Those pushing for a Polish Heritage District in the City of Holyoke are nearing closer after a vote Tuesday night.
The Holyoke City Ordinance Committee voted 4 to 1 in favor of moving the potential district to city council.
“We're going to stay to this until it happens because that neighborhood is awfully run down,” Atty. Victor Anop said. “In my opinion, a ‘no' vote on this is a ‘no' vote on Holyoke.”
The proposed district encompasses 28 residential and commercial properties on the southern part of Lyman Street.
“It's a positive thing. You put up flags, you're holding events, people come and remember and they think about history and what makes the area great,” Anop said.
In the proposed district is the site of the Mater Dolorosa Church which the Springfield Diocese closed in 2011.
Those opposing the district were in attendance as well.
“We were here tonight anticipating these results, so we're not upset.” Jean Dietriech of Our Lady of the Cross said. “We understand how it was going but we have hopes for in two weeks; it's looking good.”
The Springfield Diocese issued a statement to CBS 3 Springfield on Tuesday night:
"On behalf of the parish community of Our Lady of the Cross, I am certainly disappointed with this evening's Ordinance Committee vote. I believe we have respectfully raised a meaningful objection to placing our properties in the proposed historic district.
Let me be clear, there is no plan on the part of the diocese or the parish to demolish any building. Should the Vatican uphold its previous ruling, we would seek, however, to find re-use for the former church and friary. As we have politely maintained, that effort would undoubtedly be set back by any additional governmental restrictions and oversight, and would leave the ultimate financial burden of this district lying squarely on the shoulders of my parishioners and school parents.
For these reasons I ask, when it is presented, that the full Holyoke City Council vote against this district as currently defined with properties of Our Lady of the Cross included."
- Fr. Albert Scherer, OFM Conv.
The proposed Polish Heritage District will be heard at the next Holyoke City Council meeting.
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