BUDGET UPDATE: The FY19 budget is finally balanced and will be presented to the City Council on May 14th. We had hoped to shift some funding from a foundation supporting the schools in order to cover two new positions but this was not approved. We adjusted revenues in the Reserve for Abatement account and were able to cover the Social Worker position and balance the school budget.
Health Insurance: negotiations were challenging with the PEC as our initial health insurance increase was 6.5% which we could not sustain or balance the FY19 budget; we were able to reach agreement with MIIA and members of the PEC at 4.8%.
Capital Plan for FY18: The request for funding for capital projects/needs will also be presented to the City Council on May 14th.
Schools: The School Committee unanimously supported the contract for the new Superintendent
Sean Gallagher; the contract has been signed and he will begin his new position starting July 1, 2018. A copy of the contract has been filed with the city Clerk’s office. Mr. Gallagher will begin a formal transition and is scheduling meetings with key school and city personnel.
Fats, Oil and Grease (FOG): On April 23d a meeting was held for all local restaurants and facilities serving food as well as for grease haulers. The FOG regulations were reviewed and as well as each establishments’ current level of compliance. New documentation binders were provided to each business with notice that fines will begin being issued in 24 months for violations. I cannot emphasize how critical compliance is here and the impact FOG is having on our infrastructure.
4” sewer line almost completely blocked due to FOG
Plummer Springs Bridge: We have been monitoring the status of this bridge for the past several years and have noted significant changes. MADOT also has been working with the City on the monitoring of this structure and concurred that it is necessary to close the bridge to traffic; pedestrians and bikes will be able to continue to use the bridge. It is also important to note that this bridge spans our water supply. We presented a status report to W. Newbury as the bridge borders their property and the Selectman supported the need for closure to vehicular traffic. We are awaiting word on a small bridge grant submitted last summer to the State.
The Plummer Springs Bridge will closed indefinitely beginning June 26th.
Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA), Waterfront Trust (WFT) and City: A public meeting was held on April 25th with the City, WFT and the NRA that was very well attended. The NRA rescinded their vote to convey parcels labelled below as D1 and D2 based on legal opinion that consensus must be obtained on the full plan to convey NRA property by the City Council and Mayor. Positive discussions and consensus was determined on many of the parcels. A1 and B1 are areas anticipated to be developed as parkland and discussions occurred as whether the city would be in a stronger position to obtain grant funds for this park development and then transfer to the WFT. Work conducted in the two working groups are being consolidated as the consensus document to advance further work. Both Mr. Uhlig and Mr. St. Cyr have agreed to work through this process until June 30th and then step down from the NRA.
Plum Island: Approximately 25% of the identified sand (purchased by the residents and from the Charos dredge) has been placed along Reservation Terrace. We ran into some challenges finding the right bird monitor and the work was shut down and our Emergency Certification had to be extended. The work resumed at the end of last week and should be completed in the next 10 days. We then will need many volunteers to help plant dune grass, please watch for the announcement.
Picture shows the level of erosion that has occurred between the boardwalk and south jetty.
We continue to wait on a final decision from the Army Corps of engineers regarding which of the 11 dredging projects under consideration will be selected and funded; the Piscataqua River dredge in NH will provided over 300,000 cu. yds. of sand for near shore placement off of Salisbury and Plum Island. We are also investigating a regional purchase of a dredge.
Sen. Ives is working with us on establishing a fund for dune nourishment from an increase in parking fees; the parking lot is jointly owned by dcr and the City.
Waterfront West and New England Development: Andy Port, Planning Director and I met with Mr. Karp, Attorney Twohig and Mr. Duffy to discuss the status of Waterfront West. NED has made significant changes to the conceptual design decreasing height and density. We will meet with representatives from the Planning Board, City Council and City to plan the review process going forward.
Cree Video Shoot: During the week of April 9th, Cree, the company we purchased our LED streetlights from, was here doing a video of Newburyport. I look forward to seeing the final product and sharing with our community.
Newburyport Chamber Annual Meeting: Mike Bartlett our Facilities & Maintenance manager received the President’s award from the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce last Thursday. Ralph Castagna received the coveted Ed Molin Award.
Essex County Community Foundation: hosted a conference on the Creative Economy in Beverly on April 13th with a very impressive turnout throughout the region. We are working with our Cultural District partners to apply for a Creative Arts grants.
Our Neighbor’s Table: A wonderful non-profit based in Amesbury is reaching out to increase supports to address food insecurity in Newburyport; we will provide additional information as the program develops..
Kennedy School of Government: Congressman Moulton was instrumental in bringing a group of graduate students to the City to study FEMA’s Community Rating Scale (CRS). This is a very complex assessment system that has the potential to reduce flood insurance costs. Last Thursday the students presented the program and their findings. Our sustainability ad hoc group will review further.
MMA Mayors Spring Conference: May 9th– 11th.
2nd Annual Show Your S’Port: May 4th 7 pm at the Senior Community Center- three exceptional coaches and champions of youth sports will be recognized Mike Barry, Kevin Lucey and Neil Reardon. All proceeds support our field projects.
Annual Boy Scout Breakfast & Civic Awards: May 17th at 7:30 am at the Senior Community Center – this year Ann Ormond, Vicki Hendrickson and Skip & Marge Motes will be honored.