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In The News
August 7, 2019
Holyoke Mall sells land, building; plumbers union plans training facility, developer has plans for parking lot

July 24, 2019
Holyoke City Council committee mulls resolution to increase natural gas service capacity

July 15, 2019
Holyoke Planning Board OKs Lower Westfield Road distribution center, over traffic objections from neighbor

June 25, 2019
Holyoke Planning Board hears plans for distribution center at former Atlas Copco

June 4, 2019
Holyoke City Council approves Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot question; middle schools remain in play

May 31, 2019
Holyoke City Council begins FY 2020 budget process, mayor submits $134 million spending plan

May 23, 2019
Holyoke city councilor proposes building 1 middle school instead of 2

May 21, 2019
Rally urges vote on Holyoke school proposal, tax increase

April 26, 2019
Holyoke committee tables Proposition 2 ½ override question as Holyoke Mall cites potential hardship

April 14, 2019

Holyoke honors Sikh community with City Hall flag raising, call to prevent violence

February 20, 2019
Holyoke councilors to discuss proposed behavioral hospital at former Geriatric Authority site

January 21, 2019
Holyoke City Council OKs $8.9 million bond for Jackson Street sewer project

January 16, 2019
Holyoke City Council approves zone change to pave way for proposed 100-unit apartment complex
------------------------ >>

Local News Archive

I promise to work hard and do the best job I can for you and Holyoke

Position Paper on Ballot Question
for 2 new schools

Mayor Morse, Councilor Lisi push for massive property tax increase

Recent Events:


Dino’s Pizza
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Monday, April 15, 2019
6:00 p.m.
(Note Change of location & TIME for the meeting!)
  1. Update on traffic issues Clayton, Ashley, Sunset neighborhood
  2. Update on Middle Schools proposal/ballot question
  3. Updates on City Council meetings
  4. Other issues as requested - please email me so I can provide accurate information.
VIEW/PRINT forum Minutes

Hi All: I am planning to hold a forum meeting in April due to scheduling difficulties in March, but want to provide an update until we can meet:
Some key issues for our Ward and Holyoke include:
Click here to continue reading ...:
1) The construction of a new hospital to replace the old Geriatric Authority was approved by the City Council after 3 requests for proposals were completed. This was the strongest proposal, is a secure facility, will provide in patient care and day hospitalization programs (where the person comes in for the day and returns home at night). There will be no clinics, no primary detox services and no out patient services provided at this site.
People admitted to this hospital will have a primary psychiatric diagnosis. This hospital expands the number of beds available for those with acute psychiatric issues in our area so they will not need to travel to the eastern part of the state for care.

2) Proposal to build two new schools: A bond exclusion ballot question (essentially a proposition 21/2 override)
is being discussed to be placed on the ballot at either a special election or on the November ballot, if at all. We have been advised by our financial advisor that this is the only way the city could finance the schools at this time, due to the current financial status of our city. The City Council has sent an order to our Mayor to ask that he develops a financial plan including a debt stabilization fund so that the increased taxes already being paid and the new sewer rate $ generated will be used to fund such things as these schools rather than spending that money on day to day operations. This is a complex matter. While we generally agree that the education of our children and improved outcomes are imperative, we need to find a way to move forward without causing so much financial distress for those who live here after many recent tax increases. This issue will be on the agenda for our meeting in April. In the meantime please reach out to me with your questions and /or opinions on this issue.

3) Sunset Ashley Road neigborhood street closure: with a $25,000 price tag for the construction of the closure of the roads and no available funds at this time, I have filed an order for our DPW department to seek assistance/support from Holyoke Community College to seek the funds and tp come up with a temporary way to close the roads until the funding is obtained. This has been referred to the Public Safety Committee so the project does not get lost in the the system. 4) Many pot holes have been reported to DPW and they have begun to work on them.

Please let me know of any other questions or concerns.


Linda Vacon
City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading

Holyoke Free Cash Letter

Holyoke Water Works Institutes Public Safety and Protective Measures at Holyoke’s Drinking Water Supply

View PDF document here

On behalf of our citizens, I have asked the Inspector General to investigate the financial management of our city

Video: - "We are the fiscal watchdogs"

April 4, 2018 Forum - Related picture of traffic issues

Superintendent of Holyoke Public Works Mike McManus presented ideas to address longstanding traffic issues in Ward 5 at Blueberry Hill, Apremont Hwy. and Rock Valley Rd. and other locations

300-plus attend Gary Rome Hyundai grand opening in Holyoke.

