funding

Bucchiere Park offers warm-weather fun

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Bucchiere Park is open after renovations were completed Thursday.

SAUGUS Children are enjoying the warm weather and the newly completed Bucchiere Park, which opened Thursday night.

The park, known commonly as Bristow Street Park, was renovated with funding from Town Meeting in 2016. The Bristow Street playground is one of three public parks that have seen major improvement since last summer, when the town broke ground at the Veterans Park outside the Veterans Memorial Elementary School on Hurd Avenue.

Overall, the park improvement projects cost the town $2 million.

The playground has a large, handicap-accessible play area with swings, slides, and a see-saw. The existing field has been irrigated and now includes a 10-foot tall, 30-foot long lacrosse wall and a T-ball field has been rehabilitated with a new infield, backstop, bleachers, and players’ benches. There is a new basketball court, bathroom, storage shed, and concession stand.

A track surrounds the area and a series of workout stations are on site.

Malden gets green to go green

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — This city has $332,540 in state money to spend on expanding its status as a Green Community.

The state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Department of Energy Resources credited City Councilor Craig Spadafora, who also serves as the chair of the Energy Efficiency Commission, and Public Facilities Director Eric Rubin, for meeting the Green Communities Designation and Grant Program’s five criteria.

The standards include creating a research and development zoning in place for light manufacturing or renewable energies; setting an energy baseline with a plan to reduce energy usage by 20 percent and developing a fuel efficiency vehicle policy.

Meeting the criteria has Malden poised to reduce its energy costs, improve the local environment, and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with funding through the Green Communities Designation and Grant program.

The designation comes a month after the state Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change had a hearing in Melrose to get input from citizens on pressing issues in clean energy and climate.

Words to live by

Committee members posed this question to hearing attendees: How do you think the state legislature should monitor or regulate energy use and related issues to help keep Massachusetts healthy, sustainable and strong?

Massachusetts is now the national leader in energy efficiency, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Local communities have certainly done their part to contribute to this ranking.

Medford was one of the first in the area to be designated a “Green Community” in the state and also among the first to establish a specific agency in its municipal government to embrace and promote “green”/clean energy.

Malden quickly followed suit and also has attained the “Green Community” designation, as has Melrose.

According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the clean energy sector now employs 105,212 workers across the Commonwealth, an increase of 75 percent, or 45,000 jobs, since 2010. The clean energy sector has become an important part of the overall Massachusetts economy, contributing $11.8 billion in economic activity in 2015.  

 

St. Mary’s breaks ground on STEM building

COURTESY PHOTO
Participating in the groundbreaking Wednesday for a new gateway entrance and STEM building at St. Mary’s were, from left; Paul Price, trustee; Bruce Gordon, president, Columbia Construction; William Mosakowski, Chair, Board of Trustees; Glenn Morris, Chair, Building Futures campaign; James Ridley, Principal; Grace Cotter Regan, Head of School; Rev. Brian Flynn, Pastor, St. Mary’s Parish; James Lyle, trustee; Marnie Moore, trustee; Darrin Ball, Building Committee; and Susan Blanchard, trustee.

By PAUL HALLORAN

LYNN — St. Mary’s broke ground Wednesday on a building project that will transform the school’s urban campus and significantly upgrade educational opportunities in critical subjects.

About 50 trustees, administrators, alumni and friends gathered in front of the William F. Connell Center, which opened in 2005, for a ceremonial groundbreaking on a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) building and a gateway entrance to the school’s campus.

The three-story glass entrance will be built between the Connell and Cardinal Cushing centers, while the new STEM building will be constructed behind the Connell Center. The annex, which houses the St. Mary’s Advancement staff and the parish chapel, will be torn down, beginning around August 1. The chapel will be relocated.

“St. Mary’s has moved with the times into the 21st century,” said Board of Trustees chair William Mosakowski, referencing the school’s 135-year history. “The requirements now are for students to be far better grounded in science. We need this building and we need these programs in order to provide a robust, comprehensive education for our students.”

The building project will be funded through the Building Futures campaign, which to date has raised almost $15 million. Funds raised during the campaign will also provide scholarship support for students, along with academic and extracurricular programming.

“That’s a remarkable feat,” said Grace Cotter Regan, head of school. “This is a wonderful time for Lynn and we are proud to be part of the great developments that are happening in the city.”

Stop playing name game

Glenn Morris, a St. Mary’s alumnus who serves as chair of the Building Futures campaign, said the new entrance to the school will offer benefits in addition to aesthetics.

“Because it will serve as the central entrance point to the entire campus, it will enhance security,” Morris said, adding that when the project is complete, the Connell Center, Cushing Center and new STEM building will all be connected.

The STEM building will include technologically advanced classrooms, labs and makerspaces – areas where students can use their creativity to design, invent, experiment and build.

“One of the hallmarks of St. Mary’s is that it provides a foundation for students that will help them as they go through life,” Morris said. “Today, there is a groundbreaking. Later this summer, we will be installing a foundation.”

The timeline calls for work to be completed in time for the opening of the 2018-19 school year. Design work is being done by CBT Architects of Boston. North Reading-based Columbia Construction Company is the general contractor.

“As we celebrate 135 years, we are literally building the future,” Regan said. “That is a very exciting proposition.”

Lynn offers discounted home composters

By MATT DEMIRS

LYNN — The city is selling composters at a reduced price to encourage city dwellers to lower  the amount of waste in landfills.

For $25 residents can buy the “Earth Machine,” a home composter. The 80-gallon device retails for $99. So far, more than two dozen have been purchased.

“We are offering these composters to Lynn residents because it will decrease solid waste in the city” said Lisa Nerich, Department of Public Works associate commissioner, in a statement. “More people composting and gardening makes for a better city.”

The city received funding for the project from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

GE volunteers beautify Lynn playgrounds

Instructions for the device call on users to fill the composter with food scraps and yard waste. It should be a three-to-one ratio: three parts dry materials such as paper, leaves and clippings, and one part nitrogen, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. Meat, dairy, or grease should not be added.

Food waste accounts for more than 25 percent of the waste in Massachusetts after recycling, more than one million tons per year, DEP said. By diverting these materials from disposal facilities, it reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and incinerators and conserves natural resources, the agency said.

“Composting is a great way to divert food waste for residents, especially if they garden,” Mary Gatlin of Lynn Community Gardens said in a statement. “The composting process turns organic material, such as food, leaf and yard waste, and waxed cardboard into a rich soil amendment that will improve their garden and lower the carbon footprint of the soil.”

DPW will be offering a training on using the composters on June 17 at a time to be announced. Check the DPW page on the city’s website, lynnma.gov, for more information.


Matt Demirs can be reached at mdemirs@itemlive.com.

Ribbon cutting to be held for Bucchiere Park

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Children and families will join town officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of Bucchiere Park Thursday night.

The park, known commonly as Bristow Street Park, was renovated with funding from Town Meeting in 2016. The Bristow Street playground is one of three public parks that have seen major improvement projects since last summer, when the town broke ground at the Veterans Park outside the Veterans Memorial Elementary School on Hurd Avenue. Overall, the park improvement projects cost the town $2 million.

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The playground has a large, handicap-accessible play area with swings, slides, and a see-saw. The existing field has been irrigated and now includes a 10-foot tall, 30-foot long lacrosse wall and a tee-ball field has been rehabilitated with a new infield, backstop, bleachers, and players’ benches. There is a new basketball court, bathroom, storage shed, and concession stand.

A track surrounds the area and a series of workout stations are on site. The HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness Systems, which are for ages 13 and older, use the latest exercise methodologies to provide a tailored workout for teens and adults, according to Town Manager Scott Crabtree. The park has a squat press, chest and back press, parallel bars, assisted row and push up station, and an ab crunch and leg lift station.

The park has LED lights and security cameras will soon be added to increase safety and security. The park has 15 parking spots.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Saugus looks through lens on fire safety

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Saugus firefighter Paul Sullivan demonstrates the Bullard T3MAX infrared camera on firefighter Ryan Poussad.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — The Saugus Fire Department will purchase three new thermal imaging cameras to assist with rescues, thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“Thermal imaging cameras are fantastic tools to find fire,” said Fire Chief Michael Newbury. “They’re the best tool that I’ve seen in my career to find fire victims.”

The devices cost between $10,000 and $11,000 each and are mounted inside each truck to be used during any situation that includes smoke, said Newbury.

