Month: September 2018

A Statement from Senator Eric P. Lesser Regarding the Columbia Gas Explosions in the Merrimack Valley:

SPRINGFIELD — Today, following the tragic events in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on Thursday evening, Senator Eric P. Lesser released the following statement:

“I express my condolences to the families of the Merrimack Valley who have lost their homes and all of those hurt by this tragedy. I’d also like to thank the first responders on the ground for their quick response and life-saving work.

“In light of yesterday’s tragic events in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, I am calling on the Department of Public Utilities to conduct a statewide investigation of Columbia Gas operations, including an immediate plan for fixing the hundreds of gas leaks already known and identified across our Commonwealth. Until that investigation and plan is complete, there must be a halt to new permitting and construction, including the proposed Longmeadow metering station.

“Unfortunately, our region has seen the devastating impact of gas leaks. Springfield experienced an explosion as recently as 2012 that caused widespread damage.

“It shouldn’t take a tragedy to force action. Enough is enough. Columbia Gas has a moral obligation to protect the public and to fix their infrastructure.”

Sen. Lesser represents Springfield, Chicopee, Ludlow, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Wilbraham, and Granby which accounts for 50 percent of Columbia Gas’ service area in Western Massachusetts.

###

 

Sen. Lesser Cuts Ribbon at New Christopher Heights Housing Complex in Belchertown

BELCHERTOWN — Sen. Eric P. Lesser joined local officials, including Reps. Susannah Whipps and Tom Petrolati and Board of Selectmen members Brenda Aldrich, Ed Boscher and Gail Gramarossa, to cut the ribbon officially opening the Christopher Heights Assisted Living Facility in Belchertown on Wednesday.

“This is yet another major development happening in Belchertown. This one is particularly exciting because it is the first new property opened on the old State School site, the first major step toward redeveloping and reusing this land that has been vacant for far too long,” said Sen. Lesser.

The project was supported in part by a MassWorks infrastructure grant. Representatives from MassDevelopment and MassHousing were also present to celebrate the opening.

Photo below:

Sen. Lesser speaks at the opening of Christopher Heights in Belchertown.

Sen. Lesser, Rep. Whipps Visit Site of Future Splash Park in Belchertown

BELCHERTOWN — Sen. Eric P. Lesser and Rep. Susannah Whipps visited the site of the future Belchertown splash park on Wednesday after securing state budget funds to build the park.

The new splash park will be built in place of several tennis courts located near Chestnut Hill School which have fallen into disrepair. The park will redevelop land that is currently underutilized and unsafe for small children

“There’s a lot of new developments in Belchertown, and this park will be yet another exciting recreational opportunity for families to enjoy. Through a lot of hard work and coordination with Town officials, we were able to secure this critical funding that will add to the quality of life for our residents,” said Sen. Lesser.

“I was proud to advocate for this project with Senator Lesser and Representative Petrolati.  This beautiful recreational area fits perfectly within Belchertown’s plan for more community space to be enjoyed by families for years to come,” said Rep. Whipps.

The legislature overrode Gov. Baker’s veto of the budget amendment that allocated funding to build the splash park. The Governor signed the final budget in August.

Sen. Lesser and Rep. Whipps speak about what this new splash park will mean for the community in Belchertown.
Sen. Lesser views renderings of the new splash park that will be built in Belchertown using funds secured in the state budget.

Sen. Lesser, Western Mass. Legislators Send Letter Requesting Faster Handicap Placard Service for Western Mass. Residents

Western Mass. residents can wait over a month for handicap parking permits, even after being assured the wait time would be reduced

BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser, along with 13 fellow legislators representing each of the four Western Massachusetts counties, sent a letter on Monday to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack urging a reduction in wait times for Western Mass. residents applying for temporary handicap placards.

The request comes after a July 19 report by NEPR revealed that Western Mass. residents recovering from injuries can be forced to wait for about a month to receive a temporary handicap placard, with some waiting six weeks or more.

Western Mass. legislators previously addressed the problem with Secretary Pollack in 2016. They received a letter in response from Erin Deveney, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, which claimed that there is an expedited process for temporary placards that had not been followed in Western Mass. RMV offices. Deveney wrote that the RMV would “educate staff further on the best ways the RMV can serve temporary disability parking applicants.”

But the report by NEPR shows that the problem persists.

“It is disturbing to us that we were assured this problem would be fixed only to discover, two years later, that it has not been,” the legislators’ letter reads in part.

“Moreover, this is clearly a pattern in which residents of Western Massachusetts continue to be treated as second-class citizens with unequal access to the state resources enjoyed by residents of Eastern Massachusetts,” the letter also says.

“We were assured two years ago that this problem was fixed, and that wait times for handicap placards would be the same for residents of Western Mass and those living in the Greater Boston area. But that is not the case,” Sen. Lesser said. “Instead, we have a situation where Western Mass continues to be treated unfairly and continues to receive second-rate service despite paying the same taxes.”

In the letter, the legislators urge Secretary Pollack and Deveney to implement the expedited process they claimed was in place for applicants seeking temporary handicap placards. Failing this, the legislators asked Secretary Pollack for her recommendations on potential legislative fixes to the situation, such as a bill that the House and Senate could pass, if necessary.

Finally, the letter requests a concrete plan from the transportation secretary to fix the problem, and explain why it persists two years after the legislators had been assured it would be solved.

The full list of legislators requesting action is below:

  • Senator Eric P. Lesser
  • Senator James T. Welch
  • Senator Anne M. Gobi
  • Senator Adam G. Hinds
  • Senator Donald F. Humason, Jr.
  • Representative Jose F. Tosado
  • Representative Bud L. Williams
  • Representative John W. Scibak
  • Representative Paul W. Mark
  • Representative Brian M. Ashe
  • Representative Smitty Pignatelli
  • Representative Stephen Kulik
  • Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose
  • Representative Carlos González

Read the full letter here.

###