January 13, 2019
Mayor Donna D. Holaday
Clipper City Rail Trail Clean Up: The City’s contractor NRC conducted the primary excavation of the PCB-contaminated soil in late December, excavating about 280 cubic yards, and sent the material off to a licensed disposal facility in Michigan. Credere Associates conducted some post-excavation sampling during the first week of January, and the results from the laboratory analysis are beginning to arrive this week of 1/13/20. There are likely to be a handful of areas which will need some additional excavation and disposal. So far, there are only two spots where the lab results indicate a need for the contractor to excavate a bit more soil, and a tighter grid of samples will be conducted in those identified areas to guide the follow-up excavation. Once the sampling and excavation is completed, NRC will decontaminate its equipment and back fill and restore the excavated portion of the corridor. Depending on weather and analytical results, we continue to anticipate project completion by around the end of January.
Clipper City Rail Trail Phase III: The City was awarded a $400,000 Complete Streets grant for the final connection of the rail trail from Parker St., across State St. and Rt. 1. MADOT had contracted with Howard Stein and Hudson to complete a study of the Rt. 1 rotary. We had a productive meeting at MADOT District 4 in late August and with the Complete Streets grant we will begin active meetings to collaborate and coordinate the work with the Complete Streets grant. TEC is presently working on design.
NRA Deed request: We delivered the deeds and all associated documentation to the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading through Representative Kelcourse’s Office this last Friday, January 10. We anticipate that the Committee now has all the information and materials needed to recommend the Bill for House vote. We will provide additional updates as new information becomes available.
NYS Family to Family Holiday Program: 235 families were supported through this program. My sincerest thanks to Youth Services and all of the individuals and families that adopted a family to ensure they had a nice holiday.
Legislative Priority Meeting with Senator DiZoglio and Representative Kelcourse: I met with Senator DiZoglio and Representative Kelcourse on Tuesday January 7th to discuss legislative priorities for the City as well as priorities for the City related to the 2021 State budget. Highlights included the passage of the City’s Home Rule Petition for the dissolution of the NRA, release of funding from the Environmental Bond (Plum Island and protection of the Wastewater Treatment Facility), potential for a state driven Public Safety Bond to assist communities with public safety buildings (Fire Station), school funding, affordable housing, revisions to C. 41C ½, CSOs, and C. 90 funding increases for roads and sidewalks.
Meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers in Concord on Dredging Projects and Beach Nourishment: I was joined by our state delegates and officials from Newbury and Salisbury to get an update from the Army Corps of Engineers at their Regional Office in Concord on the status of several initiatives related to river dredging and the placement of dredge material on or near Plum Island. The Piscataqua River could be dredged as early as next year, and the materials from that dredge are permitted to be deposited in near shore locations along the Plum Island coast. The Army Corps will know this spring whether this project will receive the necessary Federal Funds.
The Corps is also pursuing the maintenance dredging of the Merrimack River. The goal is to receive funding for this project to begin as soon as 2022. On a parallel path, the Army Corps is also undergoing the necessary 204 Study to determine whether the dredged sand from the Merrimack could be placed directly on the Reservation Terrace dunes. Army Corps needs to determine whether it’s economically feasible for them to share the additional cost of placing this sand on the beach, and the 204 Study should be completed this summer. Their preliminary Federal Interest Determination (FID) indicated that it would be economically feasible and triggered the Corps to proceed with the full 204 study. The Army Corps under the 204 Study would cover 65% of the cost to place the sand onshore, and the City would work with the State and DCR on the remaining cost.
The Army Corps is also conducting 103 Studies for Salisbury and Newbury to determine whether the Army Corps would cover the maintenance cost of restoring dune systems they funded and constructed several years ago. Though not directly related to the City of Newburyport, it is important to mention this because there are several efforts the Army Corps is pursuing to protect our barrier beaches, both in Newburyport and our neighboring communities. We hope all projects receive the necessary Federal Funds, and we are working through our State and Federal legislative delegation and the Merrimack River Beach Alliance to encourage the Federal-level decision makers to release the funds.
MEMA Plum Island Site Visit Nov. 14th with follow up meetings Dec. 10 and Jan. 13: The Army Corps dredging projects could yield a significant amount of sand for our barrier beaches in the next 2 to 3 years, but Plum Island, particularly Reservation Terrace, needs attention immediately. The dune system there has completely eroded away, and we have held several meetings with MEMA, DCR, and our state legislative delegation on forming near term actions that could provide some relief. We are in direct contact with both agencies at the secretary level and are formulating a plan and funding request to the state to provide short term solutions, which could include another beach nourishment. We have provided site visits to staff of both agencies, as well as staff from DEP and CZM to make sure they fully understand the dire situation.