“If you can’t see because of the smoke, you point the camera in the direction of the smoke and it identifies where the hot spot is so you can find the fire and put it out,” said Newbury. “At the same time, you can see people or at least the outline of the body. It picks up on different temperatures so at 98.6 degrees, you could see (a person).”

The cameras are also lent to the Police Department when officers are looking for a missing person. Wooded areas can easily be scanned to identify if a person is there but can’t easily be spotted.

Saugus was one of nine fire departments in the state to receive more than $1.25 million in round six of the 2016 Assistance to Firefighters Grants. The awards are intended to provide critical resources to train and equip emergency personnel to meet official standards, increase efficiency and interoperability, and help make departments and the communities they serve more resilient.

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Other towns received money for breathing apparatuses, rapid intervention packs, sprinkler systems, chest compression devices, power stretchers, and training costs.

“Our firefighters play an integral role in keeping our communities safe,” said U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) in a statement. “They deserve top-quality equipment to do their jobs, and this federal grant will enable the Saugus Fire Department to upgrade its thermal imaging cameras so they can quickly and safely fight fires and save lives. I am grateful to FEMA for recognizing the need to invest in our local fire departments.”

Several of the Saugus Fire Departments thermal imaging cameras date back more than a decade. Saugus applied for the grant after searching for parts to repair an old device with a broken screen. Newbury was told the parts are no longer available.

The three new cameras will be secured on Engine 3, Engine 1, and Ladder 1; the station’s three front line vehicles. The older cameras will drop to reserve status and be used as backups until they no longer work, he said.

Newbury said he is grateful Town Manager Scott Crabtree allowed the department to apply for the funding.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemilve.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Swampscott rail trail leads to the polls

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is a map of the proposed rail trail.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Voters will head to the polls later this month to decide whether to allocate funds that would allow plans for a proposed rail trail to move forward.

At Town Meeting, by a 210-56 vote, members approved allocating $850,000 for the design and engineering of the trail location within the National Grid corridor, as well as the legal fees and costs for acquisition of easement rights.

But a group of residents against the trail, including abutters, who have been vocal in their opposition, fought the vote, and spearheaded a citizen’s petition that garnered enough signatures to force a town-wide special election.

The Board of Selectmen have set the special election date for Thursday, June 29, where voters will be presented with the same question voted on and approved at Town Meeting last month.

The citizen’s petition garnered nearly 900 certified signatures, or more than 5 percent of the registered voters needed to challenge a Town Meeting vote, as required by the town charter.

The town charter (Section 2-6) reads that votes, except a vote to adjourn or authorize the borrowing or money in receipt of taxes for the current year, passed at Town Meeting, don’t go into effect for five days, and can be challenged within that timeframe by filing a petition with the Board of Selectmen, asking that the question be submitted to the town’s voters.

Officials have said $240,000 of the funds would be used to hire professionals for design and engineering costs. About $610,000 would be for acquisition of easement rights, where the town would work with the property owners (National Grid and/or other parties) to secure the rights. This may be done through eminent domain or by donation/gift of the land.

The funds would not be for construction of the trail, which would be financed through donations, grants and private funds, officials said.

Officials have said National Grid pays property taxes for the 11 parcels that make up the utility corridor, but doesn’t have clear title on all of them. Through a title process, numerous owners have been identified, which could include abutters.

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The two-plus mile, 10-foot wide trail would run from the Swampscott Train Station to the Marblehead line at Seaview Avenue, connecting with the Marblehead rail trail, which also links to trails in Salem.

Paul Dwyer, a Swampscott resident who lives along the proposed trail, has said the group decided to start the petition drive after losing the Town Meeting vote. He said previously that people have a problem with eminent domain, which is the wrong thing to do your neighbors, and that with so many financial needs in town, the trail is a luxury and a want more than anything else. He has said the town doesn’t need it and can’t afford it.

Other opposition to the trail has included safety and privacy concerns from neighbors. Residents in support of the trail have spoken about how it would provide free exercise and a way for people to get out in nature.

Naomi Dreeben, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said previously that she thinks Town Meeting is a good representation of the rest of the town, and that she was confident the town-wide vote would be consistent with the Town Meeting vote.

Town Clerk Susan Duplin said an election usually costs the town between $10,000 to $12,000 for things such as ballot printing, poll workers and supplies.

Duplin said ballot questions typically draw a large turnout. For the November 2014 state election, the town had a new school question on the ballot, and a turnout of 67 percent. For the January 2010 special town election, where voters were presented with a question for a new police station, there was a 62 percent turnout.

“Prior history shows questions on the ballot definitely get the voters out,” Duplin said. “With that said, I’m predicting at least a 60 percent voter turnout for the June 29 special election, but (it) could be even more.”

Absentee ballots will be available at least three weeks before the election, no later than June 8. In order to qualify for an absentee ballot, the voter must be unable to vote at the polls on Election Day, because of absence from the voter’s town during normal polling hours, physical disability preventing them from going to the polling place, or religious belief. A family member may also apply for an absentee ballot for the voter, Duplin said.

Voter registration deadline is no later than 8 p.m. on Friday, June 9, and the town clerk’s office will be open for that deadline. Voters will also be able to come in and vote absentee. Early voting only applies to state elections, Duplin said.

Polls will be open during the election at three locations: Precincts 1 & 2 at Swampscott Senior Center, 200 Rear Essex St.; Precincts 3 & 4 at First Church Congregational, 40 Monument Ave.; and Precincts 5 & 6 at Swampscott Middle School, 207 Forest Ave.

Voter registration can be done online, an application can be downloaded, or voting status can be checked at the secretary of state’s website at www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

City councilors eye EpiPen plan

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — It may come down to cost versus benefit as one city councilor looks at a plan to provide first responders with EpiPens.

EpiPen, the brand name for an epinephrine autoinjector, is a medical device for injecting a measured dose or doses of epinephrine, often used for the treatment of anaphylaxis brought on by allergic reactions. Last week, the council’s health and human services committee met with the city’s police and fire chiefs, health director Sharon Cameron, and Kristie DeLoreto, president and founder of the Peabody-based Allergy and Asthma Awareness Initiative.

“I just wanted to have a conversation to see what the starting point is and what it is involved (in supplying first responders with EpiPens),” said Councilor-at-Large Thomas Walsh. “Kristie is the one I had the conversation with and who really asked that we start the conversation.”

DeLoreto said her group has made a lot of progress over the last several years, especially with making sure schools have EpiPens on hand in case a student having an allergic reaction is not carrying one. Exploring the possibility of first responders carrying EpiPens is the next step for the city, she said.

“I really feel so strongly that epinephrine is the only line of defense for reactions with anaphylaxis,” said DeLoreto.

Fire Chief Steve Pasdon said he believes EpiPens provide a great benefit.

Can we have nice things?

“The concern I have is with the cost,” Pasdon said. He said it would cost $7,000 per year for 10 double packs of adult and junior doses for the department.

“I’m totally for it, but I have to balance the budget,” said Pasdon. He noted that the EpiPens only have a shelf life of one year, so would have to be replaced on an annual basis.

“I would like to go out and find a sustainable funding source,” he said.

While the police and fire departments do not currently carry EpiPens, Atlantic Ambulance does equip their vehicles with EpiPens. The pens were used twice in 2017, four times in 2016, and six times in 2015.

Walsh said he would like to continue the discussion on EpiPens for first responders by establishing a working group including DeLoreto, Cameron, and representatives from the police and fire departments and Atlantic Ambulance.

“I know it sounds like a lot of money, but in the instance that an attack occurs, it could be the difference between life and death,” said Walsh.

 

Nahant students reel in Aquarium award

COURTESY PHOTO
Students at the Johnson Elementary School complete field studies as part of the school’s Marine Science program.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — The Johnson Elementary School is the recipient of this year’s Ocean Stewardship Award, which is granted annually by the New England Aquarium to a program that aspires to take an active role in protecting the ocean.

Science teacher Meredith Tibbo and Nahant Education Foundation president Elizabeth Carlson will attend the New England Aquarium’s World’s Ocean’s Day to accept the award on June 4.

“Having the Johnson School teachers and Northeastern University’s outreach staff recognized in this way is a true honor,” said Principal Kevin Andrews in a statement. “Many in the community have worked hard to connect the students’ learning to the many natural resources in their town.”

