February 11, 2019
Donna D. Holaday
Washing DC Trip: On Jan. 29th, the Plum Island Foundation and the Warwick Group Consultants arranged the DC trip for meetings with our federal legislators and Army Corps of Engineers to advocate for the dredging of the Merrimack River. Bob Connors, representing the PI Foundation, Geoff Walker, Newbury Selectman, Dan Ginolfi and Mark Sarkady, representing the Warwick Group and I, met with Senator Ed Markey, Congressman Seth Moulton, Cathy Shumann, Regional Integration Team Leader ACOE HQ, and Bruno Freitas, Chief of Staff for Senator Elizabeth Warren. Our meetings were very positive and Senator Markey agreed to host a meeting with our new ACOE District staff to continue to advance this important dredging project.
Brown School: Councilors Eigerman and Zeid have rescheduled the meeting to Wed, Feb. 13th at 7 PM due to impending storm. As you know our initial efforts to renovate the Brown School included housing, youth services, gym and playground was too dense and the space could not accommodate all of those needs. The City Council was clear that wanted a disposition for Youth Services before they would consider another proposal for the site. Efforts ensued looking for a new home for Youth Services and I began inquiries with the National Guard on the possibility of the City purchasing the Emergency Operations Building across from the Middle School. The Guard wanted revenues from the sale of five properties, the EOC being one, to go directly to their budget and not the State General Fund. This required passage of legislation, the Military Justice Bill which was signed by Governor Baker on Jan. 3rd. We have been working with the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) who is assigning a real estate project manager to work with the city with an estimated time line of 6 months to complete the transfer. In the interim we would like to bring in a consultant who can provide more details of the status of the EOC building and estimates to build/renovate the building to meet Youth Services need, including keeping the existing gym and location or building a new gym with the potential new site.
The Newburyport Affordable Housing Trust is also requesting a change in use of $30,000 from Community Preservation Committee FY19 allocation to further assess affordable housing at this site. I would encourage your support of this request in full or a potential lesser amount to aid in this process.
Paid Parking Kiosks:
The kiosks are 9+ years old and need to be replaced; we anticipated this when we initiated the paid parking program. Technologies have changed and we are now using a pay-by-license plate system which is problematic with the existing Parkeon/Flowbird kiosks. We receive complaints regularly about the kiosks not working, difficult to use with cash/credit depending on machine, poor lighting and more. The system will be a significant improvement, compatible with new apps to pay via cell phones as well as overall more user friendly. I understand there have been some concerns raised regarding the NRA lots, but the existing arrangement has been for the city to keep all resident and business sticker fees as well as all fines. The contract with the NRA will be rewritten to support the new land ownership of the Waterfront Trust as the NRA completes the land transfers. There is an 8-10 week lead time for ordering and installation and I encourage your support of this transfer.
Transfers: Two transfers are before you tonight that I discussed in my last update. One is for the gap funding, $40,000 to move forward on the design, permitting and clean-up of the PCBs on the Rail Trail II. The other, $45,000 is for the completion of the appraisals, potential compensation and temporary construction easements for 8-10 properties on High St. required for the Safe Routes to School project. Geordie Vining has provided supportive documentation with these two transfer requests.
Complete Streets: Thank you to the 50+ residents that attended the public meeting to provide feedback on the initial priorities identified for street redesign. We are reviewing the feedback and will be identifying the highest priority project that can be completed within the grant budget cap of $400,000.
FD & Fire-based EMS: The report from the consultant regarding the feasibility of the city initiating fire-based EMS is in your packet as a communication. I would appreciate your feedback and questions and will work with President Connell on the best process to do so.
We are in the process of reviewing the proposals for the feasibility and conceptual design study of the John F. Cutter Station to select a consultant.
FY20 Budget: Both the school and city staff are actively working on the narratives and budgets for their respective departments. Although there is encouraging news about the infusion of $3.3B of funding in statewide education funding by FY26, we currently see very little change in c.70 for FY20. We will continue to keep all updated as the Governor’s House 1 budget moves through the legislative process and where we need your assistance with advocacy.
Garage/Intermodal Facility: Winter conditions have caused slight delays but we are looking at mid to late April for substantial completion. Overall Heery, OMP and G & R Construction have done a very good job on this project, meeting deadlines, issuing minimal change orders and we are currently on target with the budget. We are initiating meetings next week to address the operations of the facility and final documents with MVRTA. Questions were raised last week about Pleasant St. paving, this will happen after the construction is complete and construction vehicles will no longer be on the road. We are also identifying the consultant to complete the final traffic study this summer following the opening of the garage as required by the Planning Board.
DPS Roads and Sidewalks FY20 Construction: We are reviewing the priority streets and sidewalks for the next construction season. Despite all of our advocacy with MA Municipal Association, it does not look like we shall see an increase in our c. 90 funding this year, roughly $515,000. We anticipate having the projected list to you by your next meeting.
Upcoming Storm Tuesday Feb. 12th: 3-5 inches is predicted for tomorrow beginning mid afternoon. The blue lights will be turned on at 7 AM with parking ban taking effect at 3 PM throughout the city until further notice.