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Date of Award

5-1978

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

First Advisor

David A. Booth

Abstract

This dissertation describes the establishment of renewal policy-making as a municipal governmental function in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a declining industrial city of approximately 50,000 residents. It examines the development of the technical, administrative, and political capacities within the local political system necessary to plan renewal projects and programs and to achieve their approval by the local governing body. The research focuses on the constraints imposed on the range of policy objectives available to renewal officials and advocates by the politics of decision-making by the city's legislative body, the Board of Aldermen.

The principal sources of the data were interviews, press accounts, public documents, records of public meetings, and the files of various public agencies. Forty-five open-ended interviews were conducted with thirty-nine persons who were either participants in the process examined or informed observers of them.

The principal findings of the research fall into two categories. First, the city developed considerably greater technical and administrative capacity to plan renewal projects and to carry out other related functions of urban planning. Early reliance on appointed commissioners for renewal planning leadership gave way during the period examined to the guidance of staff professionals and the executive leadership of the Mayor.

Second, significant constraints were imposed on the range of renewal policy alternatives available to renewal advocates by the politics of plan-approval by the Board of Aldermen. Political power relative to renewal policy-making was found divided between two segments of the community differentiated in terms of socioeconomic and political cultural characteristics. These two segments of the community, labeled the "Managerials" and the "Workers," were represented in the Board of Aldermen in approximate parity, although the proportions were never precise and were subject to variations over time. When renewal proposals were perceived to represent the interests of the Managerials and were opposed by persons of the Worker segment who would be affected adversely by the projects, the results were "crystallization" of the issues with the underlying social cleavage of the community and intense class-based political conflict. In both such cases, the plans were rejected, or delayed extensively, by the Board of Aldermen. By contrast, proposals lacking such identification with the social cleavage were adopted without conflict or delay.

It is concluded that the division of political power in Holyoke makes it necessary for local renewal (or, in the future, Community Development) planning officials to select policy objectives which avoid excessive negative reaction from persons adversely affected, provided those persons have adequate political representation in the city's policy-making institutions.

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