Published in the Springfield Republican on September 18, 2012 (click here for link)
By Jacqueline Watson, Holyoke Redevelopment Authority Board Member & Vice Chair
I have lived in Holyoke for over 45 years. I remember the hustle and bustle of thriving businesses on downtown’s High Street and Main Streets. Apartment blocks were full, home ownership at its peak. However, like everywhere else, times and technology started to change. Malls emerged, manufacturers moved on and apartment buildings became vacant and/or abandoned. A lot of changes happened, but, Holyoke didn’t move with those changes.
That was then…this is now. The Holyoke Redevelopment Authority (HRA) was established in 2008 by then Mayor Michael Sullivan. The HRA has the powers to plan and implement activities needed to redevelop underutilized, deteriorated or blighted areas, to encourage new development, and to promote sound growth for the City of Holyoke. Since its establishment our main goal was, and still is, to focus on the Four Lower Census Tracts of the City and develop an Urban Renewal Plan to be approved this year – 2012. And I am proud to say that we are almost there!
Under the banner of “Connect. Construct. Create” the HRA and City staff will be presenting this month a plan to revitalize Center City Holyoke, and serve as a roadmap for the Authority’s work. Countless data was collected and several public meetings were held so that the HRA Board members could receive feedback and valuable input in our work to create a plan that would be acceptable by the City Council, the Department of Housing & Community Development and most of all, the residents of the City of Holyoke. In addition to Holyoke residents, business owners & community leaders gave us ideas and suggestions at those meetings that gave us the energy we needed to write a plan that will turn the City of Holyoke into a place new businesses will want to invest, build & operate , and encourage families to buy or rent real estate knowing they will have job and educational opportunities, places to go, options for transportation and a safe& secure environment.
We hope to obtain the support of the entire community to help this process become successful. I also hope to again be around for Holyoke’s revitalization and get back to the hustle and bustle of thriving businesses, filled apartments and an affordable homebuyers market. With all of our commitment, it can and will happen!