February 12th, 2018
Mayor Donna D. Holaday
Housing Choice Initiative: On Feb 2nd I joined Massachusetts Municipal Association Board members and presented testimony at the Joint Committee on Housing at the State House on HB 4075 “An Act to Promote Housing Choices” chaired by Senator Joseph A. Boncore and Representative Kevin G. Hogan. This is a groundbreaking bill filed by Gov. Baker to increase the housing inventory across the state with the goals of 17,000 per year or 135,000 new units by 2025. The Housing Choice Initiative is designed to incentivize communities by becoming a Housing Choice Community based on certain requirements such as a demonstrated 5% housing production over the last 5 years; an implemented housing production plan; a cease on housing moratoriums; a signed Community Compact; a 10% affordability requirement. Chris Kluchman has been appointed as the new Housing Choice Program Director, and MA Housing Partnerships are actively working to provide education on the program.
Harvard Kennedy School (HKS): On February 2nd a team of graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School came to Newburyport to determine if HKS would accept our city into the Community Rating System Project (CRS). We were informed last week that Newburyport has been accepted into the project and a team of four graduate students will start work on a project addressing flooding issues in Newburyport. The project will run from now to the middle of April and a core team from the City has been identified to work with the students.
Congressman Moulton’s office was responsible for sponsoring this project. The project will focus on determining how Newburyport can qualify for FEMA’s community rating system (CRS). If the City is successful then rates for flood insurance will be reduced by about 20% to a maximum of 40%. It is expected that the project report will be used by other communities within the Congressmen’s district as a model for qualifying for CRS.
Central Waterfront: The Waterfront Trust (WFT), Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA), the City and Settlors met on January 22nd to review the status of the Memorandum of Agreement, land dispositions and other outstanding issues in regards to the Central Waterfront. This was followed up by a meeting with the Chairs of the WFT and NRA. We are currently working on scheduling a joint public meeting with the WFT, NRA and City.
Budget & Capital Plan: Initial budget meetings with Department Heads are underway. I have requested the highest prioritized capital items so we may devoted more funding to the City’s roads and sidewalks. We are potentially looking at $1.6M funding this year and DPS is finalizing a 5 year plan and will reach out to new City Councilors for their input; the plan that has been developed is based on meetnigs with members of the City Council at the end of FY18.
Parking Study: We have received the draft parking study by John Burke and are in the process of completing our internal review and will release the plan to City Councilors for your next meeting if not before. We will also be scheduling a public meeting with Mr. Burke to present his findings.
Intermodal Facility/Garage: We received word last week From the Attorney General’s Office that the bid protest was denied. The next IAG meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22nd at 6:30 pm in the Mayor’s Conference Room.
Waterfront West: We are still awaiting a date for a meeting with New England Development in Boston to work on design. We did receive news last week that Scott Kelley, one of NED’s key staff on this project and someone we have worked with for many years will be leaving the firm this month.
Schools: Andrew Wulf of Salem has accepted the position of Newburyport’s High School principal. The School Committee has received two finalist for the superintendent position and will continue interviews tomorrow night starting at 6 pm in the media center at NHS. The finalists are Sean Gallagher, Assistant Superintendent of Wilmington and Anthony Colannino, Leadership and Professional Learning Specialist with Mindset Works, Inc. The candidates will tour the school district tomorrow with a School Committee member before the interviews. Community and school forums to meet the candidates will be scheduled after the school vacation week as well as team visits to the districts where the candidates are working or consulting. The School Committee will then conduct final interviews. (please see attached resumes)
The Public Hearing on the School District budget for FY19 is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 27th at 6:30 pm at the Senior/Community Center.
Merrimack River: Lowell’s Sewer Department organized a meeting of other DPS staff to discuss the status of combined sewer and storm water overflows or CSO activations due to the recent concerns about the pollutants in the river. A follow up meeting is scheduled and we are also working on setting up a meeting with the Merrimack River Watershed who has extensive data and research.
Hale St. Ad Hoc Meeting: Unfortunately the weather resulted in cancelling our first meeting but a new date with be confirmed this week with notifications to community members.
Senior Property Tax Relief: The Home Rule Petition for Chapter 41 c ½ HD4591, An Act Authorizing the City of Newburyport to hold a special election for the purpose of accepting the terms of Clause 41C½ of Section 5 Chapter 59 of the Massachusetts General Laws was filed by Rep. Kelcourse’s office and is currently with the clerk’s office at the State House.
Trash/Hauling Contract: We are continuing meetings with G.Mello Corporation to identify potential decreases in cost reductions from the original proposal indicated an increase of 36%. The City has currently reduced costs to approximately 18% but we hope our final number is a further decrease in this expense.
Health Insurance: MIIA presented a 6.5% increase in our health insurance for FY19; the results of an RFP issued to solicit additional bids will be presented to the PEC on Thursday, Feb 15th.
Merrimac River Beach Alliance: Permitting is moving forward on the dredge of the Piscataqua River with State funding and we are awaiting word from the Army Corps of Engineers which dredging project(s) of ten will be accepted and funded. This would be near shore sand placement to Plum Island and Salisbury due to the incompatibility of the sand. We are hoping to work with the Charos’ family to initiate a small dredging project to place sand on Reservation Terrace. Additionally, we are working with State agencies to establish a Trust Fund from small increases in parking fees for dune nourishment.
Riverwalk Brewing Company: A ribbon cutting was held on Feb. 1st at their expanded site next to Mark Richey Woodworking on Parker St.
Eagle Scouts: On Feb. 11th I presented citations of commendations to five Eagle Scouts; Lance T. Olsen, Han M. Lambert, John E. Barrett, Samuel G. Spinney and Alexander A. Troisi – well done!
Youth Services Asset Awards: This annual awards ceremony is scheduled for Feb 21st at 6 pm at City Hall.