×

Northampton OKs Indigenous Peoples Day

  • Several children spoke in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day —Amanda Drane

  • City Council approves new DPW Director Donna LaScaleia —Amanda Drane

  • City Council approves new DPW Director Donna LaScaleia —Amanda Drane

  • Shawn Porter, executive director of Look Park, announces upcoming improvements  —Amanda Drane



@amandadrane
Friday, May 20, 2016

NORTHAMPTON — With a vote by the City Council on Thursday, Northampton became the second community in the state to formally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Amherst became the first on Wednesday following a Town Meeting vote.

Northampton City Councilor Alisa Klein of Ward 7, who co-sponsored the unanimously passed resolution, said the communities join about 20 others around the country.

A packed house came Thursday for the vote, with several residents speaking during the public comment session about the slavery and genocide that Christopher Columbus brought to native peoples in the Americas.

Joe Golossi of 410 Spring St. said he moved to Northampton with his wife last spring in part because they were attracted to the area’s support for social justice. He was surprised, he said, to see that a city at the forefront of such issues would still acknowledge Columbus Day.

The resolution, he said, is a natural fit for Northampton. 

“It seemed like a continuation of the community’s commitment to social justice,” Golossi said.

Ward 1 Councilor Maureen Carney said the resolution allows the community to remember the people who occupied this land before us.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for those of us who live here to educate ourselves,” said Carney, referring to the seldom considered Nonotuck people.

Look Park projects

The City Council also voted unanimously to authorize Look Park to apply for state funds for new projects, including upgraded bathrooms, and improvements to the water spray park and fountain.

Shawn Porter, executive director of Look Park, announced during the meeting that the park’s 30-year-old train will also be replaced in late June.

DPW director

And the council also voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Donna LaScaleia as the new director of public works, a role she assumed following her appointment on May 2 by Mayor David J. Narkewicz. 

Ward 4 Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra said LaScaleia enters the DPW in “tough and sad times,” in light of the recent death of longtime director Ned Huntley and the departure of city engineer and acting director James Laurila.

“I have tremendous respect for those who have come before me,” LaScaleia told councilors.

And the council approved on second reading an ordinance that bans the privatization of water infrastructure in the city, which also passed unanimously.

And councilors unanimously approved $805,400 in Community Preservation Act funds for the overlook portion of the Pulaski Park renovations that are underway. The overlook involves an extension of the park by leveling the steep incline that separates it from the Round Hill plaza.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com.