OUR MONEY, TIME AND RESOURCES.
ENCOURAGE MAYOR SULLIVAN TO OPEN BIDS FOR ECONOMICALLY
AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND ALTERNATIVES BEFORE EPA FINES HOLYOKE FOR IGNORING THIS MATTER AND CONTINUING TO POLLUTE THE CONNECTICUT RIVER
Holyoke Citizens for Open Government is writing this letter to appeal to you, the citizens of Holyoke, to urge Mayor Michael Sullivan to drop his pursuit of the Aquarion contract and move forward with a fresh study of city-run alternatives that the city council voted by a 14-1 margin to authorize several months ago.
Even though the deadline for signing the contract with Aquarion Water Services has passed, recent press accounts have quoted the Mayor as continuing to favor the seriously flawed 20-year $176-million contract. The price of this contract will now increase from its already exorbitant cost. It is reported that Mayor Sullivan is still trying to find a way to activate the Aquarion contract before the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) begins to levy fines on Holyoke for no progress on cleaning up the Connecticut River.
We must convince the Mayor that refusing to consider other options is a waste of time and puts the city at a risk, by courting huge fines for our city. Perhaps the EPA would delay fining us if it sees that progress is beginning toward the river cleanup and the political gridlock is over.
Join us in a public appeal to the mayor, to show the EPA that we are working on solving the problem by authorizing a fresh study and seeking new bids, based on economic, environmentally-up-to-date approaches.
It is clear that the Mayor did not have the two-third’s majority of the city council necessary to get the private contract signed by the July 1 deadline before the prices go up and the savings evaporate.
The mayor has claimed that it is a small vocal minority that opposes the contract. Almost half of the city council, who are representing the interests of their constituents, are not a minority. It is clear that the Mayor has not succeeded in persuading these councilors, nor you the citizenry, that they represent of the benefit of this situation and therefore cannot transfer the funds to start the contract.
Please join us in urging the Mayor to move on. To let go of a program that is widely opposed by you, the citizens. To stop courting fines from the EPA. Urge him to deal with the real issue: modernizing our system and cleaning up the river in a low cost, environmentally sound way that gives Holyoke the most control over method and rates.
It is important for the Mayor to understand what city councilors have been pointing out: if we start now, we can meet the EPA order to complete our work on cleaning up our sewer overflows into the river by the deadline of 2008.
We ask you to join us in urging our Mayor to rise above the cloud that the former mayors of Taunton and Lynn, MA unfortunately cast over their cities by accepting jobs with private water services corporations after they had negotiated large contracts while they were still in office.
[It is puzzling that Mayor Sullivan—in the face of impending EPA fines-- remains commited to the single- bid Aquarion option for dealing with the City's solid waste problem when members of the City Council have identified many of its errors and imperfections ( for example, the June 6, 2005 “Proposed Wastewater Treatment Financial Analysis” by Mark Lubold, Ward 6 City Councilor) and when some 500 of our fellow citizens turned out at the High School back in the dead of winter to raise serious questions about privatizing a function as essential to our well being as waste water treatment.
We remain equally puzzled by his unwillingness to support the optimization study requested by 14 of the City’s councilors so that we can have multiple competitive bids rather than only one, and get on with the task of cleaning up the Connecticut River, a step favored by virtually everyone.]
Let us work together in a democratic way to solve our city’s waste water treatment problem by adhering to the EPA deadline for cleaning up the river in 2008. Let’s make our city a model for municipalities with aging sewer systems all over the United States.
The mayor has stated repeatedly that a vocal minority is against this contract, not the vast majority of the citizens. From what we have heard from everyone talking about this issue this is not the case.
We appeal to you to make your voices heard –in the Mayor’s office, to your city councilors, and in the pages of this newspaper and others.
For Holyoke Citizens for Open Government
485 Hillside Ave., Holyoke, MA 01040
Carolyn Toll Oppenheim