Last year, Tibbo was awarded the Massachusetts Marine Science Educator of the Year award by Massachusetts Marine Educators.

The school has partnered with Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center to develop a schoolwide academic focus on marine science, ocean literacy, and maritime history, promoting the use of these areas in all disciplines and activities.

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Each class participates in three or more marine science lab activities annually, ranging from learning how marine animals use their senses, to food webs and adaptation on rocky shores.

Classes take full advantage of their coastal surroundings and visit sites with their teachers and Northeastern’s outreach educator, Val Perini. The Council on Aging supports the effort by providing a bus for travel.

Perini and the university have brought programs to the classroom, including a Skype session with a scientist in Antarctica.

The school also uses a community garden behind the building to bring lessons outside. Each grade level maintains a garden bed and students learn about everything from growing to plant anatomy and the social studies connection between gardening and native inhabitants of the area.

The Nahant Education Foundation provides a marine science program with a different focus at each grade level, ranging from Pre-K through grade 6 and provides funding for much of the marine science programming at the school.


Bridget Turcotte can reached at bturcotte@itemilve.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Marshalling a plan for former school building

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — City officials presented a plan to sell the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street on Thursday night, for a potential reuse that could include senior market-rate housing and a commercial component. But school officials opted to take no action.

City Council President Darren Cyr and James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, presented the option to the School Committee, requesting that the 19 Porter St. property be transferred to the Public Property Committee of the City Council to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit bids for its sale to a developer.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, chairwoman of the School Committee, said she was looking for the committee to make a motion to approve the transfer of the site, with a minimum asking price and timeline for when that sale could be complete. If those conditions weren’t met, the property would revert back to the School Committee.

School Committee members opted to set that minimum sales price at $4 million, and require the sale be completed within a year. The other condition set was that a School Committee member, John Ford, would sit on the RFP committee, the board responsible for preparing the document.

Ultimately, the School Committee opted to table a vote on the transfer of the property until their next meeting, upon a motion made by member Donna Coppola. Coppola said she wanted to take time to allow the committee’s attorney time to research the matter. Voting against the motion to table were Kennedy and Patricia Capano, vice-chair.

Cyr said the initial plan was to demolish the former Marshall Middle School, but a contractor reached out to city officials and wanted to buy it. His vision for the building wasn’t the vision the city had, but it let officials know there was interest in the property, Cyr said.

Lamanna said the cost to demolish the building is estimated at $2.2 million, which was part of the money bonded by the voters for the construction of the new Marshall Middle School, which opened last year on Brookline Street. If that money is not used for demolition, he said legally it could only be used for capital projects that could be bonded for 25 years, which would likely be for the construction of new buildings or additions on the school side. If the property is sold, he said the proceeds would go toward bondable projects more than five years. The proceeds would basically go into a reserve fund that would allow the city to plan ahead if, for example, a boiler in a building went.

Ford said he knows the issue is to sell the building and get some cash for the city in a cash drop situation, but he was hesitant about selling any more school property. He said there was some uncertainty about whether there would be any potential buyers, and he couldn’t see anybody paying big money for some place that’s going to cost lots of money to remediate.

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“We’re in a city where we’re land strapped,” Ford said. “We’re land poor. I don’t want to eliminate jobs on the city side. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I really find myself in a position where it’s going to be hard for me to vote to give up any land.”

Kennedy was in favor of the transfer. For 25 years being in public life, she said she also disagreed with selling public land and felt that in most cases, it was better to bank that land.

“The reason why I’m capitulating on this particular piece of land, is that first of all it’s not big enough to build a new modern middle school, so that idea is right out,” Kennedy said. “So, it would only be usable for an elementary school or something of that size. It’s not appropriate for a police or a fire station or anything because it’s basically, it’s on a residential street.”

She said she was more comfortable letting go of this piece of land, because it wouldn’t even be appropriate for a new Cobbet or Tracy Elementary School, because it would be out of that general area of the city.

“And in light of the difficulties that we’re having making the budget come together in this year, it seems like a piece of land that may not be as valuable to the city as someplace that was located deeper into West Lynn,” Kennedy said.

Cyr said an RFP would potentially be to solicit bids for a mixed use, which would include senior market-rate apartments, as well as some commercial use, such as doctors’ offices that would cater to seniors. A small portion of those units, because of federal funding, could be allocated as affordable, he added. He said there is a true need for senior housing at marketable rate in Lynn.

Lamanna said the building was last assessed at $8 million. He said the Massachusetts School Building Authority funded the new Marshall Middle School because the assessment was that the old school on Porter Street was beyond repair. Cyr said it would cost upwards of $50 million to bring the former school up to today’s standards, for it to be restructured for a school use.

Cyr said he was a lot more hopeful after Thursday’s meeting that the transfer would be approved by the School Committee.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Ehrlich: Tax credit will earn income for state

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

BOSTON — State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) believes a budget recommendation she co-sponsored for Fiscal Year 2018 will benefit working families and domestic abuse survivors.

The bill draws on legislation filed by Ehrlich and Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), making nonresidents of the state ineligible to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

According to the Department of Revenue, there are more than 20,000 nonresidents who earn income tax in the state and claim the state EITC each year. With the former federal match rate of 15 percent, these claims have been estimated to cost more than $6.5 million in revenue each fiscal year. At the new match rate of 23 percent, the cost would be about $10 million in revenue each year, according to House Ways and Means estimates.

“This credit is a scarce state resource available to assist struggling working families, so it makes little sense that we are allowing people who do not live in Massachusetts to claim the credit,” Ehrlich said in a statement.

The changes also clarify eligibility for taxpayers who live in Massachusetts for part of the year and expands access to the survivors of domestic abuse by allowing them to claim the credit while filing their taxes as “married, filing separately.” In the past, an individual could not claim the EITC unless taxes were filed jointly with a spouse.

Wheelabrator Saugus being taken to court

By supporting the changes, Ehrlich said the state takes the lead by enabling victims of domestic violence, who courageously flee their batterers.

The proposed budget also included a $150,000 allocation for Self Esteem Boston, a nonprofit that supports Lynn-based Project Cope, an organization that helps women in transition through homelessness or recovery from substance abuse.

The amendment was previously filed by former Rep. Gloria Fox but filed by Ehrlich in this session.

Self Esteem Boston provides essential psychological counseling and training for women in recovery from substance abuse problems.

During budget deliberations last month, the House of Representatives approved an amendment made by Ehrlich to dedicate $50,000 of the $40 million budget to clean up the odorous Pilayella algae on King’s Beach and Long Beach in Lynn.

Ehrlich called the funding crucial for combating the algae and its odor, which is a quality of life issue.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Meetings to focus on beaches, state funding

COURTESY PHOTO
A child enjoys King’s Beach.

By MATT DEMIRS and THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Summer is still a month away but a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday and another for June will focus on area beaches and their state funding.

The Metropolitan Beaches Commission’s (MBC) May 30 hearing at the Lynn Museum, 590 Washington St., starts at 6 p.m. and is scheduled for two hours. A second hearing is scheduled for June 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the State House, room 222.

Topics will include water quality improvements throughout local beaches this summer, as well as algae removal. According to an MBC press release, the hearings will also focus on potential budget cuts affecting free events and state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) beach operations in Lynn and Nahant.

The hearings overlap state Rep. Lori Ehrlich’s push to spend $50,000 to eliminate beach algae — an annual source of odor complaints.

“This funding is crucial to combatting the algae, a long-standing problem for residents and visitors to the beach because of the annual buildup and noxious odor it releases,” Ehrlich said. “The algae is unique to our beaches and just one beach elsewhere in the world, and needs to be dealt with promptly each spring to prevent the smell from worsening through the summer and fall, when it becomes unbearable.”

MBC lead consultant Bruce Berman said legislators are playing lead roles in restoring beaches, especially state Sen. Thomas McGee, who Berman said “has saltwater in his blood.” Created in 2006 by the Massachusetts Legislature, MBC is co-chaired by McGee of Lynn, and Rep. RoseLee Vincent of Revere.

Ehrlich’s push to fight beach algae comes as beach-goers face potential parking fee hikes.

The State House News Service reported that DCR plans to double the fee for parking at Nahant Beach to $10. The Baker administration is hiking the parking fees for non-Massachusetts residents at Nahant and Nantasket Beach south of Boston to $20, the News Service first reported in March.

