Mayor Donna D. Holaday
September 25, 2017
Evergreen Development: The AECOM report on the drilling provided new information on the aquifer as well as new data on groundwater levels. Consequently, the Water and Sewer Commission voted unanimously on 9/20/17 to require a peer review of the construction design and groundwater levels by the engineering firm of Woodward & Curran. However, the Planning Board voted to add this scope to Horsley & Whitney’s peer review that is required by the Conservation Commission. We should have additional data in approximately one month.
Intermodal Facility/Garage: Completed design plans and bid documents arrived today from Desmond Associates and are available for review in the Planning Office. The bid package will be released electronically through Project Dog, a local Newburyport firm, on October 6th with bids due November 11th. We are continuing efforts to assist in the relocation of the final tenant with OR Colan, contracted relocation specialists. Closure on the sale of property from NED to the City is contingent on the relocation. This will be followed by the demolition of the existing building and NED has 60 days to complete. MVRTA presented a training by their FTA expert attorney, Wendy Lee for contractors last week. The MVRTA is also working on the operational MOU. Next meeting of the Intermodal Advisory Group is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th but this may change as several key abutters cannot attend. Please watch for posting and IAG members will be emailed directly.
Tomorrow, Rich Jones, Geordie Vining, Paul O’Brien and I are meeting with a team in Dover, NH. The city just opened a 321 space garage after three decades of debate; it is brick, next to the police station and near residences. We will be reviewing construction process as well as operations.
MINCO: Awaiting sign off on resolution of the abutter dispute regarding the affordable housing development on the MBTA property in our 40R Smart Growth for 76 rental units. They also need sign off from National Grid and this project is ready to move forward.
Personnel: Peter King, water plant staff has been deployed to Puerto Rico through Beverly’s MA Task Force. We wish him well and safe journey.
Graf Rd. Lift Station: Mass Works Funded $1.8M toward the project and the State was out last week to assess the status; reports were very favorable.
Tilton St. drainage construction should finish in the next two weeks.
Phillips Dr. Update to the neighborhood on the hydrology study and other assessments in process on Sept. 27th at 6 PM at the Senior Community Center.
West End Easement Bids came in below budget and T. Ford, Georgetown was low bidder at $193,030
Finnegan Way: water main replacement should be completed this week
WWTF: Currently running with only one secondary clarifier and working on repairs to one offline, 1st primary clarifier cover arrived and is being assembled; fine bubble aeration has been installed supplying much greater amounts of oxygen to break down waste and construction of the new biofilter is underway.
Olga Way: clean up continues after the water valve burst inside the building causing significant flooding and water damage but the computer and new SCADA systems and generator were not impacted.
PI Hydrants: as of last week, six hydrants replaced and anticipate decrease in time per replacement as crews become more familiar with work and environment.
Hydrant Flushing dates to be determines: will post sign boards, web and press release when dates confirmed.
Gillis Bridge: Sen. Ives and Rep. Kelcourse coordinated a meeting with MADOT bridge operators/maintenance with my office and Marshal Murray and Chief Fowler, Salisbury, to review the problems the Gillis Bridge drawbridge. Technology is from 1960’s which is old and unreliable and motor and parts to be replaced starting Nov. 15th. A follow up meeting will be held in the spring.
Schools: Congratulations to Sean Reardon who was unanimously elected to by a joint meeting of the School Committee and City Council to serve the unexpired term of a member who relocated from the City.
A Search Committee will be formed shortly to initiate the process to seek a new superintendent for July 1, 2018. We are sorry to learn of the retirement of Susan Viccaro but she has served our community and school system well over the past five years. Cheryl Sweeney will chair the search committee, Bruce Menin will represent the school committee and Barry Connell has volunteered to represent the City Council. A press release will be issued this week, but anyone interested in serving on the Search Committee for a new Superintendent should send a letter of interest to my attention at City Hall. The School Committee will discuss process and consultant at our next school committee meeting.
We will be holding School Committee meetings during Oct., Nov., and Dec at the Senior Community Center in hopes of ease in parking and access may increase community attendance at our meetings.
- City Fiber Optic Network installation is estimated to begin mid-October planning, scheduling, logistics and materials are almost complete.
- Remote and Satellite City Facilities are anticipated to be migrated to fiber network through the winter in to early spring.
- Upgrading of server based Networked Phone Systems has been successfully completed.
- Police Mobil Data Terminals successfully implemented in Police Cruisers
- Traffic Cameras have been replaced due to their end of life and failures (originally deployed in 2009).
- Phase 1 of replacement of 32 bit windows desktop computers is underway to be replaced with 64 bit desktops as Windows 10 begins to be deployed
Affordable Housing: Affordable Housing Trust is hosting a meeting on Thursday, 9/28 at 6:30 pm at the library to update the community on the affordable housing plan completed four years ago.
Finance: As our housing values soar and property taxes have increased we know this creates a real burden on our seniors. The City currently provides a senior tax exemption under Clause 41C, which allows for an annual abatement of $500 to $1,000 for qualifying taxpayers aged 65 years or older. Due to the restrictive nature of the income and asset limits, only 49 residents currently qualify. The City of Revere has initiated a ballot question for the November election to address this issue- http://www.reverejournal.com/2017/05/26/vote-yes-on-a-senior-citizen-residential-tax-exemption/
We are looking at Clause 41C½, if accepted, replaces the fixed dollar exemption under 41C with a percentage-based exemption set at five to twenty percent of the average assessed value of residential parcels in the city. If the exemption were set at ten percent, for example, the exemption would be $621 to $1,242. As with 41C, the taxpayer/owner must have occupied the residence for 5-10 years depending on local acceptance, however there is NO asset limit and the income limit is tied to the higher “circuit breaker” limit set by the state. Based on the less restrictive nature of Clause 41C½, we estimate that approximately 250 taxpayers would qualify, allowing this property tax exemption to provide relief to a much greater number of seniors. An added incentive of the senior tax exemption clauses is that the state provides reimbursement for $500 per exemption issued. Offering a larger number of exemptions, would increase the amount of annual reimbursements we receive on the Cherry Sheet up to $116,000. The net cost from overlay we estimate would be $50,000 to $150,000, but this clearly requires much further analysis to refine who exactly would qualify and at what amount.
North Shore Chamber hosted the Annual State of Region with Mayors and Managers discussing Economic Development in their communities on September 13th.
Whittier Vocational Technical School: Received a $500,000 in a competitive grant award for advanced skills manufacturing. Gov. Baker and Sec. of Labor & Workforce Rosalin Acosta with higher ed, community and business partners
Run to Home Base: Red Sox Foundation Director Mike Allard received a check for $1,000 to help veterans and their families through a special clinic at MGH. The funds were collected from staff that must pay $3 every Friday if they wear jeans. Thank you Lois Honegger for your idea to raise funds for nonprofits.