Linda cuts the ribbon at the festive ceremony.

Holyoke Honors US Army Vietnam Veteran Charles Sullivan

I was honored to attend a special event at the home of Charles Sullivan, a US Army Vietnam Veteran, here in Ward 5 today, September 28, 2016.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts brought their Blue Crew of 30+ employee volunteers on a bus from throughout the state for their Annual Company Service Day.
They worked on the home of US Army Vietnam Veteran Mr. Charles Sullivan, landscaping, painting, replacing a broken window, replacing an unsafe kitchen floor and broken kitchen doors. In addition, they built stairs with railings and a small deck.
To honor his service, the volunteers also installed a new flag pole and presented Mr. Sullivan with a U.S. flag with an honor guard arranged by Jim Mahoney, our Veterans Service Director.
I was pleased to be a part of this special day for a person who served our country and in turn was assisted in his time of need.
Charles Sullivan,
to Linda's left
Charles Sullivan, left Flag pole installation

Letter to the Editor by Councilor Vacon
Holyoke residents with private systems should be excluded from water runoff fees

See Letter on line
Letter to Editor:
It is NOT fair for residents who pay for private sewer services (septic systems) to be charged an added fee for storm water. As it is, they have been subsidizing the inadequate sewer fee through their property taxes for the last two years. Storm water from the area of the city without a sewer system does not even reach the treatment plant as storm water cannot travel up the Rt. 202 hill to enter the treatment plant.

Those with septic systems want to pay for services they actually receive from the city and that the city is able to provide. It has been stated that there is no sewer service available for approximately 700 homes in Holyoke. Those cities that have a storm water fee probably all have homes on the city sewer system. In that situation everyone is paying for a service they receive.
Click here to continue reading ...

Those with septic systems have paid for the maintenance, testing and compliance with Title V regulations since they purchased their homes. There has been no assistance from the City and none is proposed in the Mayor's budget.

Those who receive sewer service have had one increase in the sewer fee since the upgrades were completed at the water treatment facility.

The budget proposed by the Mayor asks that those with private septic systems continue to subsidize the losses in the sewer fund and IN ADDITION pay a storm water runoff fee.

There is no water running off from those who pay for private septic services into the water treatment facility. Again, it is impossible for water to flow up Route 202 to enter the water treatment plant.

To shift the cost of the sewer upgrade to those who have paid the full cost of private septic costs on their own is unfair. Establishing fees on all to help some is just a 'hidden' tax, and one that cannot be written off because it is proposed as a fee. There are certain limited government services that we all pay for that serve the entire community. The sewer service is NOT one of them!

What should be done?

On December 2, 2014, our highly regarded Acting City Auditor put forth a step by step approach to bring the sewer rates in line with the costs. He recommended a $1 increase over time to avoid the shock of a steep increase (that did not pass the City Council as it was too much of an increase all at once).

The Mayor could have included this recommendation in the budget, but instead retained the subsidy and ADDED another fee. This is not a business friendly proposal.
The addition of the storm water fee to those who do not receive sewer service is not a matter of taxpayers paying their fair share. It is a DOUBLE CHARGE to taxpayers who do not receive a service from the city.

It is time for local government to live within its means as taxpayers must. When free cash is certified it should be used to balance the sewer fund, not to further expand local government. Those taxpayers who pay for their own septic systems should not be required to pay any more and our business owners do not need another fee added to their cost of doing business.

Linda Vacon, Holyoke City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading

Recent Press releases:
    Holyoke, MA.Today Holyoke Ward 5 City Councilor Linda Vacon announced that she will continue to fight the needle exchange program. "We need to keep our streets safe. Unfortunately, the needle exchange program that costs taxpayers over $150,000 annually, acts like a magnet and is bringing more problems into our community. ... Continue reading ....

More Info on Needle Exchange

Letter to Editor by Linda to Holyoke Sun
PDF pg. 6 | Jan. 18, 2013 Holyoke Sun issue

Transparency needed

Op-ed by Linda, Herald Publications

Aug. 28, 2012
Holyoke Board of Health Chairwoman Ms. Katherine Liptak, RN, promised me references (during the public meeting) of studies the board utilized to come to their decision in favor of needle exchange. There has been no information forthcoming from the Board of Health at the time of this letter, so I have done some research.
Click here to continue reading ...
It was shown at the meeting that we currently have approximately 30 drug addicts using needles here in Holyoke with illness, and it was shown that male to male sex with multiple partners is responsible for 40 percent of new cases of AIDS. So, in the interest of public health do we spend $150,000 of taxpayer money for a needle exchange, or spend money to continue to educate people to reduce all high risk behaviors to lower the burden of illness and death for many more?

