Bidwell Advisors
January 17, 2018
To neighbors and friends, Ward 2 and elsewhere,

I hope the start of your New Year has been wonderful and that you are looking forward, as I am, to an exciting year ahead.

Please read on to learn more about these topics:

The start of a new Council session

Downtown cameras

Valley BikeShare is coming!

The City Budget process is starting

I always enjoy hearing your opinions, questions, recommendations and requests for assistance.


Dennis Bidwell
The start of a new Council sessionnewsession
It was an honor to take the oath of office on January 2 for my second term on the City Council. I was pleased to have so many of you come to the polls in November and cast your ballot for me. Even though the outcome wasn't in doubt, as I was running unopposed, it nonetheless was gratifying to have 702 of you in Ward 2 vote for me.

Special thanks to those of you who hosted lawn signs for me and who helped in other ways in the weeks leading up to the election.

I look forward to continuing to work diligently on issues affecting us here in Ward 2 as well as city-wide. It is challenging and complicated to be part of local government in a time of swirling national resistance agendas. In the months and years ahead you can continue to expect me to be progressive without being knee jerk, and on preferring common sense and balance to absolutism.

I was moved and inspired by the benediction remarks by Reverend Todd Weir (First Churches of Northampton) at the close of last week's inauguration ceremonies:

"This morning we pause to give thanks for our unity as people, gathered to charge and empower governing officials in our city. We are grateful for the character of our community, for the relative prosperity, tolerance and desire for the common good to be enacted among us. We are grateful for people who dedicate themselves to leadership and service. Together we charge them to always be truthful, gracious and diligent in their responsibilities. May they be guided with wisdom as they face the challenges of a world that changes so quickly. May they seek a unity of purpose in a turbulent and divisive time. Grant them boldness when it is necessary for justice, let them be bridge-builders in overcoming what may be necessary conflict, and lead them to be people of depth, purpose and responsibility.

May we as citizens offer our support and generosity of spirit to those who are given authority to administrate and serve the common good in our community. Help us to recognize our mutual responsibilities, and guard against apathy and resignation. Let us not shrink from honest questioning and necessary debate, but to always begin with good will, curiosity and a desire to grow and change and learn from one another.

And may the blessings of providence be upon us together, as we pray to the God of our understanding. In this New Year 2018 may we all be a light of compassion, wisdom and justice. Empower us in a vigorous pursuit of our best ideals than we may not falter in the face of our challenges."

I was especially pleased that Mayor David Narkewicz was reelected with such a mandate - he received 79% of the votes cast, vs. 21% for challenger John Riley. I look forward to working closely with our excellent Mayor in the years ahead.

I recommend the Mayor's inaugural speech.
Downtown camerasdowntowncams
After four months of discussion at Council meetings, committee meetings, in social media, on the pages and the airwaves of local media, the City Council on January 4, as you may be aware, concluded its consideration of the proposed ordinance banning (with a few exceptions) permanent municipal cameras downtown. By overriding the Mayor's veto of the ordinance with a 7-2 vote (I was again one of the dissenters), that ordinance is now law. It is regrettable that agreement could not be reached on a compromise ordinance.

Leading up to this final vote, I offered my views in a Gazette guest column.

I hope we can do better as a community and as a Council when the next contentious issue comes along. In an era when national issues and local issues often blend together there are indeed likely to be more contentious issues ahead.

I welcome the participation of all of you in an improved process the next time, one that hopefully welcomes the views of all sides.
 Valley Bikeshare is coming!bikeshare
This spring, Valley BikeShare will be up and running. Northampton is the lead community and program administrator of a regional collaboration aimed at increasing transportation options in the Valley, decreasing our carbon footprint, improving public health, reducing congestion, and reducing the need for parking.

There will be 500 electric-pedal-assist bikes with a total of 50 stations, once the system is fully installed. Of these, 140 bikes at 14 stations will be in Northampton. Anyone can join the system and, for a modest fee, take unlimited 45 minute rides between stations.

Stations that will be installed in coming months in or near Ward 2 include:
  • John M. Greene Hall at Smith College
  • Elm St. near Northampton High
  • Village Hill (west side of Village Hill Drive)
  • The YMCA on Massasoit St.
  • Forbes Library
  • Locust Street at Cooley Dickinson Hospital
Further information is available through Northampton's Office of Planning and Sustainability.
The City Budget process is startingbudget
The process of preparing and approving a City budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 is beginning. Between the General Fund budget (which includes the School Department) and the budgets for our four Enterprise Funds (Water, Sewer, Solid Waste, and Stormwater and Flood Control), the budget process will determine how over $109,000,000 will be spent on behalf of Northampton's residents. A municipal budget is a critical statement of values and priorities, and as such deserves great attention and input.

The process will be launched with a January 30 (7 pm) joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee at JFK Middle School, at which the Mayor and Finance Director will present a comprehensive overview of the city's revenue and expenditure forecasts, often making comparisons with other communities in the Valley. The presentation uses excellent graphics so is quite understandable as well as comprehensive.

Here is a link to the material presented by the Mayor at last January's meeting. 

I encourage attendance at this meeting, which will be followed, as the process moves along, with various other meetings and hearings which will provide opportunities for further public input, leading to Council votes on the proposed budget in June.
Dennis Bidwell City Council Ward 2
  413-584-2732 |
19 Forbes Avenue
Northampton, MA 01060