Lederman announces start of working groups, anti-litter initiative (The Reminder)
SPRINGFIELD – City Council President Jesse Lederman is spearheading the creation of four new resident-based working groups to discuss various community sectors. He also recently proposed an anti-litter program entitled Springfield Green Corp which would address litter and provide leadership opportunities for the youth population.
Lederman debuted the working group concept in one of his first initiatives as City Council president. The Working Group on Civic Engagement was formally announced on Oct. 4, 2022. It featured 15 community volunteers from various backgrounds and newly elected Ward 5 City Councilor Lavar Click-Bruce as its chair.
“I believe that community and public participation should be at the heart of the work local government does every single day. We need more community voices at the table to solve our city’s greatest challenges and develop the next generation of leaders,” said Lederman in an October press conference.
During the press conference, Lederman declared the Working Group on Civic Engagement would present their final recommendations by the end of 2022 – a timeline some deemed to be ambitious. The group met several times over the course of two months, including a Nov. 3, 2022, community forum that welcomed the input from residents and other community leaders.
On Dec. 20, 2022, Lederman and the working group members presented eight recommendations to improve civic engagement in Springfield. The recommendations included several ideas to make local government more accessible to the public, such as attaching a layman’s cover sheet with all new ordinance proposals, email and text alerts for upcoming government meetings, the creation of an online public speakout sign-in page, local government briefings and the extension of early and mail-in voting to local elections.
Lederman announced the debut of four new working groups during his 2023 inauguration as City Council President on Jan. 3.
The Working Group on Creative Economy and Tourism will be chaired by City Councilor At-Large Sean Curran, the Working Group on Neighborhood Quality of Life is chaired by Ward 8 City Councilor Zaida Govan, the Working Group on Labor and Workforce Development will be led by Ward 3 City Councilor Melvin Edwards and the Working Group on Digital Equity & Internet Access features Ward 2 City Councilor Michael Fenton as its chair.
Lederman is now looking for volunteers interested in being a part of these working groups. He shared that the working groups were created to discuss key areas of growth in the city.
“These are key areas for growth in the city of Springfield in the years ahead,” said Lederman in an interview with Reminder Publishing.
While considering growth for these sectors, Lederman stressed that gathering public input is essential.
“It’s really about thinking big and towards the future while not forgetting about the everyday experience of the people who call our city home,” said Lederman.
Lederman hopes for the working group format to continue bringing community voices to the table. He said he intends to continue utilizing the working group model in his role as City Council president.
“We have a great wealth of expertise amongst our population in Springfield. We need to do a better job of creating opportunities for people to bring those experiences to the table … I’m hopeful it will become a continued part of our local government,” said Lederman.
Interested residents can sign up at https://www.springfield-ma.gov/cos/council/2023-city-council-working-groups. The application will be open until end of day on Feb. 14.
Lederman also announced on Jan. 19 a plea for the creation of an anti-litter movement called the Springfield Green Corp. Modeled after a successful initiative in Worcester, the program would recruit local youths into summer jobs to clean up Springfield neighborhoods and parks, conduct sustainability education across the city, and benefit from leadership and educational programming.
Lederman has championed several environmental initiatives throughout his tenure on the City Council. He helped advocate against a proposed biomass plant in Springfield that was eventually blocked from happening while also remaining a critical voice of the proposed Eversource Western Massachusetts Gas Reliability Project that would further entrench natural gas locally.
“Environmental and public health issues are particular areas we work on in local government that have a real impact on the everyday lives of our residents,” said Lederman.
In discussing the proposed Springfield Green Corp, Lederman believes more work needs to be done in addressing litter across the city.
“It touches every piece of progress that we want to make … We have to get the basics right and make sure our public spaces, our neighborhoods, our civic spaces are clean. [It’s] really a fundamental responsibility of our local government, and one that we need to do a better job of,” said Lederman.
Following Lederman’s proposal of the Springfield Green Corp, Mayor Domenic Sarno announced a Clean Sweep Initiative on Jan. 20. The program promotes a city-wide anti-liter movement in partnership with Roca and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Roca will be dedicating three five-member teams that will be responding to quality-of-life calls placed into the city’s 311 Call Center by residents to address litter throughout the city. This partnership will continue into the summer with an option to renew or extend the contract, according to Sarno’s press release.
“We’ve been working on this expansion of quality-of-life services … This is the culmination of a number of prior meetings I have had with Roca leadership officers. I look forward to working with local [Roca] Director Solomon Baymon and team,” said Sarno.