March 12, 2018
Mayor Donna D. Holaday
These last two storms have created real challenges for our City. I extend my sincerest thanks to Tony Furnari and his staff at DPS, Chief/EMD Chris LeClair and Firefighters and Marshal Murray and members of the Police Department for the 24/7 work conducted to keep our city safe during these significant weather events. Thank you to the National Guard who sent high water vehicles to aid us on Plum Island during the high tide cycles. We are facing new issues on Plum Island with water overwash, flooding and infiltration of ground water as we have never experienced before. However we are working with the MRBA and making progress in negotiating with the State and DEP for the movement of sand from the Charos dock area to create a new berm along Reservation Terrace.
The water impacted the valve pits for the Air Vac system causing partial shutdown for about 9 hours for about 40 homes off of Northern Blvd. Jamie Tuccolo and Tony Furnari worked for hours during difficult conditions and vacuum pressure was restored and has been holding. I would also like to thank National Grid for the level of communication they provided to me and staff during the power outage; we were fortunate to have most of the city back up within 24 hours. Finally, to Major Hughes and the Salvation Army, thank you for opening up your site 24/7 to feed and shelter dozens of people.
So we brace for another storm- reports indicate blizzard conditions with snowfall predictions up to 18 or more inches. A Snow Emergency goes into effect at midnight tonight, please get all cars off the street, you will be ticketed and towed. City Hall, Senior Community Center, Library and Youth Services as well as schools are closed tomorrow. Trash pickup will be delayed one day. Evening meetings are also cancelled. Delayed openings may be necessary on Wednesday morning; my State of the City Chamber Breakfast will also be rescheduled. Be safe.
MMA Mayors Meeting: Mayor Jeanette McCarthy, Waltham hosted the meeting and we had the opportunity to engage with Senate President Harriette Chandler regarding Local Aid, school and charter school funding, roads and sidewalks and her zoning bill.
Business Park Meeting: On March 7th I was invited to attend a meeting at the Business Park regarding the expanding overlay zoning for cultivation of marijuana. Many business owners have taken a very strong stand in opposition to the expansion and do not want cultivation at the proposed site. I would be happy to discuss this further with the P&D committee. Councilor Shand attended the meeting.
Parking Study: We held a meeting with John Burke last week to review his comprehensive parking study and finalize the draft. Discussions will continue with the Parking Advisory Committee, Intermodal Advisory Group and City Councilors as we move forward on the garage construction.
Intermodal Facility/Garage: The contract with G&R Construction, General Contractor was finalized last week and a full construction team meeting was held. Construction is scheduled to begin around April 1st. We are working on a groundbreaking ceremony. Please note that the former site of the Lombardi building will be used for construction laydown and cars cannot be parked in this lot. Weather has also impacted our IAG meetings but we hope to have G&R and our OMP at the next meeting in early April.
Plummer Springs Bridge: Concerns about the status of the bridge were reported to you last summer and conditions have worsened resulting in DPS working with MADOT and we are all in agreement the bridge needs to be closed to all vehicles and especially trucks. It will remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists. DPS will work with West Newbury and our residents to provide advance notification of the closure.
House Boat Ordinance: After much research, debate and discussion on this issue of floating homes and house boats, I am pleased the Harbor Commission in consultation with the City, Ward 4 Councilor and impacted residents have completed this ordinance. It is important for the City to establish parameters for both floating homes and house boats.
House Boat Floating Home
School District: At our last School Committee on March 9th, Marshal Murray and School Resource Officer Meghan Tierney participated in a very positive discussion with the community on school safety. The students have scheduled a time for a walk out on Wed. March 15th to support Parkland students in Florida and their efforts to address gun violence. No outside adults are to be present at this event.
Unfortunately our final interviews with the candidates for superintendent had to be canceled tomorrow due to the weather. We are working to reschedule interviews and public opportunities to meet Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Colannino prior to School Committee meeting next Monday night.
Capital needs: I trust all City Councilors saw my email and response to the feasibility study at NHS for science labs; this was a simple communication error based on school budget practices. This was a very good price at $6,000 for the study given other pricing. The elevator transfer for the increased bid and ensuring a contingency is included in the project is before you. This is important to complete for ADA compliance and children with difficulty with mobility issues. Unfortunately we do not have good options when it comes to elevators- very limited contractors and worse for inspections. The funding is available from the school building projects.
FY19 Budget: Both the school and city budget development are challenging this year as we work through meetings with Department Heads. We presently are showing a deficit of approximately $500,000 on both the city and school budgets but will continue to work towards a balanced budget and hope for additional aid from the legislature.
Youth Services Award: Today the City of Newburyport received an award at the State House from the MA Coalition for Suicide Prevention. The award was given to recognize the work led by Andrea Egmont in creating a community-wide approach to suicide prevention- “It’s Our 20” campaign where 20% of students surveyed on the Youth Risk Behavioral survey self-reported feeling sad and helpless. School staff and community members were trained in Signs of Suicide (SOS).
Hale St. Ad hoc: will need to rescheduled again
NRA/WFT/City: March 14th at 6 pm for updates
Link House Annual ST. Patrick’s Day Event: 3/17 at Masonic Hall at 11:30
State of the City: March 20th, 6:30 pm City Hall Auditorium
Phillips Dr. Drainage meeting: March 27th at 7 pm