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Though he publicly opposes tax and fee increases, Gov. Charlie Baker did not move to reverse DCR fee increases after taking office in 2015.

The News Service reported DCR’s fee hikes were pushed through more than two years ago by the outgoing Patrick administration.

“The previous administration actually raised the rates just before we came in, and so we’ve been rolling out that increase,” DCR Commissioner Leo Roy told the News Service.

He said, “We’re using the rate increase that was previously done by the previous administration, but it hadn’t been rolled out across the state and that’s what we’re doing.”

By July 1, Roy is hoping “we’ll have the whole state on the new rates.”

Roy told the News Service the fee hikes will help his agency increase its retained revenue to an estimated $20 million in fiscal 2018, up $2.3 million over the amount expected in the fiscal 2017 budget. The department is also seeking to make more money from permits issued for use of state parkland, Roy said.

DCR is allowed to keep 80 percent of the revenue it raises, said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, who told the News Service he expects DCR will raise a total of $25 million — including $5 million for the General Fund — and some estimates indicate the department could bring in a total of $27 million.

Beaches in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull are among coastal recreation areas Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and MBC seek to protect.

According to its website, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s current programs are “designed to restore and protect Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay, and share and reconnect all Bostonians, the region’s residents, and especially underserved youth and teens and low-income families to the harbor, waterfront, beaches and islands we have worked so hard to restore and protect.”

The Lynn and State House hearings will precede publication of a beach water quality study by the Beaches Science Advisory Committee.

McGee nurses senior health spending

By KATIE LANNAN, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON — State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) is pushing to increase state spending to help pull Massachusetts’ nursing home industry out of a budget crisis.

One of every seven direct care staff positions in Massachusetts nursing homes is vacant, the number of deficiency-free homes has dropped since 2013, and half of the facilities have less than four days of cash on hand, according to advocates seeking more state support for nursing homes.

“We are seeing an erosion of financial support for nursing facility care that is beginning to impact staffing as well as quality resident care,” said Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

McGee wants the state Senate to match the $362.9 million appropriation in the Massachusetts House’s budget to fund nursing facility Medicaid rates. The Baker administration and the current state Senate budget plan allocate $345.1 million for the account. McGee has filed an amendment to match the House amount.

Gregorio, whose organization represents 417 nursing homes that care for an average 40,000 residents on a given day, said strained finances have brought the industry to a “crisis point.” Around two-thirds of nursing home residents have their care paid for by MassHealth, leaving nursing homes dependent on state funds, she said.

The gap between the cost of care and the MassHealth reimbursement rate is $37 per day, according to the association, which is backing bills (S 336/H 2072) that would bump up rates based on the size of a facility’s MassHealth population. The bills, sponsored by Sen. Harriette Chandler and Rep. Thomas Golden, also fund leadership training and scholarship programs for nursing home staff.

Saugus in the zone

The effort comes as the state is facing a $462 million revenue shortfall so far this fiscal year, and as Gov. Charlie Baker and lawmakers are seeking to rein in rising MassHealth costs — the largest spending area in the state budget — that crowd out other priorities.

“We sink and swim together, and the state hasn’t been able to make the investments needed to really ensure investments in staff as well as resident care programs,” Gregorio told the News Service. “It’s been a difficult fiscal recession for Massachusetts and so during that time we were either cut or level-funded, yet at the same time costs went up for nursing facilities, and we weren’t able to make investments in staff wages.”

The vacancy rate among registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants in the state’s nursing homes has more than doubled in the past seven years, rising from 6.4 percent in 2010 to 15.8 percent in 2016, according to a senior care association survey.

Gregorio said funding and staff levels affect the quality of care a facility can provide, pointing to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data that show 32 percent of Massachusetts nursing homes scoring deficiency-free on annual inspections. That number has since fallen to 16 percent, she said.

According to an analysis by the association, 18 percent of Massachusetts nursing homes have enough cash on hand to cover more than a month of operating expenses, while 43 percent have enough cash for two days of expenses, and 7 percent have between two and four days worth.

“If they suddenly cease to have any payments from government, they have no more than four days of cash on hand. That’s an indication of a distressed system,” said Gregorio, who said an “optimal number” for cash on hand is anywhere from 60 to 90 days or more.

An outside section in the Senate’s fiscal 2018 budget, teed up for debate this week, calls for the Center of Health Information and Analysis to “examine the cost trends and financial performance” of nursing homes in the state, including revenues, costs, trends in payer mix, and operating margin.

 

Town Meeting rejects Eagle Road proposal

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — In the third Town Meeting session Monday night, members worked through six of the 12 remaining articles on the warrant, rejecting one that would allow Eagle Road residents to sell their properties for commercial use.

Residents asked that their properties, zoned strictly for residential use, be rezoned for commercial use. The proposal affects 42-61 Eagle Road, located behind Barn Carwash and C & P Imports. One of the homes is vacant, one is rented, and three are owner-occupied. Other lots in the mix do not have structures on them.

Rosemarie Zondiros, who owns three of lots, is in full support of the movement.

“I have lived on Eagle Road for 33 years and this is tough for me but I have seen all of the changes,” Zondiros said. “When I moved there it was a nice neighborhood. It’s not ever going to be a neighborhood again.”

While only one of the lots meets the 40,000 square-foot minimum land requirement set by the town that a developer would need to construct on the land, owners said they were willing to group the parcels to be sold together.

But Town Meeting members referred the article back to its creator with concerns about possible plans for the properties.

Bill Leuci, who represents Precinct 4, which encompasses Eagle Road, said he was concerned that redevelopment of the property would include more rock blasting.

If this land is developed — it is all rock — if they were to try to develop this land, there would be an awful lot of blasting and I think our area has been blasted enough,” he said. “With Essex Landing, everyone on my side of Route 1 felt that blasting quite a bit and called the Fire Department quite a few times, and there just wasn’t any relief until it was all done.”

Meetings to focus on beaches, state funding

Others said they were concerned the properties would be used to create an access road for a Revere development.

Town Meeting members also voted to allow a development at 2 Winston St. be exempt from a requirement that would force one of the seven units located in three buildings to be affordable.

This property has been vacant for probably a decade to 12 years,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “One of the things the town is interested in is healthy development that is going to be a benefit to the community with the least impact.”

Crabtree said he would rather allow the developer to be exempt from the requirement than see the property sit vacant for another decade.

Town Meeting authorized the town to borrow $695,000 for the purchase of a fire engine for the Fire Department. The motion also authorizes Crabtree to seek grant funding to reduce the borrowing amount and go toward the principal.

Fire Chief Michael Newbury said when the department receives the truck in about a year, it will replace a 23-year-old engine. The apparatus should only be used on the front line for about 15 years, he said.

The water rate was increased 2.5 percent with all receipts to be held within the Water Enterprise Fund to be used exclusively for water expenses, maintenance, debt and, improvement programs. More than $6.5 million was appropriated into the Water Enterprise Fund and more than $4.7 million was appropriated to operate the Sewer Enterprise Fund.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

Lynn teacher joins the march

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Miriam Rodriguez-Fusco is one of hundreds of teachers planning to attend the Rally for Public Education Saturday at the Boston Common.

The speech and language therapist in the Lynn Public Schools and parent of a third-grader at the Aborn Elementary School plans to board a bus in Lynn for the trip into Boston.

Rodriguez-Fusco, an educator for nearly two decades, said she feels strongly about her son’s future and the challenges of public school funding as traditional schools compete with charter schools for limited cash.

“We must raise our voices so that we can stand up to Trump and tell him we need adequate funding for public education that is free and not privatized,” she said.

The protest is sponsored by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, a grassroots organization of students, parents, educators, and concerned community members who are dedicated to preserving public education.

Entertainment, education at ‘Harrington Reads’

The Alliance said since Donald Trump was elected president, they have been standing up for women, immigrants, science and now they’ve turned their attention to public schools.

Protesters plan to meet on the Common at 2 p.m. and later march to the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center on Boylston Street where delegates from MTA’s Annual Meeting are meeting.

On the recent vote to defeat funding for a pair of middle schools in Lynn, Rodriguez-Fusco said she was disappointed.

“No one wants to pay more taxes,” she said. “But we’re talking about the children who are our future and we have to invest in them or we will never have better.”   


