Holyoke voters to decide on new middle schools in November

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Meetings this week discussed the proposed two new middle schools in Holyoke. 

The state is agreeing to cover a large portion of the $133 million projects, but the $57 million the city would have to pay is causing some push back. 

On Tuesday, the city hosted a meeting with Mayor Alex Morse favoring the proposal, and just a few days later, “Keep Holyoke Affordable for All” and former City Council President Kevin Jourdain encouraged residents to vote no. 

“We need to make and do reasonable renovations,” said Jourdain. “You can put $20 million into each of these buildings. You could do this without an override.” 

Mayor Morse told 22News, “This has been a long process, and I think no matter where you live in the city, what you look like or what language you speak, you should have access to a state of the art middle school experience.” 

The city’s most recent projections calculate around a $129 increase in taxes for the average single-family home on a 30-year bond. Mayor Morse said the current projections don’t include new businesses coming to the city, like Amazon. 

“As our values rise as more economic development happens, that creates a better economic picture for the city, which decreases the tax impact that has to be put on ratepayers for these new schools,” Mayor Morse added. 

But Jourdain said the increase puts more onto an already struggling retail market, putting the Holyoke Mall, a major taxpayer, in a precarious position. 

“The amount of money that we are going to get from amazon is very tiny,” Jourdain said. “About $80 grand a year. The mall has been very outspoken that this would be a hardship for them. They pay us over $8 million a year, and this would be a 600,000 in tax increase.” 

Residents will vote on the project on November 5. 

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