Public hearing on demolition takes place without public input

Elm Street - Westfield, Ma demo. Photo credit: The Westfield News

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Historical Commission Tuesday night conducted a public hearing “concerning the proposed demolition of the Flahive Building” on Arnold Street to satisfy the requirements of city ordinance, but apparently not to satisfy the curiosity of members of the public as the board opened the meeting in an empty room at City Hall.

Co-Chairwoman Cindy Gaylord said the commission gave its approval for the demolition earlier this summer after considering the advantages of the proposed Pioneer Valley Transit Authority 2,700-square-foot Westfield Transit Pavilion project.

“We, as a commission, decided that this building did not contribute to the historical character of the downtown and that its demolition would have a significant financial impact on the city,” Gaylord said as she closed the public meeting.

City ordinance requires a public hearing prior to the demolition of any building to allow members of the public to make comments and raise concerns about proposals to demolish structures and to determine if the structure has historical or architectural significance.

The Code of Ordinances, Chapter 6, Article IV, Historic Buildings and Structures, Section 6-75, Intent and Purpose states “This article is adopted for the purpose of: “Preserving and protecting historically significant buildings and structures, their individual features/components, or portions thereof, within the city which constitute or reflect distinctive features of architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the city.”

The Flahive Building, while not historically significant in its own right, is located in the city’s Historic District which encompasses most of the downtown area. Demolition of the building requires the commission to issue a Certificate of historical review (CHR)

That certificate, issued by the historical commission, certifies that the owner of an historical structure has submitted a proposed demolition of all or a portion of an historical building or structure to the historical commission for review.

The owner of the building is currently the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, which plans to demolish all of the structure this winter to create a site for construction of the $6.6 million Westfield Transit Pavilion to be constructed on a three-quarter acre lot. The PVTA acquired the property on May 1, 2015.

Pioneer Valley Transit Authority plans to construct a glass and steel building. The proposed design was developed and presented to the Planning Board earlier this year by Reinhardt Associates of Agawam, the architectural and engineering firm retained by the PVTA.

The Transit Pavilion is one segment of the Elm Street Urban Renewal plan which also includes construction of a multi-use commercial building at the intersection of Elm and Arnold streets and a multi-story parking garage to be constructed off Church Street.

Comments are closed.