CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos and State Rep. Joseph Wagner are inviting Governor Deval Patrick to come to Chicopee as he proposes housing unaccompanied immigrant children at Westover Air Reserve Base.
Speaking during a news conference at Chicopee City Hall on Thursday afternoon, Kos and Wagner asked Patrick to visit the city so he can speak with local leaders and city lawmakers about the impact this proposal would have. They also want him to see the facilities at Westover, where Kos says it doesn’t appear that there are adequate facilities to house up to 1,000 children while maintaining the base’s mission.
Both the mayor and Wagner, a Democrat who represents a significant portion of the city in the House, have expressed opposition to the governor’s proposal. Both men say they are concerned that housing up to 1,000 youngsters at the base would put a strain on city resources. Patrick, however, says that all spending on the children’s housing and care would come from the federal government.
Both men said that the governor did not reach out to them prior to his announcing of the proposal last Friday. Kos said that he only learned of it when received a phone call from Richard Sullivan, the governor’s Chief of Staff, shortly before Patrick’s Friday news conference. Wagner said that he received a vague phone message the evening before from a member of Patrick’s staff, who said that the governor had thoughts on the broader issue of immigration. The message did not mention Westover.
“There’s a disconnect in my view of that, and that he (Patrick) didn’t do outreach on the front end,” Wagner said.
Kos also said that the governor has not explained to them why he believes Westover is well-suited for housing the children.
“There’s a disconnect in my view of that, and that he didn’t do outreach on the front end,” Wagner said.
The request to the governor’s office was also made in a letter sent out Thursday, and messages were left with his office.