Reed Schimmelfing: An open letter to Northampton’s mayor

  • Blooming cherry trees on Warfield Place in Northampton. Gazette file photo

Published: 7/11/2021 4:00:05 PM

Mayor Narkewicz: Regarding the rebuilding of Warfield Place, the point about the beautiful cherry trees that still bloom fabulously each May has been well established and cannot be refuted by an objective assessment. Numerous photos of this year’s display are readily available.

I would like to address the separate point of your responsibility as steward of our city’s resources, financial and beyond. I have been a resident and taxpayer for most of the past 40 years and have seen many improvements to our great city. A brief list has to include renovations, additions or replacement of schools, fire and police facilities and numerous other public resources, accumulation of green spaces, accommodations for those with physical challenges and many more. Rarely has money been wasted.

When I look at what the Department of Public Works has planned for Warfield Place I have been left to wonder where this plan that is so impractical, unneeded and destructive came from. I found my answer in Judith Fine’s letter published June 26 Gazette (“Push pause on Warfield project”) — this street was put at the top of the list for street rebuilding by a computer algorithm.

If a person looked at Warfield Place they would acknowledge that the surface needed attention, it is patches on patches in many places. This person would also see a quiet street traveled only by residents and the delivery and service people serving that street.

If they looked a little further they would see Norfolk Avenue near the other end of Prospect Street. It has been patches on patches for the 30-plus years I have known it until this spring when it received a new surface. The repaving will likely serve this also little traveled street for many years at much less cost than what is planned for Warfield, leaving resources for where there is greater need that will serve many more people such as repairing dangerous sidewalks on streets, including State and Prospect, that see dozens, if not hundreds, of people each day.

It is past time for a human to assess the algorithm’s conclusion and assure that our city’s financial resources are serving its infrastructure resources in the best way possible. Mr. Mayor, well over a thousand humans have considered this and signed a petition at change.org/savethecherrytrees and more are added each day. You are the one human who can actually save the trees and prevent the wasting of resources by instructing the DPW to redirect those funds to more worthwhile projects.

Reed Schimmelfing lives in Northampton.


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