Retail Marijuana Sales: I commend the City Council for the extensive work, meetings and discussion to try to reach consensus on the location of retail marijuana sales in the city. It has been an arduous task but time is running out and I am hopeful you will be able to make a decision this evening. Community input seems to support the traffic circle and Storey Ave. over the downtown and I would concur with these views.
Brown School & Youth Services: For several months I have been in contact with the National Guard regarding the purchase of the Emergency Ops building on Low St. The building is used a few times a year and is a great location across from the Nock/Molin School. The building is one of five that the National Guard wishes to sell but wants the proceeds to go to the Guard rather than the state general fund. The Military Justice bill (S.2611) would provide this mechanism; the bill has passed the Senate and is in House Ways & Means. I have asked the Lt. Gov. to assist in moving this forward. Once the bill is passed, we would proceed with an appraisal and survey. Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) reports a municipal transfer would be in the range of 25 cents on the dollar.
MADOT Meeting: We met with Paul Stedman, District 4 Highway Director and Frank Suszynski, Project Development Engineer on Oct 2nd to review the status of several projects.
Clipper City Rail Trail II: The plan is to close out this project, excluding the contaminated section behind the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF), by December. Temporary markings for rerouting the trail from Joppa along Water St. to Lime St. will be completed as well as the temporary erosion controls behind the WWTF. Additionally, the contractor is completing the punch list. We have summarized the current status in a letter to Lt. Gov. Polito asking for release of the funding in the Environmental Bond Bill to move the cleanup forward. We also asked MADOT to reach out to the administration in support of this next phase to clean up the contamination and complete our trail connection.
Safe Routes to School: The plans are at 100% design and further review of some of the grading issues has been requested by DPS to MADOT. They will review and we are hoping to bid this project in late spring.
Rt. 1 Traffic Circle: MADOT has hired a consultant team to review this area and will be presenting options to the state by the end of December. We will hold any design work with the $75K allocation until we meet to review the consultant’s work.
Combined Sewer Stormwater Overflows: As I had previously reported, MADEP met with the Merrimack Valley Mayors and Managers several months ago to provide information on CSOs, I forwarded those slides to City Councilors. The Merrimack River Watershed Council met with me last week to discuss CSOs and will be presenting additional information on the data they have been collecting with the Mayors and Managers tomorrow. I have also sent both slide presentations to Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito to provide them with an update on this worsening situation. The only action at a legislative level is a bill to notify downriver communities and we need a much stronger program with immediate notification, testing and the ability to inform residents, visitors and boaters. Gulf of Maine students were conducting water sampling and posting notices at Cashman two years ago and we need to upgrade and reinstate a timely and comprehensive notification program.
MMA Mayors Meeting: Joe Sullivan, Mayor of Braintree hosted and the meeting was focused on waste management. Commissioner Marty Suuberg provided an update on MA efforts and local communities discussed recycling programs.
Mental Health Services: past efforts have been made to bring additional MH services into our schools and community for families and youth without much success. The BEACON coalition has hosted a MH providers group for years and this has been a priority issue due to long wait lists and limited providers. The Home for Little Wanderers has developed a North Shore division and is providing MH services in several schools. We met with the Executive Director, Lesli Suggs, President & CEO and Home staff to begin work on this new partnership. Please see their website for more about this agency- www.thehome.org. Further efforts were discussed with Deborah Smith, Executive Director and staff of Pettengill House to expand services and support a Social Worker position with Youth Services. More information about their services may be found at www.PettengillHouse.org
Merrimack River Beach Alliance: The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) presented the long awaited study on the impact of the jetty repairs on Plum Island. It was a synopsis of past studies citing earlier research of Hubbard (1975), Kraus (2008) and Fallon (2015) and the cyclical nature of accretion and erosion patterns. Recommendations included beneficial use placement of sand on NE shore and Section 204 study for the dredging of the Merrimack River. Documents relating to S.204 are posted on the ACOE New England District website- www.nae.usace.army.mil.
Senior Community Center: The friends of the Council on Aging celebrated the 3 year anniversary of the Senior Center and presented awards to all the donors who helped close the funding gap.
YWCA and Affordable Housing at Hillside Sustainability Community: Lt. Gov. Polito and Undersecretary Janelle Chan of the Department of Housing and Community Development were in Newburyport last week to present a check to the YWCA for $600,000. The YWCA partnership with Hillside Center for Sustainable Living will be another opportunity to provide ten affordable units that will not only provide a roof over residents’ heads, but will provide a unique living experience as residents enjoy all of the amenities of the hillside community. This project, funded through the commonwealth’s Community Scale Housing Initiative program and the Community Preservation Act, will long serve as a model for the development of small-scale affordable housing.
Water Department Emergency Response Training: On Oct. 5th AECOM provided the first in a series of trainings for DPS in responding to a water supply emergency and updated sections of their comprehensive protocol.
Coast Guard Auxiliary Building: My understanding is you will be taking the RFP out of committee tonight. This is an important move that has the potential to save this historically significant building. The RFP is focused on a creating a partnership with Coast Guard Auxiliary who use the building for monthly trainings and a nonprofit educational and environmental program.