Two new city council committees have been created to look at quality of life issues in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos has announced a Green Committee to work on energy, environmental, and climate change issues affecting the city and a Dog Park Committee to create the first dedicated location in the city for people and their canine friends to exercise and play.
" For each of these committees we want participation from the public," said Ramos.
Ramos invited people who are interested in serving on the new ad hoc committees to send resumes and letters to the City Council office in City Hall.
" There are people out there who are dog lovers who want to get involved and we want to reach out to those folks and offer them a chance to get more involved," explained Ramos.
Newly-elected City Councilor Jesse Lederman will chair the Green Committee. Lederman, who was an environmental organizer with Arise for Social Justice, said he expects the committee, which had a previous incarnation in 2010, to recommend specific policies for the council to act on.
" One of the things brought up before would be a transition to LED lights across the city of Springfield," said Lederman. " We also want to bring new ideas and new proposals forward."
Picked to chair the Dog Park Committee because of a background in grant-writing, City Councilor Marcus Williams said his constituents have told him a public dog park would be welcome in Springfield.
" Our neighbors in Ludlow and Agawam have ( dog parks) that thrive and I am looking forward to that happening here as well," said Williams.
The Dog Park Committee will also have members appointed by the city’s parks and health departments and the regional animal shelter.
The Police and Community Relations Committee will continue for a second year, but Ramos has not announced the committee’s makeup. Also, the Casino Oversight Committee will keep going with City Councilor Mike Fenton returning as its chairman.
Councilors were assigned by Ramos to serve on 11 permanent committees.
" Appointing committees is always a difficult task," said Ramos who explained he tries to match a councilor's interests and experience to the committee assignment.
" It is always a difficult task, but I think I was fair and inclusive in the process," said Ramos
City Councilor Tom Ashe, who had been the longtime chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, no longer serves on that panel. Kateri Walsh, the dean of the council and its current vice-president, sits on two committees, but chairs neither.
Ramos said he heard no complaints from his colleagues after informing them of the committee assignments.
The city council president deactivated four committees: Race and Civil Rights, Special Permit Review, Audit, and Elder Affairs. He said those committees had met infrequently last year, and the duties and responsibilities of each would be absorbed by other permanent committees.
Ramos dissolved the special Young Professionals Committee. Its most noted accomplishment was crafting an ordinance that passed last year to license and permit food trucks to operate in designated areas in the city’s downtown.