Crow Lane Landfill Closure Meeting with DEP: I arranged a meeting with key stakeholders to review the agreement and procedures for DEP to issue an official closure of the Crow Lane landfill. The closure is a critical step that will allow Blue Wave Solar to install a solar array on the capped landfill. This was a long arduous process for the City, particularly for the abutting neighborhoods. The draft agreement with New Ventures on the closure of the landfill is in the review period, and I am working with the stakeholder group on submitting our official comments to DEP this week.
Phillips Drive Neighborhood Public Meeting: On Jan. 7th a follow up meeting was held with neighborhood residents to review the status of studies and work completed to date. The next step is to secure an outside engineering consultant to design the construction project. All documents relating to Phillips Drive are posted on DPS website: https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/department-of-public-services/engineering-division/pages/phillips-drive-drainage
DCAMM Public Hearing and Appraisal: DCAMM held a public hearing last week on Jan. 8th as part of their process to convey the approximate 2 acres that include the Auxillary Building from the National Guard to the City. DCAMM will also be providing us the appraisal report and cost to the City of Newburyport in the coming weeks.
Additionally, RFP for the feasibility study for Youth Services to remain at Brown School or relocate to Low St. is posted with 21 companies picking up RFP; site walks were completed last week and proposal are due in two weeks.
Snow Emergency Policy – Dec. 10 Public Meeting and Plan: We hosted a public meeting on the City’s Snow and Ice Plan and Snow Emergency Parking Policy last month. The presentation and recording of the presentation are posted on the DPS webpage. The year’s Snow and Ice Plan is also available on this DPS webpage as well. https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/sites/newburyportma/files/uploads/snow_and_ice_plan_2019-2020_1.pdf
Staff Training, Dealing with Difficult People Dec. 12: City Staff participated in a training provided through our insurer MIIA on how to deal with difficult people. Unfortunately, there have been recent incidences between City staff and the general public that have resulted in the need to call for police intervention. This training provided some information on how to de-escalate tense situations. The Administration will continue to identify staff trainings to help staff obtain necessary skills, to ensure a safe, secure, and productive working environment and to improve our delivery of services. Participation in the MIIA trainings also results in the rewarding of points that go towards reducing insurance costs.
Cutter Fire Station: We will be requesting additional funds for Winter St. Architects to complete the feasibility study and conceptual design for the new site on Storey Ave. across from C&J. We are also asking Winter Street to provide an overview of the potential to relocate offices, emergency ops and training from HQ to this site and the impact to this station’s need for capital upgrades.
Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors and Managers Breakfast Forum: Event was held on Jan 10th and we were joined by Lt. Gov. Polito.
NCM Hub Recording: Utilizing the approved transfer from last month, NCM Hub is prepared to begin broadcasting and recording Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings this month.
Plummer Springs Bridge: The Plummer Springs Bridge was officially closed to vehicular traffic in May of 2018 due to severe deterioration of the structure and related safety hazards. Since then, the City has been working collaboratively with the Town of West Newbury on a plan to replace the bridge. The City successfully applied for a $500,000 Small Bridge Grant from MassDOT and hired the engineering firm BSC to survey, develop, and provide preliminary design for replacement options for the bridge. BSC presented bridge options at the September 23rd public meeting held in West Newbury, and there was broad consensus that a bridge option with a sidewalk on one side was favored in order to provide a segregated crossing over the bridge for pedestrians as well as provide a platform area for fishing. We have been working with the Town on formulating an agreement that formalizes an equal cost share for the bridge because it spans both communities. The Town of West Newbury was recently awarded $1 million through the MassWorks program for the construction of the bridge. With the cost of the estimated at $2.6 million by BSC, each community would cover half of the remaining cost not covered by the grants, currently $1.1 million. The project will be in the design and permitting phase through the spring of 2021 and construction is estimated to begin in the summer of 2021 with a year of construction. More information will be provided at the next City Council meeting.
Inauguration Ceremonies: I attended the inauguration of Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove and Haverhill Mayor Jim Fiorentini.
State of the City, February 6th: I will be delivering my State of the City Thursday evening, February 6, 2020 at 7 PM in the Senior Community Center.