September 14, 2020
Mayor Donna D. Holaday
Reservation Terrace Shoreline Stabilization: We had a good discussion at the Budget and Finance Subcommittee meeting. I want to reiterate the importance of approving the $50,000 transfer request to funding this shoreline stabilization project. This project will provide much needed protection to hopefully get us through the upcoming storm season. There appears to be movement from the State to provide funding to increase the scope of this project. The $50,000 transfer funds a single layer wall of supersacs across Reservation Terrace. Acquiring funding from the State would allow us install an additional course to increase the height of the wall, as recommended by GZA. Residents have also been raising money to help fund this project, some of which will helps extend the supersac wall to 77th Street. Thank you to Budget & Finance Subcommittee for your recommendation for approval and we can begin mobilizing and ordering materials upon vote of the full Council tonight.
Algae Bloom Update – After several weeks of treating both the Upper and Lower Artichoke Reservoirs, I am happy to report that the algae bloom has officially been eradicated. Our limnologist consultants have both confirmed this. Thank you to DPS, specifically our Water Superintendent Tom Cusick and his team at the Water Division for working so diligently on resolving this issue. They will continue to monitor and sample the reservoirs and are developing near term and long-term plans to prevent future blooms. The impact of local agricultural use in nearby properties to our reservoirs is one of the main causes. Recently we sent an enforcement letter to an abutting farm and so far, they have had cooperated on compliance, including installing a fence to keep livestock out of the reservoirs and an overall reduction of livestock on the farm.
We will be announcing this week changes to the Water Restriction that will allow for watering twice a day from 6AM to 9AM and 6PM to 9PM on alternating days between odd and even address numbers citywide. While the eradication of the algae bloom allows us to loosen the water restrictions, we are still experiencing drought conditions locally and need to restrict water use.
MVP Grant for Berm and Revetment: I am pleased to report that the State is awarding a $1 million MVP grant to fund the construction of the berm and revetment behind the Waste Water Treatment Plant. I will be submitting the grant acceptance to the City Council for your September 29th meeting, as well as a request to release the $150,000 CPA funding approved by the CPC for this project. That funding and the $100,000 Mass Trails grant helps cover the match for the remaining cost of this project, and we are working to provide a plan to fund the entire remaining cost of the project for the next City Council meeting. It will most likely include consolidating funds from existing capital accounts. We were fortunate to receive the $1 million grant to make our Waste Water Treatment Plant more resilient to coastal storm surges and flooding and the grant will allow us to begin construction on the berm and revetment as early as this winter.
Clipper City Rail: PCB Clean-up Update: Back fill is nearly complete. We are awaiting one more test result of soils on WWTP property but still expect the area to be opened to informal use by the end of September.
September Primary Elections: I’d like to thank City Clerk and his staff for effectively overseeing the Primary Elections. With the addition of mail in ballots and high turnout of voters our Clerks office and all the election workers worked especially hard to facilitate a smooth primary election. These are in unprecedented times for voting and the Clerks Office have risen to the occasion. We will be working with Rich to make sure he has enough staff and resources for an the even larger General Election.
Grants for Small Businesses and Rental Assistance: We still have available grant funding available for small businesses and residential renters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Affordable Housing Trust has made available up to 3 months of rent for residential renters, and those interested can contact Pettengill House directly: http://pettengillhouse.org/newburyport_rent_assistance.aspx
As far as the small business grant, our CDBG grant administrator in Amesbury has received 14 applications from Newburyport businesses so far. Applications and FAQs for this program can be found on the City of Amesbury website: https://www.amesburyma.gov/community-economic-development/webforms/small-business-relief-grant-program. Please help us spread the word on these programs.
Creation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Alliance: This past Thursday I made an open call for applications for membership of our new DEI Alliance. Applications are due on Friday, September 25th. Instructions on how to apply are available on the City website.
Acts of 1987: The Acts of 1987, specifically changing the City Council’s role in the school budget process, requires joint approval by the City Council and the Mayor. A recent court decision for Boston involving their mayor and city council confirms this joint approval. My administration has diligently focused on adding funding to our schools over the past decade. We begin our budgeting process at the November joint meeting with the City Council and School Committee, and we start our budgeting assuming a 3.5% increase to school funding. But there has never been a budget passed in my tenure when the schools only received a 3.5% increase. The School budget increase has always been higher than 3.5%. School budgeting is in the purview of the Superintendent and the School Committee. I will not support adopting the Acts of 1987.