Mayor Donna D. Holaday
December 10th, 2018
Ballot Question & Marijuana Retail: First, my sincerest thank you to all the City Councilors who have worked diligently to address the zoning issues regarding cultivation and retail sales of marijuana. You have fielded dozens of emails, phone calls, met with residents and held numerous meetings as well as heard public comment over many meetings. It has become clear that a significant number of residents are in opposition to retail shops in our city. They have organized a petition drive and obtained the 10% requisite number of signatures to place the question of yes/no to retail shops on a ballot in an upcoming election. I will support this effort and request and will place the question before the voters for the municipal election in November 2019. We will not be holding a special election this spring for property tax relief seniors as the full initiative will not be ready to roll out and we need the entire community to weigh in on this as with retail sales.
Safe Routes to School: We began this project over two years ago and were so very pleased to be accepted into this highly competitive federal-state program typically awarded to 1-2 communities in the state each year. This $2 million project will improve sidewalks, ramps and streets while creating much safer routes for walkers and bikers along High Street to the Nock/Molin School and High School. The neighborhood response has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive. Some modifications have been made to address the historic nature of High Street but there are limitations on this process. The School Committee voted unanimously to support the Safe Routes to School Project at our last meeting on Dec. 1st. A follow up meeting for the residents and abutters was held on Dec. 5th with positive feedback. I encourage your positive vote on this important project for our city.
Parks: We held a very positive and productive meeting with members of the Pioneer League Board on November 20th and working towards an agreement on field maintenance. We also discussed this area on Merrimac St. as being one of our priorities for a Complete Streets review.
We are continuing work on the build out of 51R Water St. to provide new office space for the Parks Department through a lease agreement with NED. Additionally, a storage facility on Colby Farm Lane to hold vehicle and equipment for the Parks Department continues to move forward.
Complete Streets: The City has been awarded a planning grant to work with the engineering firm TEC to prioritize 10 to 15 areas of Newburyport that we believe would benefit from a Complete Streets redesign. Our first public meeting is this Thursday, Dec. 13th at 7 pm in City Hall Auditorium. A review of the program will be presented and then the public will be invited to review ward maps and identify areas they believe would be appropriate for a Complete Streets review. After this process is complete, we then select the higher priority, most shovel-ready project and apply for construction funding.
Landfill: Closure continues to be in the hands of DEP and the Office of the Attorney General but New Ventures (NV) has signed a lease with Blue Wave to install a solar array. DEP believes the desire by NV to permit this project will aid in advancing the closure process. We are working on a follow up meeting with Blue Wave and DEP.
Graf Road Lift Station: We toured the new Lift Station on Dec. 3rd. Pumps, the Motor Control Center (MCC), the Instrument Control Panel (ICP), wet wells, and stairs are all installed and completed in the station. The startup process is underway which will take a few weeks but we are close to substantial completion. The project continues to be on budget.
Phillips Drive: We are committed to continuing work in this neighborhood. To date the hydrology assessment was initiated; DPS crews installed a subdrain on the hill to capture any groundwater before heading to the surface; and a subdrain was installed on the foot of this hill and cost-shared by the city. The Hancock Survey is currently 90% complete with the field survey of the entire neighborhood. Once the survey is completed, we will review the findings with the residents and develop a multi-phase capital plan. A small water main leak from Sullivan Street that impacted Drew Street was repaired last week.
November 4Q Water Sampling: I am pleased to report that the November water sampling yielded excellent results for all four City sample sites and the City is in full compliance with MADEP for the fourth quarter. Last quarter residents were notified by the Water Division that one of the sampling sites had Trihalomethanes (TTHM) samples that exceeded the compliance average limit in the third quarter (August) sampling. These results were not typical for the City’s water system, and several other Massachusetts communities had similar elevated third quarter TTHM sampling results. The City consulted with MADEP and one of its primary water consultants with a long working relationship and vast institutional knowledge with the City’s water system and decided to modify the fall hydrant flushing program that was implemented in September and October. This decision contributed to the significantly lower quarterly sample site results. Similar modifications will be made to upcoming flushing programs in an effort to maintain consistent future sampling results and increase the overall water quality throughout the water distribution system.
One Boston Way/ MINCO: The long awaited ground breaking for One Boston Way will happen on Dec. 17th at 8:30 am at Metzy’s Cantina. Lt. Gov. Polito and Secretary Ash are scheduled to join us. The 76 rental units will provide 25% affordability but through the 40R program all 76 units will be counted towards our Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI).
Merrimack River Watershed Council: On Friday, Dec. 7th I had the opportunity to give one of the key note addresses at the State of the Waters 2018 conference. It was an opportunity to highlight many of our initiatives to address climate change as well as discuss combined stormwater sewage overflows. Several meetings are occurring over the CSO notification bill number 2617 as well as informational meetings around the region by MRWC to increase awareness of the issue.
Members of the MRWC with EPA Region I discussing Mapping and Merrimack River Monitoring
Merrimack River Dredging: The legislative delegation trip to DC was postponed on Dec. 5th because of the National Day of Morning in honor of the late president George H.W. Bush’s funeral. We anticipate rescheduling for the end of January. We are advocating with Army Corps of Engineers for another river dredge and beneficial placement of the sand.
Budget Award: I am pleased to report that for the 7th year in a row the City of Newburyport has received the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
Waterfront West: Thank you Councilor Eigerman and members of the ad hoc group that have devoted many hours to the discussion of the design and development of Waterfront West. Your work will have a positive impact on advancing a complex and difficult process.
Personnel: Jamie Tuccolo- It is with great pleasure that I announce that Jamie Tuccolo has assumed the role of DPS Deputy Director.
Kate Newhall-Smith- We will be saying good-by to Kate Newhall-Smith, Planner in the Planning Office who will be leaving her position on Dec. 21st and will be taking a Principal Planner position in Salem.
Shop local and enjoy the invitation nights!