District 5 City Council Forum

Telegram coverage

Video link

Kim Salmon from Fallon Health is the moderator.

Opening statements:

Johnhaynes Honneycutt: community’s making a difference, and we need more community involvement. He realized a lot of needs aren’t being met by current incumbent. Roads are horrible, potholes aren’t being filled. Fill it one time without going 4-5 times. Snow removal is not good. Dual tax rate favorable to residents. Heard Street speedbumps will be implemented – he presented the accident reports at City Council meeting.

Matt Wally: Opponent gave viewpoint that city is a horrible place. He believes the opposite. (1) Constituent services – no one better (2) Parks – two years ago, ran on platform of improving parks. This year’s budget, $600k turf field at Farber Field. Ribbon-cutting for phase 1 of Hadwen Park. (3) Pedestrian safety. Within last year, asked admin to put together interdepartmental group to put together pick up / drop off for WPS. Two weeks ago, asked for temp speedbumps, specifically Clover and Flagg.

Q1: Many residents commute, traffic is a concern, parking is a problem. How would you handle unique needs of D5 residents who want to be connected to rest of city and region?

Honeycutt asks for clarification on the question. Response: a lot of roads don’t have sidewalks and/or not conducive to parking. Lots going on in D1, need to bring it here. Administration of District 5 is not working.

Wally: chair of Traffic and Parking. They have been looking at this. Worcester State is an asset, but how to alleviate parking issues around this area. Has pushed WSU to develop plans for a parking garage on campus to take cars from neighborhoods and onto campus.

Honeycutt: asks what Wally has done in the past two years to improve traffic/parking; Wally responds handily.

Q2: shared business corridors – how to approach annual tax rate debate.

Wally: he wants to grow tax base for commercial/industrial. That will provide sustainable tax relief to homeowners. Unless we bring more in, will erode tax base further.

Honeycutt: Pretty obvious that businesses are flourishing to Worcester. With single tax rate that opponent is advocating for [um…didn’t sound like it] – a lot of people are struggling as is. Do not want to create a burden onto homeowners. We have lost businesses to “acreage” – none have left because of tax rate.

Wally quotes from Prime Metals on his company’s decision from Worcester to Sutton.

Honeycutt: ends do not justify means because that’s only one business – business address in Worcester more valuable than residential address. Investment into regional airport, ball park. Sticks with decision for dual tax rate.

Q3: New Doherty High School: impacts that extend to City Council. How to advocate?

Honeycutt: not Chandler Magnet. A lot of people feel Foley’s a good location, a lot feel current location is good. He needs to research more. Would need to know more before giving an answer.

Wally: serves on Doherty building committee. Mentions three different sites. They had requested further analysis of all three. Chandler Mag is the worst option of the three. Benefit of current site is MA School Building Authority funds. Wants to make sure decision doesn’t put city in a bind.

Q4: vacant space. what to do? what projects at top of list?

Wally: vacant commercial land: real estate owners need to be incentivized. Encourage investors out of Boston. We don’t have a lot of venture capital money so how to entice investors to come to our commercial corridors? Boston has a nonprofit that works on this and it might be a model for us.

Honeycutt: college students should be conduits for helping. Diamond Chevrolet, Big D site, shameful that they are vacant for so long. Ecofriendly. Will do the community justice as well.

Q5: town/gown relations. WSU

Honeycutt: transportation needs to be better. WRTA not conducive for residents, and doesn’t get colleges into downtown. (Not sure if he means college students or expanding services) Outlets and community involvement with the students.

Wally: WSU is a tremendous asset. Professors and students contribute to the area. Restaurants opening, interns from WSU. WSU created a neighborhood council for residents to have convos with admin to ensure town/gown relationships improve.

Honeycutt: how many people knew about the org WSU created? (I am the only one who raised my hand)

Wally asks how many people live within a quarter mile of WSU. Many people raise their hands; I know at least one of them lives about as far away from WSU as I do … so there you go!

Q6: airport increased usage. New access road? How to improve and make sure fits well in D5?

Wally: prior administration deserves a lot of credit for reassigning to Massport. Recreational travel opportunities should increase, but businesses can also benefit. Access road – we are at 250,000 – don’t need it (yet) – but thoroughway between 290 and airport is sufficient to make the trip.

Honeycutt: why not talk about WRTA or local transit systems.

Q7: cell service can be spotty. Making sure everyone can connect to each other and the internet. What to promote tech-wise?

Honeycutt: his aunt’s house is horrible with cell service. Need to work with organizations to make sure feasibility of tech is good, also encourage in WPS. We can’t run away or hide from it.

Wally: has pushed admin to work on 5G ordinance. This will allow for increase in availability. Info expertise can make a smart city work for all. Has been asking CM to use data/tech to roll out/ support city services. New dept to create smart city culture to make residents/businesses have more efficient services.

Honeycutt: did you vote that Worcester is in a climate change?

Wally: yes

Honeycutt: 5G is very dangerous for the environment. SO we can’t talk about both of our mouths.

Note: this is what the NY Times website says. and what Scientific American says.

Wally: we need to be innovators. China has 5G more than you can ever dream of.

Q8: Green space

Wally: has had tremendous success in working on park opportunities. Hadwen, Farber Field. City has partnership with Seven Hills – park space in public building (Stearns Tavern) to help those with disabilities earn money.

Honeycutt: people need to use parks. Connect young people to parks. We lack that ability in D5. Many people don’t use the parks the way they should.

Wally: Honeycutt should visit Coes Park on weekend or morning because it is packed.

Honeycutt: Stearns Tavern doesn’t help with tax base for residents or businesses.

He keeps referring to Wally as the “administrator of district 5” and I just can’t.

Q9: sidewalks and pedestrian safety.

Honeycutt: need to implement sidewalks. Not a lot of sidewalks in the city. Need speed traps and speed bumps.

Wally: one of his very first orders was to put sidewalks around schools. Three weeks ago, neighborhood meeting on Flagg Street to look at how to develop sidewalks. Has a planning degree from Clark, is trained in planning, and knows how important it is for pedestrians to use sidewalks.

Honeycutt: how have your efforts been on Heard Street and Clover Street?

Wally: temp speed bumps

Honeycutt: BECAUSE OF ME AND THE RESIDENTS. Over past two years, why did you ignore?

Q10: D5 most expensive area to buy a home. What is responsibility to increase affordable housing?

Wally has extensive experience in affordable housing. He hears concerns about equity in homes, and this is important if people want to sell home.

Honeycutt: Wally’s proposal for single tax rate means that rents will go up for three deckers. How does that work?

Wally: until we grow business/industrial, burden will still be on residents. There’s a sad back and forth. Wally is trying to explain that this would be over time, Honeycutt responds that you would kill people slowly instead of shoot them right away.

Closing statements

Honeycutt says that city administration is actively trying to price people out of the city because gentrification.

Wally: as candidate you can underestimate voters. When you go negative, it shows you’re not a strong candidate, do not have expertise, and don’t have a platform. His opponent has gone negative, he stays positive.

AND THAT’S IT!!

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