Panel

Traffic fine increases could net city $300K

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Parking overtime at meters could result in a $15 penalty, up from $10.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN It could get a lot more expensive for scofflaws who ignore the city’s parking rules.

The Lynn Traffic Commission will consider a proposal on Tuesday, May 16 to raise fees for a variety of violations from $5 to $30, depending on the offense.

“We have two goals,” said Robert Stilian, the city’s acting parking director. “To have our fees be more in line with neighboring communities and to discourage violators. For example, it’s dangerous parking on a crosswalk, so that fine will face among the biggest increases.”

If approved by the five-member panel, overtime at meters will rise by $5 to $15; impeding street cleaning and parking in a taxicab stand will cost $20, from $15; parking on a sidewalk or in a loading zone will see the ticket price raised to $30 from $20. Like to work on your car while it’s parked on the street? That’s illegal and the fine will rise to $50, up from $30.

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The biggest increase is for motorists who park in a crosswalk, double park, have an invalid inspection sticker or registration or park in the wrong direction. Those fines would swell to $50 from $20.

“If a pedestrian is trying to cross the street and you are parked on the crosswalk, shame on you,” Stilian said.

Last year, the department collected $783,340 in parking fines. Stilian estimates the city will raise an additional $300,000 in fees with the increases.

Police Sgt. Edward Shinnick, chairman of the Traffic Commission, said if the panel greenlights the proposal, the new fines will take effect in June.

“Bob Stilian is the parking director and if he thinks raising fines is needed, then I favor them too,” he said.


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

 

 

Future of ER care at Union uncertain

ITEM FILE PHOTO 
The future of emergency care remains uncertain at the soon-to-close Union Hospital.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — No decisions have been made about the future of emergency care at Union Hospital after it closes in 2019.

Members of the Emergent/Urgent Care Planning Group, which includes hospital executives, public officials, and residents, met at City Hall on Monday in a two-hour meeting that was closed to the press and public.

Dr. David J. Roberts, president of the North Shore Medical Center (NSMC), said the meeting was one of many to determine the scope of emergency room services NSMC will provide in Lynn after Union shutters its campus.

“Our goal is to keep some form of emergency care, hopefully at the Union campus, but that will depend on who buys it,” he said.

It could be located in another Lynn location, he said.

Last year, the state Department of Public Health unanimously approved a $180 million expansion of NSMC that will close Union and move the beds to the new Salem campus in 2019. The medical facilities in Lynn and Salem are a part of Partners HealthCare. They recently posted the biggest annual operating loss in its 22-year history when it reported $108 million in losses on operations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2016.

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The panel has been discussing whether to provide full emergency room services or urgent care, Roberts said.

A complete ER accepts ambulances and all comers no matter how sick, embedded into a hospital that provides other services, such as surgery, he said. Urgent care is where patients go when they are not desperately ill, but have an acute condition that must be dealt with immediately.

“Having an emergency room absent all of the support services may not be the way to go,” Roberts said. “But this committee is evaluating all of this and no decision has been made.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, a member of the panel, said they are making progress toward consensus about what the future of health care in Lynn will look like.  

State Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn), who also serves on the committee, said these are ongoing meetings that discuss options for when the hospital closes.

When Roberts was asked why the meeting excluded the public, he referred the question to Laura Fleming, a hospital spokeswoman.

“These sessions have always been closed to the public,” she said. “I don’t know why and I don’t have a well thought out answer. No one has ever asked me that question before.”


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

 

Schools out for the time being in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is pictured at a discussion on schools.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — No new schools will be built in the city anytime soon.

That was the decision of a city panel Tuesday that orchestrated a plan for construction of two middle schools to ease overcrowding and replace a dilapidated facility.

Following last Tuesday’s special election where voters resoundingly rejected a request to fund an $188.5 million plan for a school on Parkland Avenue and a second one on McManus Field, the Pickering School Building Committee withdrew its application for state funding.

In addition to taking itself out of consideration for funds, Lynn Stapleton, the city’s project manager for the school proposal, said Lynn had a number of options. They included a plan to split the project into two and build one school first and then a second; build one school and renovate the Pickering Middle School; or build one school and use Pickering as an elementary school.

But the panel seemed in no mood to consider them.

Before the vote to end the city’s bid for school dollars, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy invited Donald Castle, a founding member of Protect Our Reservoir — Preserve Pine Grove, the grassroots organization that campaigned against the schools, to speak to the committee. The mayor said he had an alternative plan. But he declined.

School Committeewoman Donna Coppola voiced concern about where new students would be placed.

“We have kids coming in that will not have seats,” she said.

Edward Calnan said the committee did their job and despite the vote against the schools, the members should be proud of the work they did.

“We were told we needed to provide space for 1,600 students and that’s what we did,” he said. “We did an exhaustive search for sites in the city and came up with the best ones that were the least expensive to make the project viable.”

Off and running in Lynn

Kennedy said it’s clear the voters have no appetite for more taxes and she will honor their wishes.

“The people spoke loud and clear,” she said. “The problem was the price tag and I’m just ready to drop the whole thing. They say insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. That’s what we would be doing if we did anything but drop it.”

With that, the 16-member group voted unanimously to tell the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the  quasi-independent government authority created to help pay for the construction of public schools, that Lynn won’t be seeking funds.

At the close of the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham choked back tears as she expressed her disappointment in the failure of the vote for the new schools.

“Our new Thurgood Marshall Middle School is a model for the entire state and I was hoping that just viewing that could carry an equalized opportunity for all our students,” she said. “But it was not to be.” 

In an interview following the meeting, Castle defended his position not to speak to the committee.

“It was a bag job,” he said. “They wanted to pick a fight with me, I’m not going to get into an argument with the superintendent that would make me look dumb. The proponents never sat down with us or called us once. I feel bad for the kids, but now they want to talk to us in the 11th hour. No thanks.”


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