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

For Colucci challenger, youth are priority

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is Eliud Alcala, who is running for Ward 4 City Councilor.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Eliud Alcala has launched a campaign to unseat the city’s longest serving city councilor.

The 41-year-old family counseling doctoral candidate is making his first bid for public office against Ward 4 Councilor Richard Colucci, who has served on the panel for 15 years.

“I want to represent all of Ward 4 and offer voters an alternative,” he said.

Alcala, the former campaign manager for School Committeewoman Maria Carrasco, said if elected his first priority will be to implement youth programs.

“We should provide career pathways and programs that engage youth in our community,” he said.

He was unsure about the cost of the new initiatives such as an English as a Second Language program he would like to see relaunched at the Ford Elementary School.

McGee: Every morning I’ll wake up determined

“That program helped lots of people and we need to seek grants and be creative to pay for it,” he said.

He has also proposed that the city hire an interpreter to assist Spanish-speaking residents seeking services at City Hall.

“As I knock on doors in the ward, people tell me translators are not available at City Hall,” he said.

Alcala said he did not know how much such a position would cost or how the new post would be paid for amid the city’s budget crunch.

He does favor implementation of the .0075 percent meals tax option under consideration by the City Council that would add about $700,000 to the city’s coffers annually. In addition, he voted to support construction of two middle schools in the special election last month which was defeated.

The West Lynn resident was born in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City where he was raised by his parents who immigrated from Puerto Rico. The family moved to Lynn in 2000.  


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

North Shore gets money for road repairs

By GAYLA CAWLEY

Several North Shore communities were among the state’s towns and cities allocated Chapter 90 funding for local road repairs and resurfacing for FY18, according to an announcement from state legislators.

“Chapter 90’s annual allocation of state funds allow municipalities to continue to invest in local roads and bridges,” state Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) said in a statement. “This continued investment into infrastructure helps improve the quality of life for citizens.”

Lynn received more than $1.5 million in Chapter 90 funding. Other communities also receiving Chapter 90 funding include Saugus with $642,035, Marblehead with $455,615, Lynnfield with $417,697, Swampscott with $295,854, and Nahant with $92,135.

Gino Cresta, Swampscott department of public works director and assistant town administrator, said Town Meeting members will also be asked to approve $200,000 in non-Chapter 90 road repair funding on Monday, for the town’s road service management system.

Cresta said the Chapter 90 and non-Chapter 90 funding will go strictly toward paving streets, including Sampson Avenue, Eureka Avenue, Fairview Avenue, Pleasant Street, Greenwood Avenue, Bay View Avenue, Cedar Hill Terrace, Sunset Drive, and Lawrence Terrace.

Getting the lead out in Malden

“It’s important to our communities that we are able to provide this helpful funding just as the road construction heats up,” state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) said in a statement. “Nobody likes potholes, so it’s good for everyone for road work to get underway.”

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said in a statement “we worked tirelessly as a delegation to ensure the city of Lynn received more funding this year than last, because without this money, the city would not be able to pave or repair any of our roads or sidewalks.”

“I’m very pleased that the state continues to provide these much-needed funds for our local transportation infrastructure,” state Rep. Brendan Crighton said in a statement. “This investment will help people safely get to where they need to go, while at the same time benefitting our local economy.”

State Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere) said in a statement she was “particularly pleased at the funding Saugus will receive for its roads, and I’m sure the town will direct these funds in needed areas.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Push for 2nd charter school renewed in Lynn

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Frank DeVito still has to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The prospect of the city’s second charter school gained traction this week thanks to funding from some big name donors.

While the Equity Lab Charter School has yet to receive state approval, the proposed alternative school received a $215,000 grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund. The California-based foundation boasts a group of wealthy benefactors, including Bill and Melinda Gates, known for Microsoft Corp., and Facebook’s Mark and Chan Zuckerberg, who vowed to fund educators who launch innovative public schools.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Frank DeVito, the school’s founder. “The money will make a huge difference in making this a full time effort, and help pay for staff and consultants to get the school up and running next year.”

The 5-12 school, which would start with 160 fifth and sixth graders, will eventually have 640 students. So far, there’s a waiting list of more than 150 families, DeVito said.

DeVito is a member of Waltham-based Education Development Center’s National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools team, where he develops, implements and tests new ways to boost effective practices in high schools.

Last year, DeVito and his 22-member team of local educators was one of 50 finalists to win $10 million toward opening the new school in the XQ: Super School Project. Emerson Collective, chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, sponsored the $50 million competition.

While DeVito and Equity were chosen among 700 teams from 45 states that submitted applications for new or redesigned high schools, the Lynn proposal lost.

But that hasn’t slowed DeVito. He said the NewSchools cash revitalized the effort to bring another charter school to the city.

Drug charges for Lynn man who ran

DeVito, a 52-year-old Lynn homeowner and father of two, said he is focused on finding space for the school. He has looked at the former St. Michael’s Church, school and rectory on Summer Street, but can’t ink a deal until his school receives approval from the state Department of Education (DOE). A decision is expected to be made in February. If he gets the green light, the school is expected to open in the fall of 2018.

If his proposal for a new school is accepted by the state, they will provide $800 per student or $128,000 to lease or purchase space. In addition, they would receive $2.1 million from the state or $13,223 per student who switch from the Lynn Public Schools to the charter.

DeVito, a former teacher at Chelsea High School, said he would still have to raise about $250,000 for the school to launch.

“The state really wants the school to open in Lynn,” he said. “They have been very supportive and have offered coaching in order for us to succeed.”

If it does get the go-ahead from DOE, there will be no welcome mat from the city.

While Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the City Council have sparred over a number of issues this year, they are united in their fight against any new charter schools. They argue such schools take much needed cash from the public schools.

While proponents insist charter schools are public schools, Lynn’s elected officials say they don’t like the formula for funding because it takes more than $1 million from the regular school budget.

If Equity Lab wins approval, they will face competition from the only other charter school in the city, KIPP Academy.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Getting the lead out in Malden

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — City Councilors have approved spending plans for federal grant money allocated to the city, but are worried about Trump administration cuts decimating the important grant source.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) helps fund service programs, most of which involve housing and fighting poverty in low to moderate income communities.

Councilors want some of this year’s block grant money spent on addressing reports of raised lead levels in some of the city’s schools.

Ward Six Councilor Neil Kinnon’s proposal to put a 50 percent cap on the annual increase on individual CDBG funding grants led to a 7-2 council vote to institute the cap and reallocate approximately $40,000 of CDBG funds to replace water bubblers at the Forestdale K-8 School and Malden High School. Both were listed as having elevated lead levels in the drinking water according to a recently-released state survey.

“If (the pipes were) pre-World War II, they’re lead and they’re bringing lead into the drinking water of our schools. We have to address this problem now,” Kinnon said.

Kinnon also stressed lead in drinking water affects youngsters faster and worse than it would affect an adult. He said recent lead level tests were taken at respective schools’ water fountains. “Most of our schools were built in the past 20 years or 1999 or 2000, so there are only two reasons why there is lead in the water: Either the pipes at the water fountains are lead — which they’re not — or the lines coming in from the street are lead pipes. Here is a way we can start generating funds to address this. We have no choice. These are our schoolchildren,” he said.

This was the second move made to create funding for the lead pipe issue. Last week in the finance committee discussion, Ward Three Councilor John Matheson successfully moved to reallocate $200,000 in block grant money to the Malden Redevelopment Authority’s housing rehabilitation loan program, which provides residents in need with a way to replace lead water lines on their own property.

Getting a jump on jobs at Lynn Tech

Matheson also proposed reallocating $180,000 earmarked for improvements at Anderson Park Little League field in Ward Seven and two covered, handicapped accessible dugouts at Callahan Park softball field on Pearl Street (Ward Two).

“We have spent over $20 million on parks either replacing or improving them in our city since 2010. That’s a lot of funding and we have great parks,” Matheson said. “But we also have other pressing needs in our city.”  

The Ward Three Councilor proposed putting the $180,000 to the housing rehabilitation program and suggested a grant from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could be applied for to cover the park improvements.

At present there is just a preventive fence and benches at the park, which is the home of Malden High girls softball and is used by Malden Youth Softball and other citywide groups. The shift in block grant money from parks to housing raised protests.

“This park (Callahan) is one of the most heavily-used parks in the city, it’s not just a Ward Two park. We have to continue to make progress in all areas of the budget and not go after funds allocated in other wards,” said Ward Two Councilor Paul Condon.