Meanwhile people who continue with their drug use (the root cause of the problem) will continue to seek money to fund their habit. They often endanger others in the commission of crimes. They will also often die from drug abuse.

Speakers at the Board of Health meeting made assumptions about the success of the needle exchange programs reducing Hepatitis C and AIDS. Scientific studies have shown these assumptions do not hold true. See the Dr. Lucy Sullivan, 1997 study that states "there is no sign of an impact on the rate of decline (of HIV incidence rates) with the introduction of needle distribution in 1992." Also see the Vancouver study by Strathdee, 1997 showing an increase in HIV among drug addicts using needles. Then there is the Montreal study Bruneau J et al, 1995, showing that drug users participating in the needle exchange program were twice as likely to become infected with HIV as those who did not participate.

To those at the meeting who heckled, booed, and chastised speakers who opposed your views or dared to ask questions, such bullying is unacceptable behavior. It dishonors our democratic process as it discourages freedom of speech and public debate. Such actions should not be condoned by city leaders.

Linda Vacon
City Councilor and Candidate for State Representative
Finished reading

Needle exchange, an outdated, failed program

Letter to the Editor by Linda Vacon, July 18, 2012

A needle exchange program was approved by the Mayor shortly after City Council meetings ended for the summer. This action is contrary to the campaign rhetoric by our Mayor who promised transparency in our government. The Board of Health appointed by the Mayor voted unanimously to approve this. Is anyone surprised by that?
Click here to continue reading ...
This needle exchange program was clearly voted down by our citizens by a significant margin.

A news article stated that the last needle exchange program was approved around 1996. Perhaps that is because this program is outdated and has failed to accomplish the goal of reducing drug addiction. Now it is recast as a program to reduce AIDS and Hepatitis C for approximately 100 city residents, if we are to accept the stated statistics.

While it is a commendable goal to reduce illness, the scourge of drug addiction with its collateral damage from robbery, assault, and deaths, as drug addicted individuals seek any and all avenues to satisfy their drug cravings, is unaffected by this program.

What happened to the image of Holyoke and the marketing for businesses downtown? Who will be the first to open their new business next to the needle exchange? This is hardly the image we need to renew our city.

There is already a needle exchange in Northampton. For those who are drug addicted, syringes are readily available. Let’s not enable the very behaviors that take the majority of time and effort by our dedicated police force.

Linda Vacon, City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading
As your Ward 5 City Councilor, I will continue to represent you:
By hearing concerns and ideas from residents.
By serving on committees to make things happen.
By making informed decisions.
By keeping you informed on issues and decisions that affect you.
Getting to know Linda:
Professional Profile   Contact Linda   Support Linda

Please feel free to contact me by phone 210-6077 (cell) 533-6498 (home) or use the Contact form with any questions you may have.
Thank you, Linda

4 important local issues, my perspective:

..... Click here to continue reading

First: Our local government needs to be affordable, efficient and effective for the residents. Homeowners and small businesses cannot continue to pay more and more, so the size of our local government must fall in line with the available revenues. Rather than increase taxes even more, we need to provide the essential government services, which include police, fire and public works. Other programs need to be evaluated for affordability and value to the taxpayers.

Second: Our City Council is established to represent our city. When Holyoke had 60,000 residents, the fifteen-member Council was large, even then. Now with the population less than 40,000, the size of the Council is disproportionately high.

Third: I favor the establishment of a City Charter review committee. It is a healthy process for us to re-evaluate our current government structure to see if we can better serve our residents. Many believe that the current model results in a high level of in-fighting between factions on the Council and frequent power struggles with the Mayor. Many wonder if the interests of the residents are well served. I am open to hearing new ideas, have set forth some thoughts on the matter in another section of this web site and look forward to input, discussion and vigorous debate on this topic.

Fourth: I will not promise my vote on a matter before I have listened to constituents, considered input from concerned citizens, and become well informed on the subject. When I do decide on a matter, I will share the reasons for my decisions. While it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, it is possible to conduct public business in a manner that is open, responsive and has integrity.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

Linda Vacon

Finished reading, close document

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