Kos: Westover immigrant housing plan “makes no sense”

Says base does not have the facilities to house children

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos says that a proposal to house immigrant children at Westover Air Reserve Base works neither for the children nor the city of Chicopee.

Kos held a news conference at Chicopee City Hall Friday afternoon, in which he expressed his opposition to a plan announced by Governor Deval Patrick to house up to 1,000 children at Westover. The mayor said that he was not aware of this proposal until he received a phone call Friday morning from Richard Sullivan, Patrick’s chief-of-staff.

In his remarks Friday afternoon, Kos said that the proposal “makes no sense.” He said that they understand the humanitarian concerns that brought about, but military already looked into the possibility of housing immigrant children at active bases, and determined that it would not work. He said that he is unaware of any available lodging at the base, as the housing on base is used by reservists.

“Westover should not be an option, because it’s not an option. It’s an operational airfield without the logistics to house children, and maintain its security without impacting its operation. The proposal by the governor to use Westover does not work for those children, and it does not work for the city of Chicopee,” Kos said.

The mayor also expressed skepticism about Gov. Patrick’s assertion that local communities would not be impacted by the housing plan. Kos said he didn’t know how that was possible, and added that Chicopee already has more homeless families living in hotels than any other community in the area.

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