Matheson’s move to reallocate the $180,000 for park improvements failed by a 7-2 vote with himself and Councilor at large David D’Arcangelo voting in favor.

Ward Seven Councilor Neal Anderson, who was sitting as temporary Council President in place of Council President Peg Crowe, echoed Condon’s remarks: “These funds were allocated for specific projects in these wards. Other ward councilors should not be looking to recoup these funds for other purposes.”

Council President Crowe had recused herself for all of the nearly 90-minute Council meeting discussion of the CDBG grant since she is employed by one of the groups receiving funding through the program.

   

Marblehead’s Rosenthal donates $1 million to Northeast Arc

COURTESY PHOTO
Marblehead resident and philanthropist Steven P. Rosenthal’s (left) $1 million donation to Northeast Arc will aid Arc clients like Billy Fallon of Lynn, who works at a Danvers Arc facility. 

By PAUL HALLORAN

In deciding to make an unprecedented $1 million gift to Northeast Arc, Steven P. Rosenthal wanted to ensure it would have maximum impact.

“I wanted to do something different, innovative, even disruptive, in a positive sense,” he said. “The idea was to find a way to literally change lives one at a time.”

The result is the establishment of the Changing Lives Fund, which will provide a new vehicle for Northeast Arc to expand services in creative and innovative ways that traditional funding has not allowed.

The donation will help Arc and clients like Billy Fallon of Lynn, who works at Northeast Arc’s Heritage Shredding company in Danvers.

Rosenthal, a Marblehead resident, is founder and chairman of West Shore LLC, a Boston-based real estate private equity company. He said he wants his gift to enable Northeast Arc to break new ground in the work it does providing lifelong support for people with disabilities.

“This is a real game-changer for us,” said Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast Arc. “Not only is Steve’s gift significant in the level of his generosity, it will allow us to greatly expand our reach in supporting individuals and test other new ideas and innovations.”

Rosenthal said he is confident in Northeast Arc’s ability to effectively use the gift as intended.

“They can figure out what will be innovative, what will be impactful, what will be different,” he said. “Jo Ann is an innovative, aggressive thinker. Northeast Arc is on the front line of helping people on the most basic level, in their day-to-day individual lives.”

The Changing Lives Fund can be used to develop a service model that is not currently funded by a state or federal agency; provide seed money to start a new initiative that will become self-sustaining; and develop initiatives that simultaneously support the Northeast Arc’s mission and the needs of the community.

The fund also allows Northeast Arc to provide financial support to new ideas of other individuals and organizations that support people with disabilities and are consistent with Arc’s mission.

“To borrow Steve’s use of the word ‘disruptor,’ the Northeast Arc has a history of playing that role. Family members have been the most creative and positive disruptors in our industry, and this fund will give us the flexibility to support them,” Simons said.

Rosenthal earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard and a law degree at Boston University. He practiced corporate law for 25 years and served as co-managing director at Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo. Prior to forming West Shore, he served as president and CEO at Northland Investment Corporation.

Rosenthal’s philanthropic work includes currently serving as a trustee of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society. He also serves on the board of trustees at the Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut. He has previously served on the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, American Israel Public Affairs Committee and several roles at Harvard College.

Sustainability for the Changing Lives Fund may include future donations, grant activity and business income from start-ups supported by the fund.

Founded in 1954 by families advocating for community-based services and supports for their children, Northeast Arc’s core values remain the same: All people, regardless of abilities, should have access and opportunities that support them to continue to learn, grow and become contributing members of society. Northeast Arc has been a leader in the disability field, advocating for and developing programs and service options that support people in all stages of their lives. The Northeast Arc also has developed small business opportunities that teach valuable employment skills.

 

Immigrant-worker march set for Monday

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN Days after a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump’s effort to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, nearly two dozen groups are organizing a May Day rally.

The “May Day March for Immigrant and Worker Rights” is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Before the march, organizers plan a teach-in at 1 p.m. at 112 Exchange St.

Activists are inviting people from all backgrounds to celebrate Lynn’s history as a home for immigrants and as a leader in the fight for dignity, respect, and a living wage for workers. “People from other parts of the state are bringing their own histories of resistance,” said the invitation. “Let’s all come together to carry the struggle forward.”

Dozens of members of the coalition, which includes labor, community and faith organizations from the North Shore, are expected on the downtown march.

The annual event, which will take place in cities nationwide, comes on the heels of a federal judge’s ruling in San Francisco that rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a small amount of money. The judge ruled Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

Child-abuse scars not always visible

The president has targeted sanctuary cities, ones that refuse to cooperate with U.S. immigration officials. But the judge rejected the order.

“Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves,” said U.S. District Judge William Orrick.

The injunction will stay in place while the lawsuits work their way through courts, which could include the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reince Priebus, the president’s chief of staff described the ruling as another example of the “9th Circuit going bananas.”

“The idea that an agency can’t put in some reasonable restriction on how some of these monies are spent is something that will be overturned eventually, and we will win at the Supreme Court level at some point,” Priebus told Associated Press.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.comMaterial from Associated Press was used in this report.

 

Revere taking aim at opioids

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

REVERE The Substance Use Disorder Initiatives (SUDI) Office will visit Revere High School to talk to residents about the opioid abuse problem in the city.

The city opened the office last year at 437 Revere St. and, using grant-funding, hired staff to help address the community’s drug problem. It was designed to oversee coherence of the city’s substance use disorder efforts and to support those most affected by the issue through policy and system changes. Since its inception, it has worked to streamline pre-existing programs and peruse new funding opportunities to expand its efforts.

According to a statement from Mayor Brian M. Arrigo’s office, early reports show that both fatal and non-fatal overdoses decreased in Revere in 2016.

‘Tradition’ up for debate in Marblehead

SUDI, Arrigo and the Revere Public Schools PTO will host a forum at the school’s Learning Commons May 3 at 5 p.m., to discuss future initiatives and solicit feedback about the next steps in addressing the problem. They’ll also give an update about ongoing work. Local direct service providers and medical professionals who participate as part of the city’s SUD Leadership team will also be in attendance.

Experts in prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery will be available to answer questions residents may have about services available to them and people they may know in need of help.

For more information, contact Julia Newhall at Revere’s SUDI office at 781-629-4158 or jnewhall@revere.org.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

$82K for Chromebooks among Saugus requests

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Chromebooks for students, pump station repairs, and a new fire truck dominate warrants for the May 1 Annual Town Meeting and a Special Town Meeting.

The Board of Selectmen closed warrants for the meetings. The purpose is to close the special Town Meeting sooner, rather than waiting for the annual meeting to close, which could be as late as June 30, said Town Manager Scott Crabtree.

When the meetings end with unfinished business, they resume to the following Monday until all decisions are made.

The School Committee submitted a request for $82,000 for the one-time purchase of Chromebooks for Saugus Public Schools, which are necessary to comply with statewide computer-based testing, such as MCAS.

Crabtree also included a request to fund Chromebooks, citing confusion about whether the School Department had already requested the money.

“They haven’t identified a source of funding,” Crabtree said. “It’s kind of difficult when you don’t have a conversation with the Town Manager. I also have heard discussions that they may have money within their budget to pay for the Chromebooks.”

Ruggiero put her best foot forward

Town Meeting members will first take up articles that include appropriating money to repair and maintain parks and playgrounds; to design, construct, repair and replace parks and playgrounds and parks; and to make capital improvements to the Lincoln Avenue Pumping Station.

Crabtree said the pumping station, which hasn’t seen major improvements in more than a decade, is in need of repairs and upgrades. He said the existing station is worth about $100 million but is in need of a new bypass. He called the issue a time sensitive priority.

Crabtree is also asking to add money to the town’s stabilization fund. He said he hopes to increase the town’s bond rating to Triple A, so they can pay less interest when borrowing and allow the town’s tax dollars to go further.

“These articles that I’m asking for sort of stay in line with what our priorities are,” said Crabtree. “We’re continuing to take action to build the town’s financial health and stability, improve parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields, and (make) town-wide improvements for our infrastructure.”

The Annual Special Town Meeting articles will follow.

