January 28th, 2019
Donna D. Holaday
January 20th Winter Storm: This was a difficult storm due to the changing temperatures and conditions from snow to sleet. I take full responsibility for the problems we had with this storm. We have had follow up meetings to make adjustments. Here are the highlights of the many issues. The crews worked from 10 PM Saturday until 2 PM on Sunday- initially salting until the temperatures dropped below 19° and then switching to calcium chloride. We were short staffed with 3 staff out ill. The recently promoted General Foreman stepped down and our key dispatcher for plow operations was on vacation. We had major piece of equipment go down and we are waiting on delivery of two new trucks for plowing. We cannot use the two wing plows until the new trucks arrive. Many of our DPS staff and contractors are new and have not plowed in the city. We have a new Deputy Director and this was his first snow event in this position. We also had a major issue with residents snowplowing snow into the streets which is prohibited. Finally on nearly every street people moved their cars onto the street before the snow emergency was lifted, preventing additional clearing. Information regarding snow and ice removal is posted on the DPS website and remains current. Residents can help by not snow blowing or throwing snow into the street. Residents will be fined during future snow events if they throw snow on the street and disrupt plowing. Please remember residents should clear their sidewalks, make sure hydrants on your street are clear, follow timelines for snow emergencies and, if possible, help keep storm drains clear.
Merrimac Valley Chamber Annual Mayors & Managers Breakfast: The annual event was held on Jan. 14th at the Andover Country Club where each municipal leader presents highlights of their community. We were honored to have Lt. Governor Polito join us, Andrew Flanagan, Town Manager of Andover, Andrew Maylor, Town Manager of N. Andover and Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence were recognized for their incredible work following the gas explosions.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s Inauguration: It was a pleasure to attend AG Healey’s inauguration at Emmerson Theater on Jan. 16. It was a warm and inclusive event. She vows to continue her work as the People’s Attorney in addressing the opioid crisis, taking a leadership role on clean energy and addressing climate change, continuing gun violence prevention efforts, and supporting new funding for education to help all students in Massachusetts succeed.
The 40th Annual MA Municipal Association Meeting & Trade Show Jan. 18th & 19th: This annual event was well attended by city staff and Councillors Connell, Tontar, Vogel, Shand and Kahn. Over 28 workshops on key topics, Learning Labs, key meetings and the trade show were offered. Gov. Baker spoke on his Climate Change initiate; Sen. Spilka was the keynote at the Women Elected to Municipal Office luncheon; and Sen. Markey and Sen. Warren held a breakfast meeting with the mayors.
Washington DC & PI: The Warrick Consultant Group has been working with the Plum Island Foundation and tomorrow is our rescheduled trip to DC to meet with Army Corps of Engineers HQ staff, Sen. Markey, Sen. Warren and Congressman Moulton to advocate for the dredging of the Merrimac River, the 204 study and dune nourishment.
We also held an internal meeting with DPS, Conservation Administrator, Mayors Office, Emergency Management and Councillor Zeid to strategize on a regular plan for dune nourishment. We are working on several fronts to develop a funding source, to maintain the required permitting for sand placement and to update our Beach Management Plan.
Rail Trail Phase II: The temporary erosion controls are in place behind the Wastewater Treatment facility. It is important that we move forward on the engineering and clean up before there is a major wash out and we must restart the process. We are using the MVPC Brownfields grant funds to complete the bid package with Stantec ($93,800) and CPA funds for re-engineering and permitting ($177,850). We will need a Free Cash transfer to for the gap funding of approximately $40,000 for the re-engineering and permitting. Further details will be forthcoming from Geordie Vining. We are also applying for a MA Trails grant and additional CPA funds to complete the actual clean up estimated at $213,000. The redesign of the actual trail will require funding from the State Environmental Bond Bill which we have sent detailed information to the Lt. Governor.
Seabrook Nuclear Plant: I am very pleased to report that the advocacy from Sen Markey, Sen. Warren and Congressman Moulton was successful in delaying the extension of the nuclear power plant license by the NRC until after the public hearing to be held this summer.
Governor’s House 1 Budget and C. 70 Reform: A conference call was held on Jan. 23rd to reveal the Governor’s plan to infuse $3.3B into education funding by FY26. They are prioritizing the Foundation Review Committee recommendations – health benefits, ELL, economically disadvantaged students and special education. This is considered a transition year and we are not seeing much assistance for Newburyport in the H1 budget but we can continue to work with our legislators to push for more funding and adjust charter school funding.
Waste ad hoc committee: The committee has been working diligently to study waste in our city for the past 6 months. They are tasked with identifying recommendations to incentivize all to reduce the amount of waste in our city. Their recommendations will be presented at your next CC on Feb. 11th and I ask that everyone be patient until then and not speculate on outcomes.
Fire-based EMS: We received a very comprehensive final report from our consultant on operating our own ambulance service. Councillors will receive the report in their next CC packet as a communication to review. There is significant work that must be advanced to move the EMS procees forward, including collective bargaining with the Firefighters union.
Special Support Fund: The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank and the Derek Hines Foundation have established an account to help our Coast Guard families through this difficult time. The Newburyport Bank has seeded the fund with $1,000 and the Hines Foundation has already distributed $3,100 to Coast Guard families. Any Newburyport Five Cent Savings Bank branch will accept donations and donations can also be made online through the Hines Foundation – https://derekhinesfund.com/donations/newburyport-coast-guard/
Complete Streets: TEC will be presenting their findings of the areas in the city that could benefit from a Complete Streets redesign. The areas are rated as high, medium and low priorities. We anticipate applying for our first round of $400,000 grant funding this spring. Meeting is Jan. 31st at 7 pm in City Hall auditorium. The draft plan is available on the City Website: https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/planning-development/complete-streets
State of the City: The annual State of the City address will be presented on Wednesday Feb 6th at 7 pm at the Senior Community Center. This is a public event and I encourage all to attend.