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CHICOPEE — Looking ahead at his next term, Mayor John Vieau shared his goals for the city of Chicopee.

“One of my goals for 2024 is working together,” Vieau said. “I think it’s really important to work with the City Council, to work with the School Committee and the superintendent.”

He plans on having the best relationships that he can with the local delegation, including six representatives on Beacon Hill and three federal representatives — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) and U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-Malden) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge) — and Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.

“I think if we work together, we can accomplish so much,” Vieau said. “Our collective success depends on everyone.”

With last year’s City Council, Vieau shared that it felt like a “contentious” relationship.

“Transparency — my door is always open,” he said. “The public — they come in here sometimes just off the cuff and if I’m available, I’ll meet with anybody, or they make appointments and I’ll meet with them whether they’re happy or not.”

He continued, “Ideally, the goal is to keep the council informed and try to make decisions that are in the best interest of the people who live here, who work here — the taxpayers, the ratepayers, the stakeholders — and that’s what I’m really focused on for the next year.”

Vieau shared that public safety is the most important to him and feels that has been shown through the hiring of police officers and firefighters.

He noted that the city wants to continue to expand community policing. Interviews will soon be conducted for new cadets going into the police academy, and ambulance services have also been expanded.

“One of the things I want people to understand is when you call and you’re at your worst, we’re [going to] send our best and they’ll come,” Vieau said.

Chicopee has a new software platform called Fusus, a real-time crime center in the cloud, that is currently being rolled out. Vieau said they are calling it “Chicopee Connect,” which is Chicopee’s next generation neighborhood watch.

An ongoing focus that Vieau plans to continue working on is pedestrian safety. Through the receival of different grants, specific streets will be studied and reconstructed.

A major project on the horizon is reactivating the Central Library. Vieau said they have received some bids and the design has been completed. Now, a commission will be put together to review and the City Council will be asked for additional funds as it is a little more expensive than expected.

Vieau explained that the space will be fully renovated to meet Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. It will be a space for pop-up venues. He said they are looking at potentially looking at putting in office space, a location for Chicopee FRESH to continue work year-round and Cultural Council space.

“[We’re] trying to figure out how to utilize this space and bring people downtown,” Vieau said.

Another project is Phase 2 of City Hall, which includes maximizing every square foot of the existing building. He explained that they want to focus on keeping the building safe, relocating offices to better serve the public and using technology to maximize offices and proficiency. The entire building will also receive electrical upgrades.

In Phase 1, the auditorium received upgrades and is no longer dormant.

Vieau said they are working on getting the Uniroyal property back on the tax rolls and will soon be talking about a fill program. After going out for a request for proposal, they now have a preferred developer and are waiting on commitment before announcing.

A project Vieau shared he is “excited” about is Szot Park. “We’ve asked the public for their opinions on what they’d like to see at Szot, and as we remove the dam and restore Abbey Brook, it’s going to create some passive recreation in that area and [we] really want to see what people would like to have in their park,” he said.

Another ongoing project is the construction of a new Anna E. Barry Elementary School, which is now heading into the feasibility phase after completing the eligibility phase.

Some other upcoming projects and events Vieau is looking forward to include cutting the ribbon for the Post 9/11a and Service Dog Memorial Park, continuing building “fiberhoods” with Crossroads Fiber, improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, resurfacing streets, among other infrastructure investments.

“One of my goals is to really try to keep Chicopee affordable and we’re [going to] continue that,” Vieau said.

Chicopee is $8 million under the levy limit and also did $3 million in tax relief. “The goal is to try to keep taxes at bay, encourage new economic development — industrial, commercial projects here in Chicopee — and also the ones that bring good jobs.”

Chicopee’s first comprehensive plan, Envision 2040, has been accepted by the Planning Department and will go before the City Council for endorsement.

“The plan looks at smarter developments, revamping zoning and where do we want to be in 20 years? And the people spoke,” Vieau said. The plan was developed with the help of a survey that went out to the public for input on what they would like to see. It also includes an implementation strategy to assure it gets moved forward.

Vieau said he plans to continue to engage with the community and host monthly coffee hours at the Senior Center.

He added that a new website is being designed and technology is being used to make departments more efficient.

“I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to serve. I’m looking forward to working with everyone for the next two years and try to continue to make progress at a rate we can afford, that’s the goal,” Vieau concluded.

llebel@thereminder.com | + posts