Several articles from Crabtree include a request to purchase a new fire engine for the Fire Department, and to appropriate money for a Post-Employment Benefits Liability Trust. He also wants members to reauthorize revolving funds for supporting recreational programs, and for activities at the senior center.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte

School spending ‘thorn in our side,’ mayor says

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Five months after the state threatened to withhold millions in school funds, the city is on the hook again as they face a spending shortfall, The Item has learned.

On Thursday, the Department of Education is expected to tell Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy that following a review of the city’s finances, school spending is off by about $826,000. As a result, the state may withhold that amount from Lynn’s $11 million monthly allocation of Chapter 70 school payments in June.

Peter Caron, Lynn’s chief financial officer, said the city is again working to get school spending back on track.

“It’s challenging,” he said. “We are trying to guess how much money we will spend on schools, but the state doesn’t do the accounting until six months after the fiscal year is over. It all goes back to the health insurance; we don’t know in May how much we will spend on it. It’s a crap shoot.”

Kennedy said she expects the school spending issue to be resolved, but she’s not sure how.

“Overall, net school spending has been a thorn in our side for a number of years,” she said. “When you increase the number of students in the schools by nearly 20 percent over the last six years, it causes problems on how to pay for it.”

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Lynn is the fifth largest district in the Bay State with more than 16,000 students.

“Until we can slow the increase in school population or look to possible federal assistance, we will not be able to meet the threshold spending for the foreseeable future,” she said.

The city’s finances came into focus last year when the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education told the mayor that the city’s contribution to school funding was short by $7.5 million and the state threatened to withhold its $11 million November payment in school funds until City Hall came up with more cash.

Since then, the school deficit has been reduced to less than $1 million and the state money was released to the city.

John J. Sullivan, DOE’s associate commissioner, declined to comment until the letter is issued to the mayor.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

NSCC president lays out 2017 goals, plans

LYNN — There’s a lot going on at North Shore Community College (NSCC) over the coming months, including a new bookstore.

Patricia Gentile, the school’s president, said there are plans to move into the new development on the Lynn Campus over the month of June.

The temporary entrance on the side of the main campus building will remain, and the current bookstore will be moved from the interior of the building into an area that is now occupied by offices, said Gentile.

The new bookstore will be open to the public for retail and carry more than just textbooks. The college has submitted a request for proposal for potential bookstore vendors.

Gentile said that by 2018 they’re hoping to have the bookstore settled so the college can move on to other renovations within the building. The school is seeking funding for a Lynn-based veterans center and is in the midst of building a health center. The work, funded by the Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program, is being done over the summer and should be completed by fall.  

Peabody union has dim view of raise

A number of events are coming to the campus, such as the Forum on Tolerance at 6 p.m. on April 20 and a town hall meeting with Congressman Seth Moulton this Saturday. Law Day on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. constitutes a presentation about the 14th Amendment regarding immigration rights.

“We’re trying to get the public involved as well as students,” said Gentile.

She said another new initiative at the college is a pilot of the North Shore Promise Award, which reduces the direct cost to attend NSCC to zero for the first 100 full-time students who are eligible for financial aid but lack enough grant funds to cover tuition and fees.  

“We know affordability is becoming a major hardship for folks,” said Gentile. “Coming to a community college makes a lot of sense but even that can be individually unaffordable.”

Gentile said the award is a response to the fact that financial factors have dissuaded many students who apply to the school from attending.

 

Revere wants a new high school

REVERE — Mayor Brian Arrigo has submitted a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for a new high school.

The submission was made on behalf of the Revere School Committee, which voted at a March 21 meeting to submit the letter, dated April 6.

“I will be working closely with the superintendent and the rest of the School Committee in the coming years to make sure we are able to take the award-winning work performed by educators at Revere High School and move it into a modern building that will meet the needs of our students for decades to come,” said Arrigo in a column on his website titled ‘Investing in Revere’s Future.’

A notice from Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelly to the school committee cites an obsolete, structurally unsound and overcrowded building at 101 School St. as the reason why a replacement is needed.

Kelly said at the meeting that the MSBA did not invite Revere into its core program last year.

She said the MSBA indicated the city had a strong application, but limited funding prevented the process from moving forward. Kelly said they were encouraged to apply again this year.

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A statement of interest is the first required step in the lengthy process of securing funding for a new school. It doesn’t guarantee the application’s acceptance.

If the city is cleared to move forward in the process, a feasibility study  identifying siting options and the completion of a comprehensive planning process will need to be conducted, said Arrigo’s column.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Marblehead schools budget for the future

By LEAH DEARBORN

MARBLEHEAD The 2018 fiscal year budget for the Marblehead Public Schools saw a 5.1 percent increase from last year.

At a public hearing Thursday in the L.H. Coffin Elementary School , Superintendent Maryann Perry said most of the additional cost came from contractual increases across all grades.

Textbook and curriculum renewal is a priority, said Perry, as well as continuing to update technology accessible to students and teachers.

She said additional interpretation services were contracted over the past year as the student base in town continues to diversify.

“We want to make sure every child and their family feels welcome here in Marblehead schools,” said Perry.

She said a separate $115,000 was granted by the town finance committee to supplement recent federal cuts to Title I program funding. Title I focuses on narrowing the education gap for at-risk learners.

The hearing was part of the regular School Committee meeting.

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Before the budget hearing, the future of the Elbridge Gerry School was discussed. Committee member David Harris said this week kicks off the hiring process for an owner’s project manager to direct the feasibility phase of consolidating the Gerry and Coffin schools.

He said the committee is analyzing an alternate possibility of combining the Gerry, Coffin and Malcom L. Bell schools that would support 450 students, a course Harris described as a means of preparing for the future growth.

The Gerry School Building Committee entered the 270-day eligibility period with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in March and was given the green light to move forward to the next phase of gathering information.

“They’re right there with you from start to finish,” said Harris about the project manager position.

He said whomever is hired will work hand-in-hand with the building committee and architect in a process the MSBA estimates will take an average of 18-24 months.

The feasibility study is estimated to cost up to $750,000, according to the Marblehead Public Schools website. The MSBA will reimburse the town approximately 32 percent of the study cost.

The first of the public project manager interviews is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. tonight at Marblehead High School. The remaining two will take place on Monday, and a final recommendation will be brought before the committee on April 6.


Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

The 6 ‘alternative facts’ of school no-voters

COMMENTARY BY CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARREN CYR

I write as president of the Lynn City Council and for the councilors-at-large. We cannot in good conscience sit by and allow the negative, defamatory statements, distortions and outright lies from the “vote no on two new schools” team go unanswered.  

The negativity and outright venom spewed by the opposition shocks the values that we hold true in our hearts. We are utterly disgusted to read social media posts stating that “those children” from foreign countries who speak with accents do not deserve a quality education.  

The anger and nastiness of this campaign by the “vote no” supporters makes the recent presidential election look like a hug fest.

We as Lynners have a unique opportunity to literally change the lives of more than 100,000 of our children for the next century. It is ironic that the residents of Ward 1 who pay some of the highest property taxes in the city are forced to send their children to a crumbling building that does not meet the educational needs of the 21st century.  

Not so long ago, a former Marblehead state representative told his constituents they should support strong state school funding for Lynn. Swampscott raises captains of industry, he said, who “need very well educated employees.”

As Lynners, we find that statement and such a sentiment to be a slap in the face.  We sincerely hope that no Lynner believes that we should be looked down upon by any other community.  

We are proud to be from Lynn and want nothing but the very best for our families and children.  

We’re not anti-education, ‘no’-voters say

The irony is not lost on us collectively that Swampscott educational leaders have toured the new Thurgood Marshall Middle School and intend to model future construction in their town on this project that was finished on time and under budget. The proposed schools in large part will be modeled after Marshall and the West Lynn site will be almost identical.

“Alternative fact No. 1” put forth by the opposition claims that Lynn can simply go back to the drawing board and select a new site. This is just not true. Lynn has spent almost $1.1 million on architectural drawings, traffic studies, sewer studies and wetland/drinking supply protection studies. There is no more money to funnel into additional studies and plans.  

The plain fact of the matter is that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has insisted that one of the schools be located in the East Lynn District. There are no other sites in East Lynn that exist that are financially or environmentally feasible.  

The Magnolia Avenue site is not a viable option. That  land is located in a flood zone. There is an existing Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe that runs underneath the playground that supplies water to the citizens from Swampscott and Marblehead.  The site is not large enough to accommodate a 600-plus student facility without taking by eminent domain a portion of the neighboring elderly apartment complex. Such a taking would result in dozens of elderly persons being relocated to new homes.

If the citizens of Lynn reject the two modern state-of-the-art educational facilities, Lynn will go to the end of the line and be forced to submit a new application. Exploding enrollment projects show that by 2021, Lynn will have either double sessions or classrooms with 50 children.  In all likelihood, Lynn would not get back to the front of the line at the MSBA until 2019 or 2020.  

This ensures double sessions or students crammed into classrooms like sardines. But even this ignores the fact that there are no other viable sites in East Lynn. Therefore, it makes no sense to re-apply. Lynn will just dump good money after bad fixing up a Pickering Middle School that can never be adequately rebuilt for today’s middle school educational needs.

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“Alternative Fact No. 2” as put forth by the opposition states Lynn will be taking multiple homes at the reservoir site. This is just not true. Lynn heard the voices of the opposition and redrew the plans so that only one home will be taken by eminent domain.  

The wonderful woman who was the subject of news coverage several months ago will not lose her home. The younger woman who would be required to relocate has and will continue to be offered every reasonable accommodation. The Lynn City Council has gone on record supporting the idea of moving her home several hundred yards down the road so that she can remain in the home she built.

Opponents ignore the fact that two homes were taken by eminent domain in order to construct Thurgood Marshall. Those relocated for Marshall were residents of Ward 3 and we know for a fact that they were extremely satisfied with the efforts Lynn undertook to relocate them to a new home of their choosing.  

“Alternative fact No. 3” put forth by the opposition states that the cost of the school project will be $5,000 per taxpayer. This figure will be spread out over 25 years. In return, Lynners will see their property values soar. Think about it: Residents with children looking to buy property will not want to buy in Lynn if our schools are an embarrassment. We urge Lynners to take a tour of the existing Pickering.

Quite simply, the physical condition of Pickering is an embarrassment.

The more families are satisfied with the conditions of our schools, the greater the demand will be for our own homes. Our greatest assets are our homes. With the construction of two new schools, our homes will go up in value considerably.  By approving these two new schools, we have just increased our own net worth by tens of thousands of dollars almost immediately.  

“Alternative fact No. 4” put forth by the opposition states that the property is part of Lynn Woods. This outright fabrication can simply be rebutted by the fact that the Friends of Lynn Woods have publicly said that the land is not part of the Lynn Woods Reservation.

“Alternative fact No. 5” put forth by the opposition states that the land is cemetery land. The deeds for the subject land clearly state that the City of Lynn owns this land with no restrictions. An attorney for the “vote no” group has conceded at a public hearing before the Lynn City Council that the deeds on file at the Registry of Deeds contain no restrictions requiring this land to be used for cemetery purposes.

Conversely, the Lynn City Council is on record as supporting the sale of 32 acres to the Pine Grove Cemetery and said deed will state the land will be used solely for cemetery purposes.  Because there exists no deed restrictions or conditions on file at the Registry of Deeds, the Lynn City Council would be free to sell this land to a developer to construct hundreds of new homes.

The Lynn City Council did not seek such a solution. Rather, it unanimously voted to commence the process to transfer this land to the Pine Grove Cemetery Commission at no cost.

“Alternative fact No. 6” put forth by the opposition states that the selection of these sites was done behind closed doors with no public input. All meetings of the Pickering Site Committee have been open to the public.  Three public forums were held where our community could speak up on the proposed sites.

Members of the Lynn City Council have personally met and spoke with the leader of the opposition on almost a dozen occasions. Our city council colleagues have attempted to address or mitigate each and every one of their stated concerns.  

Now is the time for us as a community to step up.  The negativity and anger is unacceptable. We are supporting the two new schools because our only interest is the children of Lynn.  

Our fellow Lynners: Let’s vote yes on two new schools so that our children will have the necessary tools to be captains of industry for generations to come.  


Editor’s note: City Council President Darren P. Cyr wrote this editorial and signed it with fellow councilors Buzzy Barton, Council Vice President, and Councilors-at-large Daniel F. Cahill, Brian P. LaPierre and Hong L. Net.

 

Saugus schools head to drawing board

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — The Massachusetts School Building Authority approved the town’s plan for a combination middle and high school building concept, allowing officials to move on to the design.

The quasi-independent government agency that funds public schools is working with Saugus to construct a new building.

“Now we will move on to modular four of the project with the MSBA, the schematic design phase,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. “Over the next year we will work with the architects to design the actual building.”

The project is expected to cost about $153 million. In June, Town Meeting will be presented with a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion vote that would increase the tax levy beyond the state limit of 2.4 percent for more than 20 years or until the project is paid off, Crabtree said. The question will then go to the polls. The amount that could be added to residents’ bills to fund the investment is still unknown, he said.

The new middle-high school would be constructed on the same property as the existing high school. A new football stadium with multi-use fields would replace the current building.

The building process began when the town sent a letter of interest to the MSBA at the end of 2013, which was accepted the next month. By last February, PMA Consultants was chosen as the owner’s project manager and HMFH Architects Inc. was chosen to design the new building.

Cambridge-based HMFH is known for its user-centered designs and use of color in their work. The company has experience working with the state on combination middle-high school and standalone high school projects.

HMFH project director Lori Cowles described a pod-style layout focused on keeping students within one area of the school, rather than a compartmental design that keeps clusters of classrooms teaching one subject together.

“I think it’s very exciting to move onto the next phase of the school building project,” Crabtree said. “This will be the school district and the town’s time to work with the residents and parents and students of the community on designing a plan that fits and is designed to support the new education plan that was voted by the school committee and building committee.”

Additional public outreach meetings are planned for the next year in an attempt to engage more residents in the process and ensure voters make informed decisions when it comes to funding the project, he said.

“We are on sort of an accelerated rate of trying to move the project forward,” Crabtree said. “We have been able to make some of the benchmarks sooner than scheduled. We look forward to continuing to have a partnership with the MSBA.”

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Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Baker brings big bucks to Revere

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Revere City Councilor Anthony Zambuto, left, talks with Gov. Charlie Baker after they arrive at the old Shaw’s supermarket site at 205 Revere Beach Parkway to announce a $3.6 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to build luxury apartments and extended stay hotel rooms.

By THOMAS GRILLO

REVERE — The shuttered Shaw’s supermarket on Revere Beach Parkway near the Beachmont MBTA station will soon be transformed into 220 apartments and a 132-room hotel.

The six-acre site, which has been vacant for more than five years, benefited from a $3.63 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to the city to advance the $90 million project that is expected to break ground next spring.

Officials gathered on Wednesday at the abandoned market site, a five-minute walk to the T and Revere Beach, to celebrate the grant that made the development possible with the public infrastructure improvements.

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Among the work to be done includes water, sewer, and utility upgrades, as well as street and sidewalk work, to unlock redevelopment of the commercial property.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Revere competed with more than a 100 other communities for the MassWorks cash. A total of $287  million in requests were received from an allotment of $90 million.

“You should all be enormously proud of the work that was done by the city to make this proposal where we thought the bang for the buck made it stand above the rest,” he said.

The developers, Revere Beach Parkway Partners LLC, comprised of Boston-based Gate Residential and Transdel Corp., closed on the parcel Tuesday for $5 million, according to the Suffolk Registry of Deeds.

The new development at 205 Revere Beach Parkway is located less than one-quarter mile from the Beachmont T stop on the Blue Line.

The public infrastructure funds are expected to  improve safety and traffic conditions along Revere Beach Parkway, and enhance pedestrian connections to Beachmont Station and Revere Beach.

“This grant leverages $90 million of private investment,” said Kyle Warwick, principal at Gate Residential. “Without the grant, we are an island here and have no connectivity to Beachmont Station. We will amplify the walkway to the beach with a public linear park.”

Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo said the city is poised to benefit from billions of dollars in investment from the MassWorks grant.

“Much of the economic growth that we’ve seen in the Commonwealth has historically skipped the city of Revere and everyone here knows that’s about to change,” he said.

MassWorks grants fund shovel-ready public infrastructure projects that generate additional private sector investment. It targets investments in roadways, streetscapes, and water systems.

The program  provides a one-stop shop for municipalities and other eligible public entities seeking public infrastructure funding to support housing production, economic development, and job creation.

Since its inception in 2011, the MassWorks program has invested $419 million through competitive grant rounds, in 223 projects throughout the Commonwealth.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.